You have to admit, progressive UNC fans, the past 72 hours have been very kind. N.C. State loses to Wake Forest and suffers Twitter heartburn thereafter, the Tar Heels get a top-10 recruit, Hillary Clinton kicks the shit out Republicans over Benghazi, Miami really kicks the shit out of Duke and mocks the Blue Devils in the process, and Carolina cruises past Georgia Tech 79-63 to improve its ACC record to 3-2.
All that’s left is for you people to go out and get laid.
OK, you’re back. The Heels have reversed negative mojo from earlier this month, winning three straight after losing their first two ACC contests. UNC has played its way back into the NCAA Tournament picture and is performing at by far its highest level this season.
Last night’s game actually proved illustrative for its similarity to Carolina’s previous struggles. The Tar Heels shot just 43 percent from the field and 35 percent on threes, along with a woeful 59 percent from the foul line. The Yellow Jackets also out-rebounded them 50-45. That’s the kind of effort that felled UNC during the early season, yet against Tech the Heels prevailed easily.
The difference is intensity. Carolina’s defense has improved significantly and has been especially effective recently during the first half of games. The Heels must perform more consistently in order to defeat the conference’s top squads, but they’ve finally identified a reliable strategy by which to attack opponents.
Georgia Tech shot just 36 percent from the field, and UNC also limited Tech’s open three-point opportunities. Yes, the Yellow Jackets are poor—they’re winless in the ACC at 0-5—but even inferior opposition managed clean perimeter looks against UNC earlier this season.
All that said, I’m still not sold on Carolina’s chances in Raleigh. The Heels haven’t defeated an upper ACC foe and lost at home (to Miami) in their only attempt. The Wolfpack’s embarrassing loss to Wake won’t make them any more determined than they would have been versus UNC, anyway, but that loss likely will make them more focused in this week’s practices.
To win, UNC most hold its own on the backboards and find a way to free Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston for open shots. The Pack undoubtedly will play James Michael McAdoo very physically inside, a style that has proved difficult for him to handle.
This season also marks State’s best opportunity in years to beat the Heels and potentially even sweep them. Roy Williams has compiled a 19-1 record versus the Wolfpack since taking over at Carolina, including a perfect 3-0 mark last season. But John Henson and Kendall Marshall aren’t around to torment the Pack any longer, and now it’s the crew in Raleigh who enjoy greater talent and experience.
Here’s to Saturday night! Click here to view the UNC/Georgia Tech box score.