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After back to back it's go time for the Tar Heels, if they hope to make a run at the NCAA tournament. The last time we saw Carolina on the court, they won a road game at NC State 75-65 to get to 10-10 ( 3-6 ) on the season. Garrison Brooks was simply sensational once again, powering the offense with numerous baskets around the rim, and Brandon Robinson turned in one of the more gutsy performances in the Roy Williams era. Despite all the injuries this team has suffered, it appears as if the team has finally learned how to play with each other, and are playing to their strengths. It couldn't have come at a better time, as the schedule it about to turn up a notch, including two games against ranked opponents next week. It also appears that Cole Anthony is nearing his return, as the star freshman hasn't played since December. With him back on the floor, you feel confident this team can compete with the league's best.
Boston College has made the trek down for Chestnut Hill, looking for their first win Chapel Hill since the 2008-09 season. The Eagles own a 10-11 ( 4-6 ) record, and have nice wins over Virginia and Virginia Tech. Derryck Thornton the Duke transfer lead them in scoring at over 12 points a game. Boston College puts 4 players in double figures, despite only averaging only 64 points a game. Their struggles from the floor can't be understated. Not only do they score 64 points, they only shoot 40% from the field, 30% from behind the arc, and 65% from the charity stripe. With those numbers it's no wonder why the Eagles don't own a winning record, and have struggled to compete at a consistent level. Jim Christian is a good head coach, but definitely has his work cut out for him in this game.
Carolina has a chance to win three straight games for the first time, since they started the season with 5 straight wins. A win over Boston College would get them over .500 and to 4-6 in the ACC, which puts them in the middle of the pack with 10 to play. The status of both Cole Anthony and Jeremiah Francis are unknown, but they are starting to play a better version of basketball. The Tar Heels failed to capitalize on the softer stretch of games earlier in conference play, these are the type of games they can't afford to lose if they want to play meaningful games in March. Here are 3 keys to beating Boston College:
1. Playing Through Garrison & Armando: As mentioned earlier, this team has started playing to it's strengths. That strength is playing through Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot. It's not just their ability to score the basketball, it's their ability to create for others, as both are underrated passers out of the post. Everything looks different when the offense runs through these two. Armando has gotten more consistent finishing at the rim, especially through contact. While Garrison continues to display an offensive game, we never expected. Against a smaller team, it makes sense to play inside-out.
2. Sense of Urgency: Just because Boston College doesn't own a sexy record, doesn't mean they aren't capable of beating the Tar Heels. The Eagles have wins over both ACC teams from Virginia, which Carolina lost to. This is a year where the little guy feels like they have chance, with UNC being vulnerable. You feel like Roy Williams won't allow his team to overlook any opponent, especially after the 3 home losses earlier this season.
3. Controlling the Glass: Carolina leads the country in rebounding, and the ACC in rebounding. That has been overlooked with the losses piling up this season. Jim Christian's squad doesn't have the size to compete with the Tar Heels over the course of 40 minutes, and Carolina needs to make sure that happens. Sometimes the best offense we've seen is just throwing the ball up, and letting the bigs go get it. That won't be a bad option in this game, and at this point it's not about winning pretty, it' just about winning.
Series History: Carolina is 18-5 all time against Boston College. including 15-4 under Roy Williams. The last time the two teams tangled in the Smith Center, Carolina won 96-66. Boston College has only won three times in Chapel Hill, since joining the ACC.
UNC - 83rd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 106.1 ( 100th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.1 ( 83rd )
Boston College - 172nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 98.5 ( 249th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.7 ( 100th )
TV Info: The first game of February will tip off at 6 pm, with ACC Network carrying the coverage.
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