Here we are again Tar Heel fans, UNC is coming off their fourth ugly loss of the season after dropping their conference opener in Virginia to the Cavaliers on Sunday, asking ourselves again, will Carolina get things together? UNC faces the Miami Hurricanes at the Dean Dome on Thursday night with more questions than answers and a big one being will this team even make the NCAA Tournament.
Miami will be without senior center Reggie Johnson who has missed the last five games due to a broken thumb and could be out for a lot longer. The loss of Johnson is huge to the Canes’ and they have sorely missed him since his injury, our NCAA affiliate Busting Brackets feels that Johnson is the ACCs most indispensable player to his team.
The Hurricanes come in with a 10-3 overall record, 1-0 in conference play after a win against Georgia Tech on Saturday. Miami is no stranger to playing good basketball teams with an RPI ranking of seventh in the nation this season. Head coach Jim Larranaga called this seasons nonconference schedule the toughest in UM history.
Miami hit a rough patch during the Christmas holiday losing back to back games to Arizona and Indiana State but outside of that hiccup that happened during a long exhausting road trip that covered 4,800 miles.
The Hurricanes are not intimidated by tough opponents and they come to play on a nightly basis, they play hard for 40 minutes and work as a unit on the defensive end. In other words, the Tar Heels could learn a thing or two from this Miami club.
UNC on the other hand has a lot of improving to do, they need to play with intensity, especially on the defensive end and they need to communicate better on the court and play as a team instead of five individuals.
Statistically the Heels have this game in the bag, if only the games were played on paper. Miami doesn’t rank above 103rd in the nation in any offensive category and without Johnson they struggle to rebound. UNC on the other hand ranks in the top nine in the country in points, rebounds and assists.
I’d like to say that this is another game in which we will learn a lot about UNC, can they rebound from a tough loss? Can they play a full 40 minute game? Can they keep up the defensive intensity against a good team? After the debacle in Virginia the hard lesson we’ve learned is that it’s going to take several good showings from this club before we can buy into anything. A win is just a step in the right direction, a loss would be yet another devastating step backwards that this team cannot afford.