The North Carolina Tar Heels face conference foe Georgia Tech tonight at 9pm on ESPN. UNC notched their second straight win on Saturday over Maryland pulling to .500 in the ACC and improving their overall record to 12-5, despite the win we saw another example of the Jekyll and Hyde persona this team has taken on this year. Carolina has looked better in their two wins over Florida State and Maryland but are still searching for a complete 40 minute game.
Georgia Tech has had a rough start to the conference season starting 0-4 in ACC play after starting 10-2 in non-conference play. The Yellow Jackets schedule has been pretty rough with them playing and losing to No. 1 Duke, No. 18 N.C. State and No. 25 Miami. They’re the only team in the league to have taken on all three of the conferences ranked teams so far. Although they have lost these games they have showed promise, when they led both NC State and Duke at halftime, like UNC, this is a young Georgia Tech team that hasn’t quite figure it all out yet.
The Yellow Jackets will present problems for Carolina on defense, Tech ranks 23rd nationally in scoring defense. Conversely this team struggles to score ranking 239th in the nation in scoring at just 65 points per game with nobody on their roster even in the top 25 in the conference in scoring. With just one player averaging double digits in scoring nobody on the roster presents a real threat to go off offensively.
The Tar Heels are coming off terrific offensive performances from Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo. They have done a great job lately of setting screens for their shooters and getting the ball in the hands of the right players in good scoring positions. Freshman point guard Marcus Paige is maturing on both ends of the floor and is passing the basketball with more ease and looks more comfortable getting the Heels into their offense.
At the end of the day UNC should run over a team like Georgia Tech who cannot hang with them in the scoring column and do not have the talent to slow down the pace of the game, especially on the road where they have yet to win a game this season. UNC will have to avoid letting this game become a trap and not look ahead to the NC State match up on Saturday and focus on playing a 40 minute game.
The Jackets strong half court defense could stun the Heels a bit and I expect this game to be a bit closer at half time than one might expect looking at the talent differential between these two teams. Look for the better side of the Tar Heels to come out after half time and win by double digits. Despite this being a prime opportunity to put together a convincing win by playing a full 40 minutes to their potential that’s not what I expect to see. UNC has yet to show the mental toughness to play the way they are capable of for an entire game and the combination of the Jackets desperation to notch a win in ACC play and their tough half court defense this just doesn’t seem like the game the Heels will play a complete ball game but they will get the win.