This has been a common theme hasn’t it? In what has proven to be quite the up and down season for the Tar Heels, there hasn’t been a lack of games that seem to hold the fate of the entire season in the balance. Unfortunately for us fans, that’s just one added factor to our already high stress level. With Carolina’s loss to NC State on Saturday, we’ve entered yet again a matchup that Carolina MUST win (not that they all aren’t must wins at this point) and, as with their last must win situation (Florida State), Carolina must be able to convert away from Chapel Hill.
Boston College isn’t a team that will scare you on paper. They don’t rank in the top 150 of college basketball in any major statistical category and they aren’t known for doing one thing particularly well. An issue that North Carolina has had in past games has been defending the three point shot and fortunately for the Heels, Boston College is only shooting 33.7% on the season. Lonnie Jackson, the one long range bright spot for the Eagles, shoots a shade under 41% individually, but is only averaging 10 ppg. Point blank, there supposedly aren’t that many shooters that North Carolina will have to contain. However, this is the ACC and Boston College will be hyped for this game which means anything can happen.
Guys like Jackson are going to be on their game. For a team with no shot at the NCAA tourney outside of a conference tournament title, beating UNC in front of their home fans would certainly give their season some sense of validation. With that being the case, a will to win could certainly stimulate a hot shooting night and an overly tenacious defensive performance that could bury a team that’s much more talented like Carolina. For the Tar Heels to avoid their second string of back to back conference losses this season, they’ll need to build a lead early much like they did against Maryland a week ago. A bundle of early buckets from James Michael McAdoo and Reggie Bullock will dispel any emotionally charged run BC may be hoping for out of the gate.
The Carolina team is better than Boston College. Even if that’s the case, taking conference opponents likely is fatal even if the opponent is in last place. The Tar Heels need to move on. They had a bad game on Saturday and they lost, but that’s in the past. The scoreboard is even again and Boston College is the first of several games that Carolina must take advantage of. It’s imperative for a team that’s in a make or break situation to take advantage of teams you only get one chance to play during the regular season especially if they rank in the bottom of the league standings.
It’s not often you label a matchup with the ACC’s worst team a must win, but this isn’t an ordinary Tar Heel season. Every win counts more than they have in years past. Fortunately for UNC, they’ve responded well in this situation before and if they play with the same mental outlook that they had against UNLV and FSU, then our confidence should be high.