As I watched the Tar Heels walk off the court against NC State last week, I could not help but to think about the North Carolina football game against Louisville. If you recall, the Heels lost to Louisville 39-34. However they were losing 36-7 at halftime. The North Carolina Football Tar Heels clawed their way back scoring 20 points in the 4th quarter alone only to fall short. Despite the loss, this game set the momentum, emotion and fire that drove the Tar Heels for the rest of the season. The football team compiled 4 straight wins after that and beat NC State which they have not been able to accomplish in years. Looking into my magical UNC crystal ball, I see the NC State game being the game that sets the tone for the basketball team for the remainder of the season.
UNC was getting embarrassed by nearly 20 points at halftime. Nothing was falling for UNC. I do not know what Roy Williams said at halftime but whatever it was, it worked. North Carolina went off for 57 points in second half. Like the football team, they fell a bit short, losing to NC State 91-83. On Tuesday night against Boston College, the Tar Heels played a dominating game maintaining a double digit lead for most of the game. Granted that BC is not what anyone would call an upper tier team (9-11, 1-6), however the Heels showed that they could play with a sense of urgency. Playing a team like BC college directly after that loss to NC State was probably the best thing for Carolina. It was a confidence boosting game. Had they had to play someone like a Duke or Miami and lost again, the passion that they played with during the NC State game might have been for nil.
UNC takes on Virginia Tech in another home game that could help to bolster their confidence and hone their abilities. Virginia Tech is 11-9 on the year. With Erik Green at the helm, they are always dangerous. The Tar Heels can not take this game lightly. They have to play extra hard now that P.J. Hairston is out of the line-up. Players like Reggie Bullock and J.P. Tokoto will have to step up on offense and defense in order for them to come away with back-to-back ACC wins. If they can continue the play like they did in the 2nd half of the NC State game, it will be hard for anyone to beat them in the ACC. Thank you NC State because I think that you just might have woken up the giant.