3 Keys for UNC Basketball vs. Georgia Tech


Can you believe it? The end of the UNC basketball season is upon us.  Selection Sunday is 12 days away, and Carolina only has two regular season games left.  Depending on how deep UNC goes into the ACC tournament, tonight’s game against Georgia Tech will be one of the last Carolina games that the selection committee will see before they make their picks.  Because of this, it is imperative that the Heels play well.  A dominant performance (like the 29 point victory Carolina had the last time they played) would definitely help the Heels get a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.  So, what must the Tar Heels do to ensure such a performance?  Here are the three things that I think are most important to Carolina.

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3. Rebounding

In the nine games Carolina has lost, they have out-rebounded opponents 356-339.  This doesn’t seem that bad.  I mean, they had more rebounds than their opponents, so it can’t be that bad, right? Wrong.  In the games Carolina has won, they have out-rebounded their opponents 868-627.  That is twelve rebounds more per game that Carolina has gotten in wins, compared to a two rebound advantage in losses.  Rebounding and getting second chances is especially important for the Heels, since they are not a great shooting team (they rank 39th in the country in shooting percentage).  If Carolina can dominate the boards, they will win the game, because opponents will not get second or third shots on each possession.  These extra opportunities have been Carolina’s downfall in some losses.

2. Pace

Wide-open dunks like this are a product of fast-breaks and a fast pace. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina works best when they are moving the ball up court quickly.  The defense isn’t able to get set, and Carolina is able to quickly get a good, high-percentage shot.  When the Heels slow down, such as at the end of games against Duke and Louisville, they are not nearly as successful.  Their shots are contested and usually from long-range.  To make matters worse, the Heels seem to lose energy.  Against Georgia Tech, Carolina needs to establish a frenetic pace, and keep it up.  I think the Yellow Jackets will tire, and Carolina will be able to pull away, much like what happened when the teams met the first time.

1. Get off to a fast start

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  • Georgia Tech is the underdog in this game and they know it.  But the Jackets do have a few things going for them.  This will be their last home game of the year, and thus it will be Senior Night.  Because of this, there will likely be a raucous crowd cheering on the seniors for their last home game.  Also, GT was embarrassed when they played the Heels a few weeks ago.  They will definitely want to go out and avenge that loss, if only to heal that pride.  If Carolina can get off to a fast start, they will shut up the crowd and will end any hope that Georgia Tech has of pulling off an upset.

    If Carolina can do these three things, I have no doubt that it will be a big win for the Heels.  And then, they can set their sights on Duke, and avenging the painful loss the Blue Devils inflicted two weeks ago.