UNC Basketball Loss Doesn’t Mean A Lot, But It Doesn’t Mean Nothing


Some instant reaction from North Carolina’s 71 to 67 loss to Northern Iowa on Saturday afternoon.

While you were watching the football team win the ACC Coastal Division Championship, the #1 North Carolina Men’s Basketball team fell to unranked Northern Iowa on the road. The Panthers outscored the Tar Heels 39 to 26 in the second half, including a 29-8 stretch in the second half over a 12 minute span.

UNC shot 26-58 from the field and 5-18 from three. Justin Jackson led the Heels in scoring with 25 points, a good sign considering that he had gotten off to a slow start before this game. But almost every other Tar Heel underwhelmed, including Joel Berry II (five points), Kennedy Meeks (10 points), Brice Johnson (10 points) and Theo Pinson (two points).

The 7,018 people in attendance in Cedar Falls, Iowa to witness the big upset provided an exciting atmosphere and certainly went home happy.

November basketball really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. For this Tar Heel basketball team, the goal has always been winning a National Championship, and today’s loss doesn’t hurt the Heels’ chances at winning the championship at all.

Today’s loss also came without Marcus Paige, the Heels’ best player. It’s hard to judge Carolina too harshly on one loss that came without the team’s fearless senior leader. With Marcus Paige, Carolina probably wins this game easily.

With that said, though, this loss doesn’t mean nothing. Carolina should have won this game easily with or without Marcus Paige. The fact that they did not is concerning, because it does not bode well for how the rest of the season could go.

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels /

North Carolina Tar Heels

It’s concerning that Joel Berry II and Theo Pinson combined for seven points on three of 10 shooting. Those two players were supposed to rise up in the absence of Marcus Paige, and instead, both wilted today.

It’s concerning that Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks weren’t able to dominate inferior competition in the post. Both players are so talented but have a tendency in some games to not be able to translate that talent into production. Today was one of those games. Both big men will be fine over the course of the rest of the season.

And it’s concerning that Carolina could let this happen at all. I don’t want to dive too much into the “emotional” aspect of this Tar Heel basketball team, because more often than not, discussions of a team’s motor or drive are fruitless and not based in facts but opinions. However, in this case, it may be fair to question if the team was up for this game. NIU didn’t shoot particularly well at just 42.1% from the field and only scored 71 points. Carolina should have won today, and this loss opens the door for more question asking about the “drive” of the Tar Heel basketball team.

Roy Williams will make sure this team gets better and practices hard, and there is a long time between now and March, when college basketball games really start to count. Today’s loss doesn’t mean a lot, but it doesn’t mean nothing, either.