Boston College basketball is looking to wrap up a difficult January which has already seen them go 1-5 in ACC play when far better things were possible. The last game of the month is at Conte Forum against the North Carolina Tar Heels, a traditional ACC power that just lost to its in-state rivals in Raleigh. For some insight on the Heels, Soaring to Glory turned to Keeping It Heel, North Carolina’s FanSided wing, and its lead editor, Matt.
STG: At 13-6 (3-3) this year, this is not what we’re used to seeing from North Carolina basketball. We know UNC lost some talent heading into this year, but does that fully account for what we’ve seen?
KIH: Sadly, it does not fully account for what we have seen this season. Yes, some growing pains were expected this year, losing four first round picks will do that to any program, but this season has been a disappointment in every sense of the word for Carolina fans.
This team has struggled defensively both in the half-court and in transition. Dexter Strickland, who tore his ACL mid-way through last season, has not been the same lock-down perimeter defender he was. The team has struggled to give consistent effort, fails to get back defensively, and surrenders easy transition buckets routinely. Perhaps the most frustrating thing for UNC fans has been the management of the starting lineup and rotations by head coach Roy Williams. UNC starts two offensively inept players in Strickland and center Desmond Hubert and have found themselves in big holes early in most of their losses this season. This team has a ton of talent, they just haven’t put it together this yet this season and Tar Heel Nation is beginning to wonder if it will happen at all this year.
STG: What do you think the March potential is for North Carolina in terms of ACC Tournament performance, NCAA Tournament seed, and the team’s ultimate fate?
KIH: This team is a lot better than the 2010 team that went to the NIT and I’m still holding firm on my preseason prediction that this team would struggle but eventually find their way enough to get into the NCAA Tournament. In terms of seeding, right now this is a bubble team but I think they eventually earn a seed between 7-9 in the tournament.
STG: Coming into this year, it looked as though UNC would rely heavily on James Michael McAdoo. How has he performed so far?
KIH: Expectations were far too high for McAdoo coming into this year. He’s been solid and is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder but he’s been very inconsistent. He plays too fast and has yet to find his niche. McAdoo is more comfortable playing facing the basket and has yet to develop a true post-up game, and until he does that he’s not going to be a player a true contender that UNC can rely on to lead them.
STG: Offensively, what can we expect to see out of North Carolina, and what kind of offense are they running now with their less-experienced roster?
KIH: UNC is still trying to run their traditional fast-paced offense that relies on the fast break and quick shots early in the shot clock. Trying is the key word here; Carolina is still ranked 8th in the nation in scoring and 2nd in assists. When we’re rolling, the vast majority of our field goals are assisted on and the team is connecting from outside. This team’s greatest weapon in the half-court is their three-point shooting led by Reggie Bullock, who leads the conference in three point field goal percentage, and P.J. Hairston, who is a threat to pour it on at any given moment. UNC struggles when their opponent is able to dictate the pace of the game and forces the Heels to slow things down and win in the half-court.
STG: How will this BC/UNC game go?
KIH: Although I’ve spent most of this discussion telling you about the problems with UNC basketball, the fact remains that this team is much better than Boston College right now. I like what I see from players such as Ryan Anderson but the Heels just have too much firepower. UNC has their flaws but they won’t lose to a team that ranks no higher than 133rd in the nation in any offensive category. Coming off a loss to arch rival NC State, expect Carolina to come out fired up and win by double-digits.