NC State gave up 100 points in a 4-overtime win over Nebraska in December but have not given up as many points in a loss this year as they did in the 100-80 loss to UNC on Saturday. With the next three games at home, followed by road games at Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech before finishing up the home schedule against Boston College and a rematch with UNC; NC State has a legitimate chance to close the season with six wins or better. The Wolfpack will not match up well against Wake Forest, UNC and Florida St, but should get wins against Pittsburgh, BC, and Georgia Tech with better defense and more balance on offense. Games against Syracuse and Notre Dame are toss ups at home that should give NC State a slight edge. Closing the season at 17-14 should improve ACC tournament seeding and give some hope for post-season play with a good showing in Greensboro.
You know it’s going to be a good day when your game buddy, aka granddaughter, chooses Chick-fila-A before the game. Even snow in the early morning and a cold windy day couldn’t change the mood inside as retired UNC coach Roy Williams was formally recognized with a banner in the rafters at the Smith Center, Armando Bacot reached the 1,000-points career milestone, Michael Jordan and most of the 1982 National Championship team were on hand, and the Tar Heels playing their most complete half of the year on the way to beating rival NC State. Active defense, great ball movement, good shot selection. Perhaps this is the Carolina that most expected to see. Add this game’s crowd engagement, and you can again say “This is Carolina basketball!” Scoring 100 points and limiting your rival’s best player to one made basket makes for a great day, but one NC State fan making his way through the crowd after the game said it all as he commented about his disappointment with the game: “Dang… we got y’all biscuits!”
Grayson Allen continues to make headlines for dirty play after little punishment following tripping incidents while at Duke, and accusations of dirty play since coming to the NBA. ESPN reported that Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso suffered a fractured right wrist and will need surgery after a fall following a flagrant foul from Allen during the Milwaukee-Chicago game on Friday. It’s time for the league office to put an end to this type of dangerous play. If Isaiah Stewart was suspended for two games for retaliating after Lebron James elbowed him, certainly Allen should at least get the same light one-game suspension that James received.
You won’t need deep analytics to understand why UNC struggled against Wake Forest on Saturday. The box score tells the story, but does not fully explain how the Tar Heels spent most of another game getting bullied by the other team, showing little resistance on drives to the basket, and allowing uncontested 3-point shots again and again. Ups and downs are fun on a seesaw, but not in basketball. Perhaps it’s not time to panic, but after 18 games the Tar Heels still have not shown that they are capable of consistently playing at a high level on either side of the court.
My “Group of 7” coaches and their teams had a record of 29-19 over the last month. Villanova showed the most improvement, going 6-0 for the month. Monmouth went 1-4 and had three games postponed.
|Hubert Davis||North Carolina||12-5|
When a team is scheduled 25-30 games, expect a few losses. Halfway through the season, every major Division I Basketball team has at least two losses. Local teams from Chapel Hill and Durham wearing blue took losses tonight. The difference in team colors seems to parallel the difference in the way each team played. While a more mature team wearing light blue got blown out again after playing their best game of the year, the freshman laden team wearing dark blue lost by one point in overtime. Here goes that thing again about a coach “shouldn’t have to coach effort.” But a coach and team have to have a competent game plan, and a competent backup plan. If a coach isn’t going to coach effort on the court, he needs to put the right combination of players on the court that will get each other moving. Captains, maybe? Draw your own conclusions. The box score will show a loss for both teams, but it’s how a team loses that matters.