The North Carolina Tar Heels are on the right track after defeating the Maryland Terrapins by ten points in their last game, and they have a home game set today at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Although Georgia Tech is the bottom-feeder right now with an 0-4 record in conference play, they were 10-2 in non-conference play and are better than Boston College by my estimation.
The problem for the Yellow Jackets is the fact that they seem to get gassed in the second-half, because they kept it close with the Duke Blue Devils for one half before imploding in the second half (that, and Duke took over and finally looked like, you know, Duke) and losing by 16. The only two games in which Georgia Tech looked awful were the ones to start conference play against Miami and N.C. State, but those guys are ranked.
Georgia Tech has a stifling defense, but their offense is arguably the worst in the ACC with only a couple of efficient players and no actual offensive standouts. You can point to the offense as the reason why they lost to several teams, with their loss against Virginia Tech in overtime being the most disappointing of them all.
The Tar Heels look poised to continue to create an upswing in momentum, and the great news involving UNC basketball spilled over to recruiting after the commitment of top point guard Joel Berry, who was UNC’s biggest recruiting target in the 2014 class.
The Heels will have to watch for Georgia Tech’s Daniel Miller, who is the star of this team with a 20.2 PER and an all-around game that allows him to fill up the stat sheet. Miller is easily one of the conference’s best defensive players, and he owns a 2.7 defensive win shares total in addition to 6.7 rebounds per game and 2.4 blocks per game. The Tar Heels interior is notoriously “soft” on offense, and that could be a problem if they have an off-game on the perimeter.
Robert Carter also averages 6.7 rebounds per game and is another excellent defensive player on the inside, and that masks the fact that he is not the most efficient offensive player. Mfon Udofia can’t do much other than score, but he averages ten points per game and chips in three assists per game as the point guard, so watch for him and leading scorer Marcus Georges-Hunt on the offensive end. Those are the only two Yellow Jackets who should come close to scaring UNC Tar Heels fans on offense.
However, the reason why the Heels can’t sleep on an 0-4 Georgia Tech squad is because of the Yellow Jackets great defense, especially on the inside with stalwarts Miller and Carter. The fact that UNC is at home lessens the blow some, but they will either improve quickly on the inside or, more realistically, create shots and use their finesse offense on the perimeter and shooting to their advantage. This isn’t going to be as easy of a game for UNC as some people think due to matchup, but I would be surprised if this game was close. UNC is just far too talented, and Georgia Tech simply can’t score with a meager average of 65 points per game.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.