The North Carolina Tar Heels enter their final four games needing to keep winning to preserve the number one spot in the ACC.
The North Carolina Tar Heels enter the last four games of the season with a razor thin lead in the conference. Razor thin is still a lead though, and it is a better position than anyone else in the conference has so far. Keeping it will only get tougher as the Tar Heels round down their season with State, Virginia, Syracuse, and Duke.
The threat of Duke is obvious. They beat the Heels in Chapel Hill not that long ago and they get the next game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Yet the plan for beating Duke has not changed, it just needs to be executed for forty minutes. Duke is still undermanned and likely will be the same way when the Heels arrive. It will be tough and it will be Marshall Plumlee’s senior night.
The other games present more tactical challenges. Virginia and Syracuse both rely on physical defenses that disrupt. The Tar Heels beat the Orange earlier this year when they deployed Isaiah Hicks and set him up with good threats from Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson. Beating Syracuse is mostly a reminder that Roy Williams teams should do what they want to do, not what is given to them. Syracuse would like nothing more than to pit Trevor Cooney in a three point battle against the Heels.
Going to Virginia is the big game in this series. It is dangerous first because the Heels cannot overlook State to get there. Virginia is coming off a close loss to Miami, who the Tar Heels dismantled in their last game. So the Heels can’t overlook Virginia either. Complacency gets you placed. Virginia is somehow number three in the country despite more conference losses and more overall losses than the Heels. The Heels should use that as their motivation.
More from Old North Banter
- Carolina Panthers: Secondary battles to watch in training camp 2020
- Carolina Panthers: 2020 training camp kicks off on Tuesday
- NC Colleges Provide Coronavirus Results from Athletic Departments
- Court alleges Zion’s Stepfather received $400k
- UNC Football gets Commitment from Top Cornerback
Beating Virginia is a matter of taking them out of their patient quest for sixty points. Impose tempo, get an early lead, and Virginia will have to get uncomfortable to try and catch you. You want Virginia to play a game in the 80s not the 50s if you want to win. Virginia is a Big Ten team without too many other Big Ten teams to play.
Then there is tonight’s game against NC State. The previous meeting against State did not showcase the real strengths of State’s team. While the Tar Heels also did not play a solid game, one has to imagine that Mark Gottfried has looked at the Duke tape. There was not a lot of Anthony Barber in the last game, there should be a good deal more in this one. Stop Barber and you stop State. Don’t and well you could be in for some stress.
Is it that important for the Heels to win the regular season title? It may be since the 2009 and 2005 title teams were regular season champions. The ACC Regular Season Champ also has a good line on a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Being the one seed presents the easiest road to the Final Four. If the Tar Heels are serious contenders, then they will need to seize such advantages and not trip into them.
It all starts tonight against State.