After two straight wins, the North Carolina basketball team is back to having a .500 record. It will look to continue its winning streak against a Boston College team that has lost five of its last six games and is looking to get back to .500 itself on Saturday in Chapel Hill.
UNC is 18-5 all-time against the Eagles and hasn’t lost to them since 2010, when the Tar heels fell 71-67 in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
Here are the three keys to locking in UNC's third straight victory.
Wear them down
UNC’s injury struggles have been well documented this season, but the Eagles have had it bad, too. Boston College doesn’t have a single player that has played in all 21 of its games, and only three have started in at least 17 games.
Among those three are the team’s two best players, Derryck Thornton and Jay Heath. Those two are Boston College’s leading scorers, but only average 12.8 and 12.1 points per game.
If the Tar Heels can make this a fast-paced game and wear the Eagles’ best players down, there aren't a lot of reinforcements that can replace them on the court.
The thinnest position for Boston College is in the frontcourt. The Eagles essentially have just three forwards that they rotate at the four and five positions, so UNC should look to take advantage of that.
Don’t let them get hot
Boston College’s offense has not impressed.
The Eagles average a mere 61.9 points per game against ACC opponents and shoot just 27.7 percent from 3-point range. They have just three players that average double figures, and none of them average more than 13 points per game.
Therefore, a UNC defense that is giving up 70.8 points per game will look to keep its opponent in check. Recently, the Tar Heels played well in their victory at N.C. State, giving up 65 points and holding the Wolfpack to 4-20 shooting from deep.
The UNC defense just needs to keep a tight hold on the Boston College offense. Any team can get hot if a defense lets them, and the Tar Heels can’t allow this to happen.
With the return of Cole Anthony seeming imminent, the emergence of Garrison Brooks couldn’t have come at a better time for UNC.
Brooks is averaging 21 points in his last seven games and has recorded a double-double in seven of his last eight games. There is no question that without Anthony on the court, he is the best player for the Tar Heels.
But even if Anthony returns on Saturday, UNC still needs to get the ball to Brooks.
Anthony can’t go one-on-five every possession for the Tar Heels and be successful, and he won’t need to now that Brooks is playing well. They could work off of ball screens in order for the team to utilize its two most prolific scorers and dominate a thin Boston College frontcourt.
In order for the Tar Heels to capture their third straight victory and look for a season turnaround and NCAA Tournament at-large bid, the team can't come out flat on Saturday. A home loss to the Eagles would be devastating to UNC’s resume.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.