The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday May 17th

Preview: UNC to face Boston College for second time this season, this time at home

UNC senior forward Leaky Black during UNC Men's basketball's home game against Virginia Tech on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, at the Dean Smith Center.
Buy Photos UNC senior forward Leaky Black during UNC Men's basketball's home game against Virginia Tech on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, at the Dean Smith Center.

As the 2021-22 men’s basketball season has progressed, the Tar Heels have shown both their strengths and weaknesses on different courts.

One court, in particular, has proven to be extremely beneficial to this team, as it is where they boast an undefeated record: Roy Williams Court. 

On Monday, the Tar Heels came out on top in a back-and-forth game against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Although they shot 33 percent in the second half, they rose from a four-point halftime lead to win 78-68.

Say home-court advantage is a hoax all you want, but the environment of the Dean E. Smith Center is what this North Carolina team feeds off of, evidenced by its 10-0 record in Chapel Hill. It's also what the team will need to defeat Boston College for the second time this season on Wednesday.

With their 8-10 record, the Eagles don’t pose a huge threat to the Tar Heels’ undefeated record at home. But when looking closer at the statistics, Boston College is equal to — and even outranks — North Carolina in several areas.

Here are just a couple of areas the team needs to focus on to defeat Boston College on Wednesday.

Consistency across the court

While UNC ranks third in the ACC in points per game, it falls drastically when it comes to defense. 

Out of the 15 ACC teams, North Carolina is ranked 13th in defensive scoring, and Boston College is ranked seventh. Along with these rankings, the Eagles also have an average of 6.7 steals per game this season compared to UNC’s average of five.

Against Virginia Tech, sophomore guard Caleb Love scored a total of 22 points, junior big man Armando Bacot had 14 points and 20 rebounds, and all five Tar Heel starters scored in double figures on Monday. Nevertheless, UNC’s overall field goal percentage still sat at a low 36.5 percent.

During several games this season, the score has gotten distressingly close at times because of North Carolina’s inconsistency. Missing layups, unnecessary fouling and miscommunication on the court are easy fixes that will improve the team's game when playing on the road as well as at home. 

The last time UNC faced Boston College, on Jan. 2, the Tar Heels won 91-65 in Boston, with an overall field goal percentage of 52.5. 

If the Tar Heels want to maintain consistency on both sides of the court Wednesday, they will have to deliver clever offense, aggressive defense and unshakeable energy like they did against the Eagles earlier this month.

On-court leadership

On the court, no matter how consistent North Carolina grows to be, none of it will make any difference if there is no leadership or confidence from the players.

In his first season as head coach, Hubert Davis said he strongly believed this UNC team has great talent and potential, which has been demonstrated multiple times this season.

However, he has continually identified the primary cause of the Tar Heels’ losses and shakiness this season as a lack of leadership in the huddle.

There are several key players for the Tar Heels this season, such as its high-scorer in Love, its center in Bacot — who already has 15 double-doubles this season — and its defensive stopper in senior forward Leaky Black.

When watching North Carolina play, the team's lack of cohesion is obvious, making it look chaotic and convoluted at times. With strong leaders on this team to dictate the communication and organization during the game, the Tar Heels will be better able to use each second to their advantage.

As Boston College made clear in its defeat against Clemson earlier this season, when it staged a massive comeback from a 23-point deficit, it is not a team to be underestimated.

Rather than playing with arrogance, the Tar Heels will have to play with unmatched tenacity and stability to turn this season around and rise to the occasion — for Wednesday's game and beyond.

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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