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January 28, 2013North Carolina got a little bit of a reality check this past weekend against N.C. State, as the Wolfpack defeated UNC at its own game in convincing fashion 91-83.
Now, UNC will head to Boston College (9-10, 1-5) for a showdown up north in Beantown.
The coming games will be a critical stretch for the Tar Heels, as the next three games are against foes that were projected at the bottom of the ACC and should all be winnable games for the Tar heels.
Boston College might have a record that would deceive most opponents when one first looks at it. However, in the four of the five losses the Eagles have in the ACC, it has lost by five or less points, including heartbreaking setbacks to N.C. State and Miami (Fl.).
North Carolina will have to forget about last week's loss to the Wolfpack and get back to work. UNC doesn't have the greatest road record so far this year, posting a 3-4 record away from home.
The last time Boston College defeated the Tar Heels was back in the 2010 season, when the Eagles won 71-67.
Tip off will be at 9pm eastern time and will be aired on ESPNU from Conte Forum.
EAGLES LOOK TO SOAR AT HOME
As mentioned before, Boston College isn't a team that one should look at its record and judge them as a team.
With four of the losses in the ACC coming by five points or less, this is a team that could be a real thorn in the side of the Tar Heels.
Coach Roy Williams mentioned about how this team has been affected and what it will need to do to better its 3-4 record away from home.
"I think it's a mindset that you can beat people on the road,"? Williams said. "I think having confidence that you can block out the crowd cheering like crazy for the other team, you can block out the runs that they make knowing that you're going to respond and make runs of your own. I think it's a toughness factor, handling the adversity and sticking to what you're supposed to do as opposed to trying to go on your own."
Boston College is a team that plays mostly six or seven players in its rotation.
Head coach Steve Donahue plays mostly a guard oriented type of team, circled around their leading scorer in Ryan Anderson.
The 6-8 sophomore for the Eagles has averaged 16.4 points per game, while leading the team also in rebounding with 9.1. Anderson has to be the main focus for the Tar Heels, as he has had double digit field goal attempts in ACC play, while playing 30-plus minutes.
While Anderson is the focal point in the offense, Donahue is still trying to implement his type of offense that allowed his team at Cornell to go to the NCAA tournament three years in a row.
With the four guards on the floor that start for Donahue, Boston College is a team that loves to shoot behind the arc, as it leads the ACC in three point attempts with 22 a game (UNC is second in that category with 20 attempts a game).
Olivier Hanlan has been picking up his play in the ACC, as he has been averaging 16.0 points per game in the last five games and has been the second leading scorer for the Eagles (13.7).
While Anderson and Hanlan will get the majority of the attention from the Tar Heels, it must not allow sharp shooter Lonnie Jackson open, as he is shooting 40.7 percent from behind the arc and leads the team in made three pointers (47).
Williams knows that his team can't hang on to the loss last week and really wants his team to focus on Tuesday night.
"We've got another challenge right now because going into Boston College is not easy. BC, they shoot the ball well, they shoot more threes than anybody in our league, present some matchup problems for us. Everybody will be fired up when North Carolina comes.
SORTING OUT THE UNC LINEUP
If one has watched that past few games, it may look like Williams has either been very mad with his players or trying to find different players at different situations that can give him heart and desire in the game.
Jackson Simmons played 15 minutes last week against N.C. State, while J.P. Tokoto has had two straight games with 15-plus minutes.
On the other hand, P.J. Hairston has seen his minutes slightly decrease the past few games, but that was because of foul trouble and the lack of hustle, according to Williams.
Williams has taken some heat the past week with the lack of playing time for Hairston, as he is one of the Tar Heels top scorers and three point specialists when he's on the floor.
"Foul trouble, I think, in the game before. I think he and James Michael (McAdoo) both had two fouls early in the first half. That was part of it," Williams said. "And then the other thing, if you go back the last two games, J.P. Tokoto has played probably his best two games."
"And so it's not just P.J.'s right to be out there on the floor," Williams continued. "I just can't stomach those kinds of things (talking about the lack of hustle by Hairston). I keep giving guys chances even when they do something like that, but there is no question that's the reason he sat out for a long time on Saturday."
In the grand scheme of things though,Williams has played eight to nine players in the last two games, allowing all of them to play double digit minutes in each.
Whether this is something the Tar Heels plan to continue through the rest of the season or for specific matchups have yet to seen and will need to be carefully watched in the future.
However, UNC is certainly becoming one of the deepest teams in the nation, but could that possibly be hurting the team overall? Time will be the one to answer that.
Simply put, Tuesday night is the kind of game the Tar Heels need in the win column if they're to solidify their place in the middle of the pack of ACC standings and to keep their hopes of the NCAA Tournament strong.
Given the way the team has played away from home it's far from a given that the Tar Heels will come away from Boston with the win, but a triumph could sure lift their spirits coming off Saturday night's setback in Raleigh.