North Carolina vs. Miami Preview: Must-win Game for Tar Heels

By Jeremy Roth
North Carolina Tar Heels
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, the North Carolina Tar Heels take on the Miami Hurricanes in Chapel Hill. It is vital that the Tar Heels come out with a win, considering their loss in the ACC opener at Wake Forest the other day.

Miami is coming off a close game loss to No. 2 Syracuse, who is the Tar Heels’ next opponent. Both teams are yet to win a game in ACC play, but Miami definitely has more of the momentum considering the way it matched up against the tough Syracuse squad. The Tar Heels have their backs against the wall, and if they plan on changing that, they must defeat Miami.

The Hurricanes are led by Rion Brown, who leads the team in scoring with about 13 points per game.

Tar Heels’ point guard Marcus Paige really struggled in the Wake Forest game, and he will most likely be matched up with Brown in the frontcourt. If Paige can get back to the way he played during non-conference play, the Tar Heels should have no problem being successful against Miami, but he cannot do it alone.

James Michael McAdoo is so close to reaching his full potential, and every Tar Heel fan is just waiting for him to have a breakout game. This would be the perfect game to do it in, because then the Tar Heels will be set going into Syracuse.

I am unsure as to whether or not Joel James will be back from injury, and if he is out yet again, Brice Johnson will need to continue to make big plays in the backcourt like he has been able to do thus far.  

Leslie McDonald was beyond cold from three-point range in the Wake Forest game, shooting just 1-7, but if he can find his shot again then Miami is in huge trouble.

Miami comes into this contest with an 8-6 record, so it is obvious that it has struggled thus far, but the Tar Heels cannot underestimate it. The team needs to realize that they are also no longer a ranked team, so every game moving forward is virtually an even matchup.

If they have any hopes of being successful in the ACC, it is essential that they play every single game like it is against teams such as Michigan State, Kentucky or Louisville, all of whom they defeated during non-conference play.

The Tar Heels have close to zero momentum coming into this game, so it is vital that they get off to a great start right off the tip. If they decide to take their performance from Wake Forest into the beginning of this game, they can and will get blown out.

The loser of this contest will be in a deep hole in the ACC, and it may be one that could be impossible to get out of. The ACC is one of the toughest divisions in college basketball, and the team that usually comes out as the champion is the one that has the most momentum and confidence throughout conference play.

If the Tar Heels lose this matchup, all chances of gaining momentum and confidence will be out the window, and they will be doomed for their matchup against Syracuse on Saturday.  It may still be early in the season, but this is a must-win for North Carolina.

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