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NCAA Basketball ACC BasketballNorth Carolina Tar HeelsVirginia Cavaliers

North Carolina vs. Virginia Preview: Tar Heels Must Maintain Momentum

Marcus Paige

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels received their first ACC victory yesterday over Boston College, and I hope they got their celebrating out of the way, because they must go back to work tomorrow at Virginia. This is the team’s fifth conference game of the season, and even though they won yesterday, they are still just 1-3 in the ACC. Although they are still at the bottom of the conference standings, a win over Virginia can drastically improve their chances of moving back to the top.

Virginia does not have much of a star player, but they possess more of a balanced scoring attack. Their leading scorer is senior guard Joe Harris with just 11.3 points per game, and aside from him, sophomore guard Malcolm Brogdon is the only other player that is averaging double-digits this season. It is a good sign for the Tar Heels that most of Virginia’s scoring attack comes from the backcourt, because all of their guards are great defenders. Marcus Paige should be able to lockdown Harris or Brogdon, and if Leslie McDonald starts again, then he will be a huge help considering his size. J.P. Tokoto can be a huge defensive factor in the front and the backcourt, so the Tar Heels should have no problem stopping the two lead scoring guards and Virginia’s two starting forwards, Mike Tobey and Akil Mitchell. Obviously, James Michael McAdoo will have the main responsibility of stopping these guys, and he will need to have a huge scoring game as well. If McDonald can shoot effectively from beyond the arc, and Paige can once again perform like the star he is, then the Tar Heels have a great chance of coming away with another conference victory.

The Tar Heels are 3-1 against Virginia in the past two seasons, so these two teams are very familiar with each other; let’s just hope that history can repeat itself in tomorrow’s matchup. The only time the Tar Heels lost to Virginia during those last two season was when they played them on the road, so it will be interesting to see how they the perform on the road tomorrow.

You never know what you are going to get with this year’s team, and they seem to always find a way to blow all of their momentum from game to game. Right now, they are coming off of a brilliant performance against Boston College and should have a tremendous amount of confidence and momentum now that they have the pressure of receiving their first ACC victory out of the way.

Every game moving forward is going to be a battle, and the only way they are going to come out victorious is if they have an appropriate amount of momentum, especially for road games. Momentum is not only key for tomorrow, but it is vital for the rest of the season, so the Tar Heels must maintain it from the tip-off all the way throughout the battle against Virginia.