North Carolina has won three straight games, is playing defense at a hectic pace and running up and down the court on offense just like it did earlier this season. The Tar Heels are finally looking like the team many projected they would be during their December run, and nothing would set it all back more than being upset by the Maryland Terrapins at the Dean Dome Tuesday.
This is not to say Maryland is a bad team, but combine the way North Carolina is playing right now with the season-long inconsistency of the Terrapins and this game is basically a must-win situation for the home team.
A victory places North Carolina over .500 in the ACC at 5-4 and right back in the thick of things for a respectable seed come conference tournament time. A loss not only leaves the Tar Heels below .500 in the league and in a battle near the mid-bottom portion of the conference, but it also places the Tar Heels in must-win games from here on out. North Carolina probably is close to that right now, but a loss Tuesday will undoubtedly bring more doubt and pressure on coach Roy Williams and his group.
The main concern for Carolina is the threat that Maryland’s leading scorer Dez Wells can go off in at any given game no matter how tough of a defense he faces. Wells single-handedly beat Miami last week when he scored all of his 21 points in the second half, including the game-winning three-pointer. In Maryland’s last game against Virginia Tech, Wells scored 19 points in the Terps’ dominating victory. The Tar Heels must lock it up against Wells and force anyone else to beat them. If Wells is the reason for a Maryland upset, North Carolina will have only itself to blame.
North Carolina needs to keep winning, because a loss will make everything much harder than it needs to be going forward. The Tar Heels are looking great right now; they cannot afford to waste the last week-plus with a loss at home.
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