North Carolina Basketball: Tar Heels Still Have A Lot To Prove

By Gregory Philson
North Carolina Tar Heels
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels have won 11 straight games, have a player of the year candidate in Marcus Paige, and have turned from a team outside of the NCAA tournament to a possible three-seed.

Still, there is a lot North Carolina needs to show this week against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Duke Blue Devils in wrapping up the ACC season. The Tar Heels’ winning streak has come because of resilient play, strong defense and some luck. It is safe to say even coach Roy Williams would admit his team should have at least two or three more losses. North Carolina took a chance against Duke when, down by 11, it shifted to a 1-3-1 zone. The change worked, but if the Devils had hit one or two three-pointers, it could have been a blowout. The Florida State Seminoles also gave North Carolina all they had. The Seminoles led early and looked and played better than the Tar Heels during much of the first half. Had the Seminoles broken free for one more run, they could have come away with the upset.

Finally, the North Carolina State Wolfpack got a career day from T.J. Warren. The Tar Heels needed every bit of the 31 second half points from Paige. If one player shook Paige off line during his way to the hoop for the game-winning layup, the game would have gone the other way.

Notre Dame may not look like much of a challenge on paper, but North Carolina cannot look through the Irish towards the game against Duke. The Tar Heels need to show they are focused on the task at hand and come away with an easy victory over Notre Dame.

When the Tar Heels travel down the road to Durham to wrap up the regular season, they need to prove the victory earlier this season was not a fluke. North Carolina does not have to win, but it does have to compete. Duke is still one of the best teams in the country and definitely wants to avenge the loss at Chapel Hill. This game will be a showcase of just how tough and confident the Tar Heels really are.

The Tar Heels have one week and two games left before tournament play begins, and need to show they are ready for anything.

Gregory T. Philson is an ACC college basketball writer at Follow him on Twitter @GTPhilson, “Like” him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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