The North Carolina Tar Heels pulled off a surprising upset this past Sunday, defeating the third-ranked, defending national champion Louisville Cardinals 93-84. It was an impressive team performance for the Heels, who were led by sophomore point guard sensation Marcus Paige. Paige set a new career high with 32 points, and continues to impress basketball fans around the country.
After the Heels’ shocking 83-80 home loss last week to Belmont, there weren’t many UNC fans that expected a close game against the Cardinals, let alone a win. The Heels looked like an experienced team, even though they had freshman and sophomores playing most of the second half. After the game was tied at halftime, the Heels built up to a 16 point lead at one point in the second half and never looked back.
Paige had a new career high for the third time already this season, shooting an impressive 9-12 from the floor and 3-5 from 3-point range. Although he scored more than a third of the team’s points, the win seemed to be a total team effort, with Paige taking the lead and everyone else playing their respective role.
Freshman Kennedy Meeks really had a coming out party, and impressed the likes of Dick Vitale, who was announcing the game. Meeks finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, and one steal, all while shooting 5-6 from the floor and only committing a single turnover.
Meeks could play a major factor in the Tar Heels’ success this season seeing as James Michael McAdoo may under-perform for the second year in a row. McAdoo played limited minutes his freshman year but showed flashes of brilliance behind what are now NBA players in Tyler Zeller and John Henson. Due to his size and athletic ability, McAdoo was projected to be a lottery pick two years ago, but decided to stick around for his sophomore year. When a player is projected to be a lottery pick fans and coaches alike expect that player to be somewhat dominant, but McAdoo’s dominance has been very inconsistent.
What are we supposed to expect as Tar Heel fans from this year’s team? Should we coin a phrase like ‘Heartbreak Heels’ or ‘The Bipolar Boys in Blue?’ The Heels lose at home to Belmont and shoot under 50 percent from the free throw line, and a week later defeat the defending national champion Cardinals of Louisville with a somewhat dominant second half performance.
In a week’s time, fans went from being about as disappointed as possible after a home loss to as impressed as possible with a neutral site win over the third-ranked team nationally.
Although I am happy with the recent victory, I am hesitant to completely jump on the bandwagon for this year’s team. Call me a pessimistic fan if you want; call me whatever you’d like. The bottom line is that I am not sure which team I think will run out of the locker room each game, although obviously I would prefer the team that wins. It could be the team that somehow allows 15 three-pointers to be made without making defensive adjustments, makes only 22 out of 48 free throws and suffers a home loss to a mid-major team. Contrarily, it could also be a team that makes 68 percent of its free throws, shoots 54 percent from the floor, out rebounds, and ultimately defeats the third-ranked team in the land.
One thing I do expect this season however, is the unexpected. I am preparing myself for heartbreak in a few games, and I am preparing myself for excitement in a few more. But watch out basketball fans, Dicky V gave y’all a heads up last Sunday: If the Heels get their whole squad together (meaning their suspended players back) they have the potential to be very dangerous and the potential to still be playing deep into March.
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