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Preview: #4 UNC vs. Boston College Men’s Basketball

NCAA Basketball: Boston College at Clemson Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturday afternoon, the Eagles will play host to #4 UNC at a sold-out Conte Forum. The Eagles are sitting at 2-4 in the ACC and need a big-time, statement win. Victory over the Tar Heels would certainly qualify, and I’m sure the Eagles remember getting dismantled by UNC in the ACC Tournament last year to end BC’s season. It will be a tall order, though:

Following their massively disappointing season last year, (I’m sure everyone reading this has heard how the Tar Heels became the first preseason #1 to miss the NCAA Tournament), the Tar Heels overhauled and retooled their roster through the transfer portal. Most notably, longtime program stalwart Caleb Love left for Arizona (with a quick pit stop at Michigan). However, seniors RJ Davis and Armando Bacot still lead a team that has found more balance this year. Notre Dame transfer Cormac Ryan brings consistent floor spacing and the ability to catch fire from beyond the arc; though he’s only shooting 30.2% from behind the arc due to a early-season slump, he connected on 4-7 threes last time out. Harrison Ingram, a 6’7 transfer from Stanford, is averaging 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while shooting over 40% from 3. True freshman Elliot Cadeau, who reclassified up a year to join UNC early, has had a bit of a struggle in adjusting to the college game. However, he has excellent passing chops and is a valuable piece for UNC. All this to say, UNC’s roster has much more balance than last year’s — and they match up very well with the Eagles. BC will need to execute at a very high level defensively, because UNC can put up points in a hurry. Zackery and Kelley did a good job against Markus Burton in the second half against the Irish; they will have to turn it up a level against one of the best pure scorers in the country in Davis. McGlockton, too, will have his hands full with Ingram. Perhaps the most worrying matchup, however, is Bacot banging up against Post down low. Bacot plays a bruising, physical game down low. How Post fairs defensively, and his ability to stay out of foul trouble, will be huge in this one.

Offensively, I think BC needs to take full advantage Post’s mobility and shooting. Bacot is one of the best rebounders in the country and a good shot blocker, but he wants to stay home in the paint. Spreading the floor, with Post running the offense at the top of the key, will make life difficult on Carolina — will Bacot step up, allowing cutters more freedom into the paint? Or will he stay home, allowing Post to go to work? The past few games, Post has been a bit less assertive in trying to get his shot. He needs to have a monster game tomorrow. So does Claudell Harris. Hopefully his clunker against Notre Dame is well behind him, because his shot creation and dribble penetration will be huge against North Carolina.

Lastly — let’s hope Conte is packed. The Eagles have shown they can pull upsets — just look at UVA last year. It won't be easy, but BC has the talent. Hopefully there is a crowd behind them.

Prediction: UNC 84 — BC 76