Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
Two games in, frosh Barnes started to hear mumbles over uncertainty after going 0-12 from the field against Minnesota, and followed up with a 4-12 shooting performance against Vandy.
Many suspected this Tar Heels squad to turn in another effort similar to a season before where they missed on the big dance.
That notion was soon threw out and North Carolina is now in position to win the ACC regular season title after Virginia Tech defeated Duke and the 'Heels took care of business against Maryland 87-76.
If won, North Carolina would have four of the last five ACC regular season championships.
"I've just preached the whole year, let's just try to do everything we can do to get better," said head coach Roy Williams.
It's time to give credit where credit is due. Coach Williams has turned this young North Carolina team into a contender mid-season when some much turmoil surrounded the program.
Earlier this season, if I would have told some North Carolina would be tied with the Duke Blue Devils (26-3, 12-2) to potentially win the ACC regular season title they wouldn't buy it. But, North Carolina has done a good job of proving its doubters wrong.
Every since Kendall Marshall took over the duties in the backcourt, North Carolina has been on a roll losing one game on the road to rival Duke.
"We have a chance to win the ACC's," Marshall said after a good win against Maryland. "We've got to take it one game at a time. I think we did a good job today coming out playing."
The finishing push might be the most difficult in the conference, however. North Carolina will travel to take on the Florida State Seminoles (20-8, 10-4), who will be without their superstar Chris Singleton.
Three days later, the 'Heels will return home to take on Duke for a possible first-place showdown in one of the best rivalries in college basketball.
Coach Williams said that he likes his players to have big goals and dreams but the only way to accomplish them is stay extremely focused. But in the words of freshman guard Marshall, the 'Heels have to take it "one game at a time."
If the 'Heels hope to win the ACC title many things have to go right in the last two games.
With a lot of size in the frontcourt with both Tyler Zeller and John Henson, North Carolina is the number one rebounding team in the nation.
"That's a pretty good combination when it's seven foot and 6'10''," said Maryland head coach Gary Williams following their loss to North Carolina. "And you know, there's some NBA teams who would like to have that size up front."
Henson pulls down 9.3 boards to go along with 7.3 by Zeller. Their contribution has helped the 'Heels become the nations best rebounding team pulling in 42.6 per game. Additionally, North Carolina also pulls in a nations best 28.7 rebounds on the defensive end of the ball.
The 'Heels should take care of business at Florida State and set up a huge matchup against rivals Duke. In the first game against Duke, North Carolina led early due to it's ability to crash the boards and get east points inside.
That is something that North Carolina will certainly utilize as well as their home court advantage. The 'Heels haven't lost a game at home this whole season.
The 'Heels certainly control their own destiny. If North Carolina wants to win another ACC regular season title it's up to the 'Heels to win games.
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