ACC PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS PREDICTIONS!

VT blog Gobbler Country and Furrier4Heisman held a preseason conference poll among ACC bloggers and was kind enough to invite my opinion, despite my recent sporadic-ness-ness-ness. (I will save the explanation for another time, but for now I’ll say life got in the way.) Anyway, here were may predictions:

Atlantic Division

1. Florida State

2. NC State

3. Clemson

4. Wake Forest

5. Maryland

6. Boston College

Florida State has the talent, eventually they have to pull it together, right? State is a team on the rise despite the (temporary?) loss of Nate Irving. I sincerely hope he comes back to haunt running backs’ dreams again…just not our backs. Clemson is still talented, but we don’t know how consistent they are. Wake Forest will take a step back on defense, the key to their success the last three years. Boston College is squarely in rebuilding mode after all they’ve lost.

Coastal Division

1. Virginia Tech

2. Georgia Tech

3. North Carolina

4. Miami

5. Virginia

6. Duke

Last year was the time to pounce on the Coastal Division and step up in Virginia Tech’s rebuilding year. That window is now closed, and now anyone who wants to win this division must go through the Hokies. Georgia Tech’s Success will depend on whether their triple option stand the test of a team getting a second look. I actually predicted that North Carolina can finish as well as 10-2, but they have to beat one or both of the Techs on the road in order to win the division; honestly, I don;t think this team is ready. Miami still needs to show consistency to be placed higher than fourth. Virginia lose too many important players from 2008 and Duke is, well, Duke.

Offensive Player of the Year: Darren Evans, Virginia Tech

Partly because he’s very good and partly to be contrarian. How Gobbler Country let me get away with calling him “Darrell Evans” in the email I sent him, I’ll never know.

Defensive Player of the Year: QUANTAVIUS THE MAGNIFICENT, UNC.

I have never been more confident of a prediction in my entire life. Ever.

Rookie of the Year: Josh Adams, UNC.

Not knowing much (read: anything about other rookies in the ACC, I decided to stick to what I know. Judging by the pairty in voting in this category, everyone else voted the same way. I think Jamal Womble will have a bigger impact, but I have a hunch Adams will have better stats.

Thanks again to Gobbler Country for holding this poll.

The Greatest Thing To Come Out of NC State Since The Krispy Kreme Race

Go ahead. Make my day. Just try and see what happens when you drive over 30 miles an hour in THIS work zone muahahahaaaa…

OBEY

This is, quite possibly, the most nighmare inducing thing created by a NC State student in the cloak of night since (insert horrible zoophilia joke here).

It appears to be the work of one Joe Carnavale, a Wolpack junior who posted his work on No Promise of Safety. Of course, this epic statue of modern humanity was taken down less than 24 hours after it was placed in the street, and Carnavale is now being charged with property damage and larceny by Wake County DA Rectum Buzzkill*. But worry not, Carnavale: your sculpture is a testament to creativity and badassedness. I tip my hat no matter what university you attended, and I demand that a replica be made for every roadside construction site in America.

*Rectum Buzzkill is not the actual name of the Wake County District Attorney. But it’s not far off.

UNC vs. NC State Live Blog: Second Half

Carolina finished on a 9-0 run to end the First. Will they continue their momentum in the second half, rather than play the way they played for the first 15 minutes? The end of the lunar eclipse could point to yes. Yes, that’s irrational, but since when is college basketball fandom supposed to be rational?

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8:02 pm: 36-31, UNC. Hansbrough opens the second half with the turnaround baseline jumper.

8:03 pm: 38-33, UNC. Hansbrough gets an easy one inside, but Thompson does a not-so-great job on the defensive end.

8:04 pm: 40-33, UNC. Qiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…

8:04 pm: 40-36, UNC. Another three-pointer for the Pack. This time it’s Costner.

8:07 pm: 42-36, UNC. Ellington draws a foul and hits two free throws.

At this point, the Pack seem to be letting Hansbrough catch the ball in the lane at will.

8:08 pm: 46-38, UNC. Hickson finally gets a nice shot inside, but Hansbrough hits another easy basket in the lane.

8:09 pm: 48-38, UNC. Q hits an outside shot. Believe me, that’s a big deal. Carolina has the game’s first double-digit lead.

8:15 pm: 52-38, UNC. Ellington gets a layup in transition. The Pack are starting to let this game get away from them. In part, that’s because our defense is finally clamping down.

8:17 pm: 56-38, UNC. Uh-oh. This could get ugly. Ginyard gets a dunk inside, and Hansbourgh gets the steal and dunk on the ensuing possession.

8:17 pm: 56-40, UNC. The Pack finally stop the bleeding.

8:19 pm: Ellington is called for the offensive foul.

8:23 pm: 56-41, UNC. Just for the hell of it:

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8:26 pm: 59-42, UNC. Ellington hits another three. He has 16 for the game.

8:27 pm: 59-44, UNC. You know you’re in the country when the big sign below the scorers table reads: “Enjoy North Carolina Peanuts”.

8:28 pm: 63-46, UNC. Carolina’s transition is revving up in the second half. meanwhile, Deon Thompson’s defense is still iffy (perhaps his knee is still not 100%).

8:30 pm: 66-49, UNC. Ellington’s on fire tonight!

8:31 pm: 68-52, UNC. The Wolfpack finally hit a three. If they have anything left in the tank, Sidney Lowe’s team needs to use it now.

8:34 pm: 70-52, UNC. Hansbrough (28 points) finally takes a breather.

8:36 pm: 72-53, UNC. QIUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

8:38 pm: 72-58, UNC. Looking for something nice to say…well, Sidney Lowe really knows how to whistle.

8:39 pm: 75-58, UNC. J.J. Hickson has not been a factor in this game.

8:40 pm: 78-58, UNC. It’s one thing to be up against a better team, but it looks like the Wolfpack have just given up. They just let Ginyard drive and dunk from the top of the key. It was awesome, but it shows that Carolina is putting a lot more effort into this game than their opponent.

8:44 pm: 80-60, UNC. Green with the reverse layup.

8:45 pm: 80-62, UNC. Oh, sure. NOW Hickson makes his presence felt in the paint.

8:47 pm: 82-64, UNC. After that nice little shot that hung on the back iron before falling in, it just occured to me: Carolina has completely shut down Gavin Grant in the second half, after he was the leading scorer for the Pack in the first half.

8:50 pm: 82-67, UNC. Oh God, no. Plese tell me Mike Patrick did not just do that, Tell me he did not just compare Hansbrough to Wojo. I know what you’re trying to say, Mike, but that’s the last comparison we need.

8:52 pm: The game goes final: UNC wins, 84-70. An impressive victory for the Heels, who dominated the second half. Hansbrough delivers another spectacular performance, with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 steals. Ellington has 21 points, and Thomas has 10. Carolina is now 25-2, and will next face Dino Gaudio’s red-hot Wake Forest team in Chapel Hill.

 

UNC vs. NC State Live Blog: First Half

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit scared about this game. The Wolfpack are a dangerous team for three reasons:

1. They need a win tonight to keep any hopes of a tournament bid alive.

2. They want to avenge their embarrassing loss in Chapel Hill, where they scored 13 first half points.

3. It’s an ACC road game, and Ty Lawson is still on the bench.

7:04 pm: 2-2. The Pack draw first blood, but Hansbrough responds.

7:05 pm: UNC fans: Whoooo!!!

NCSU fans: FLOP!!!

7:06 pm: 4-4. Qiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu…

7:07 pm: 6-6. Tyler cannot afford to get pickpocketed on the top of the key like that.

8-6, UNC. Ellington gets his first basket of the game, a tough baseline shot.

7:09 pm: 10-10, NCSU. Just after a wide open layup by Courtney Fells, Ellington ties it at 10.

7:11 pm: No caption necessary…

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7:15 pm: 13-10, NCSU. Gavin Grant beats Green and Ginyard for the basket and the foul. With 12:38 left in the first half, they’ve already matched the 1st half total from the last meeting.

7:17 pm: 13-11, NCSU. Hansbrough comes back into the game to a hearty chorus of boos.

7:21 pm: 15-11, NCSU. Carolina has missed 8 of their last 9 shots. In none of those instances did Tyler touch the ball in the lane.

7:22 pm: 15-15. Q comes back into the game, and Carolina scores two quick baskets to tie the game, including a Ginyard steal and dunk.

7:24 pm: 18-17, NCSU. Gavin Grant his an open three to take the lead.

7:25 pm: 19-18, UNC. Tyler gets muscled out of the piant, is forced to take an off-balance shot…and he still drains it.

7:26 pm: 21-19, NCSU. Javier Gonzalez is left wide open for a three. He’s a 24% three point shooter for the season.

7:27 pm: 21-21. Stepheson gets an easy one inside. This game is shaping up to be exciting one.

7:30 pm: 23-22, NCSU. Hickson is knocked down by hansbrough in the lane, but no foul is called.

7:32 pm: 26-25, NCSU. The bad news: we’re allowing Pack guards to drive the lane almost at will. The good news: Hansbrough and Ellington are a combined 8-10 shooting.

7:33 pm: 31-25, NCSU: Gonzalez can’t miss from outside! This is so rare, you’d think this was some lunar eclipse of something.

Wait…oh. Well, we’re screwed.

7:35 pm: 31-27, NCSU. Deon Thompson with his first bucket of the game.

7:39 pm: 31-28, NCSU. Tyler hits his 220th free throw of the year. That is insane.

7:41 pm: Tyler gets away with a foul, but Ginyard throws the ball away on the other end.

7:42 pm: It’s not a conference basketball game without a few healthy anti-referee chants.

7:44 pm: 31-31. If it wasn’t Tyler, there’s no way I would believe anyone made that shot and the foul.

7:45 pm, Halftime. Ellington hits a open 3-pointer with three seconds left to give Carolina a 34-31 lead at the end of the first half.

Carolina plays well and catches a few breaks for a 9-0 run to end the half. To win in the second half, the Heels need to respect the kick-out pass while preventing easy drives through the lane on defense, and outrebound the Wolfpack on both sides of the court. .

A Chance to Make Fun of Sidney Lowe’s Red Blazer From 100 Feet Above The Court

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There will be no live blog of today’s UNC-NC State game (noon, ESPN) on Tar Heel Mania. The reason? I will be at the Dean Dome. I managed to snag a ticket late this week, and upon reception of said ticket, this was my reaction:

I’ll give a full report of the live experience after the game.

NC State Wrestlers are Friendly

The following picture of Wolfpack wrestler Darrion Caldwell was on the front page of GoPack.com (second story). Context is overrated.

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UNC. vs. NC State Live Blog

As I said before in the preview, This game is important for both teams not only for bragging rights, but to keep bowl hopes alive. This game will likely come down to who plays better defense, who can protect the football, and our team’s ability when T.J. Yates does this:

yates-handoff.jpg

11:57: College Gameday gave their picks for this game. Lee Corso: Boooooooooooo…. Kirk Herbstreit: Yeeeeeaahhhhhhh!!!

12:11 pm: Carolina gets the ball to start the game, and will begin their offense at the 19 yard line.

12:12 pm: Johnny White starts at RB, and gets the handoff on first down. He’s stopped for a 1 yard gain.

12:13 pm: INTERCEPTION! Yates throws a floater into double coverage, and the safety gets an easy pick. Once again, we do exactly what we cannot do to start the game.

12:14 pm: Evans throws a decent screen pass, but NC State faces 3rd and short.

12:15 pm: Evans escapes the pocket, and once again finds the fullback to the left side, and he falls forward for a first down.

12:17 pm: SACK! The Heels put the pressure on Evans, and he’s eventually brought down at the 27 yard line by Durell Mapp.

12:18 pm: Evans completes to Marcus Stone, but it’s well short of a first down. The Wolfpack settle for a field goal. NC State leads, 3-0. Considering the interception, UNC is lucky to only be down three.

12:22 pm: UNC runs it again on first down. Bobby Rome goes nowhere.

12:23 pm: Yates has time, and fires a bullet to Greg Little in the middle for a first down.

12:24 pm: White gets the handoff again. This time he gets a decent 4 yard gain.

On second down, Yates’ quick pass to Richard Quinn is too high.

12:25 pm: Yates hits Pianalto in the flat, but the Wolfpack hit in the open field in what appears to be just short of the first down. Will UNC go for it on fourth down at midfield?

12:26 pm: The Heels decide to punt it away on fourth and short, NC State takes over inside the 15.

12:30 pm: NC State runs two sweeps, and Jamelle Eugene gets two big runs. a completion to Blackman brings the Wolfpack to midfield in just three plays.

12:32 pm: right now, NC State are getting big run plays by running the ball away from the blitz, where UNC is leaving big holes in their defense. Als, UNC, defenders aren;t wrapping up when they tackle.

12:35 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Jamelle Eugene and the NC State offensive line overpower the UNC defense, and Eugene breaks the plane of the end zone. Pending review, NC State has a two-score lead in the first quarter. Once again, the Tar Heels have allowed themselves to get hit in the mouth to start a game. 10-0, NC State.

12:40 pm: A flag on UNC’s kick return, which almost invariably means a holding/block in the back.

12:41 pm: Yates rolls out on the play action, and he finds Hakeem Nicks open down field for a first down.

12:42 pm: White gets into the secondary, but the safety makes a good open field tackle for a four yard gain.

12:43 pm: Yates finds a wide open Brooks Foster on the blitz, and he gets big yardage after the catch before being brought down at the NCSU 34.

12:44 pm: Yates goes deep to Hakeem Nicks, but it’s just out of Hakeem Nicks’ reach. That could have been six.

12:45 pm: Yates overthrows Foster on third down, and UNC face fourth down at the the 35. They try the field goal…and it’s wide left. NC State still leads 10-0, and now they have great field position.

12;47 pm: Wait…I knew that secondary was thin on the depth chart, but Richie Rich is playng DB?

The first quarter ends, the Wolfpack leading 10-0. This position has been all too familiar to us this season.

12:50 pm: Another pass and catch to Marcus Stone off the play action. Evans has hit his lat 10 passes.

12:56 pm: DE Bruce Carter bats down the pass by Evans. One of UNC’s few good defensive plays so far.

12:57 pm: The Wolfpack just plain want it more right now. Once again UNC had a chance to stop the offense, and Eugene overpowers the tacklers for the first down.

12:58 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Jamelle Eugene overpowers another tackler who doesn’t wrap him up, and rumbles in for the score. NC State leads 17-0. What on earth is wrong with this team in the first half this season?

1:02 pm: is Anthony Elzy injured? He’s responsible for two of our three best rushing performances this season, and he has yet to even see the field.

1:03 pm: They try the end around to Brandon Tate, but he’s chased out of bounds before he can make any ground.

1:04 pm: Yates finds Brooks Foster, but he’s well short of the first down, UNC is forced to punt.

1:05 pm: After a few missed tackles, Darell Blackman gets a huge return inside the 30 yard line. Only Charles Brown saves the touchdown.

1:10 pm: INTERCEPTION GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGGO TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!! Daniel Evans thorws it right into the hands of Charles Brown, and he returns it 92 yards the other way to the endzone. NC State leads, 17-7, but UNC gets exactly the big momentum swing they needed. If Evans had completed that ball, it would have been over at 24-0. But now UNC is back in this game.

1:14 pm: Kendric Burney breaks up the pass intended for Blackman.

1:16 pm: UNC breaks up the pass again, forcing a punt. The punt is partially blocked, and the Heels will start at the NCSU 41.

1:17 pm: Greg Little dive for the catch 8 yards out on first down, but Bobby Rome is stuffed toe set up 3rd and 2.

1:18 pm: The Heels get their first third down conversion, a 4 yard gain up the middle.

1:19 pm: Brandon Tate was double covered, but Yates threaded the needle, and Tate almost made the catch in the endzone.

Yates overthorws Foster in the flat again. 3rd and 10, and they at least need some yardage for a possible field goal.

1:20 pm: The Wolfpack put the pressure on, forcing the incomplete pass. Connor Barth kicks the field goal down the middle, and suddenly the game is 17-10, a one score game.

1:25 pm: Evans complete the pass into a crowd of defenders on third down, finding his tight end.

1:26 pm: NC State gets a huge reception, but it’s called back with a holding call.

1:27 pm: Either Jamelle Eugene is one of the strongest runners I’ve seen all season, or the Heels defense are amnesic about wrapping up when they tackle.

1:28 pm: Evans completes another pass for a first down, and the Wolfpack offense seems to be clicking once again.

1:30 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Two play action fakes by the Pack lead to two wide open catches, the last of which is a touchdown catch by Marcus Stone. NC State leads, 24-10.

1:35 pm: Yates finds Johnny White for a first down in field goal range, but the pass is called back with a holding call. In addition, a sack on the next play puts UNC behind the original line of scrimmage to start the drive.

1:37 pm: Yates is sacked again with less than 20 seconds left in the half, and the Heels will be forced to punt. NC State calls a timeout with 13 seconds left, hoping too get a big return before halftime.

1:40 pm: Brown pins the Wolfpack down at the 1 yard line, but there are only 2 seconds left.

1:41 pm: Evans tries a QB sneak to end the half. UNC leads 24-10 at halftime. NC State is dominating this game on offense, as Jamelle Eugene is having a big day against a defense that has been making bad plays at the worst possible time. They’ll need to shut down the Wolfpack on defense and do something on offense to have any hope of coming back. If not for the Charles Brown interception this game would be a blowout.

2:12 pm: UNC’s defense forces a punt on the opening possession, but they can’t do anything with it. Terence Brown’s punt goes 52 yards without a return. The offense has continued to be rather disappointing.

2:16 pm: The Defense get s the Wolfpack to go three and out, putting pressure on Evans the entire possession. After the short punt, UNC will have the ball near midfield, with a chance to make this a one score game again…assuming that the offense can wake up from their slumber at this point.

2:20 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA! The Heels hand the ball off to Bobby Rome, and he throws a deep pass to a wide open Brandon Tate, who waltzes into the end zone. The game is 24-17, and the Heels are very much back in this game with 23 minutes to play. A near perfect time for the Heels to run that trick play, and now the defense of the Pack will be forced to stay honest.

2:23 pm: Eugene drops the pass on second down. The Pack are forced into a third and long.

2:24 pm: SACK! Evans rolls out, but Hilee Taylor chases him down, forcing another 3-and-out. The wind kills the punt, and UNC will start at the UNC 40 with a chance to tie.

2:27 pm: I don’t know, but I’m getting the impression that Brandon Tate isn’t running full speed on his routes. He’s giving full effort, but he’s mistiming the route.

2:28 pm: Yates, what are you doing? You need to get into scoring range, but you dump to your back at the original line of scrimmage on third and long. Either throw it away and keep room for the punt, or go for the first down.

2:29 pm: NC State drops another pass. This time it’s Blackman.

2:31 pm: Evans succumbs to the pressure again, and UNC forces their third consecutive punt.

2:32 pm: UNC comes dangerously close to roughing the kicker, but UNC gets the ball back.

2:33 pm: Two nice plays to start the drive. First, Pianalto is wide open for a first down on the flat, and Elzy gets his first carry of the game, an 8 yard gain.

2:34 pm: Bobby Rome drops the low pass on third and short, but Butch Davis decides to go for it.

2:35 pm: They run the same play, and this time Rome makes the catch for the first down.

2:36 pm: Hakeem Nicks falls down just before the throw gets to him.

2:37 pm: Yates scrambles, and he find Pianalto to the right side again. First down, Carolina at the 11.

2:38 pm: OH! Yates makes another great throw, and Nicks makes the catch, but couldn’t hang onto it long enough for the touchdown.

2:41 pm: UNC tries the short pass to Nicks, but he goes nowhere. NC State leads, 24-17, at the end of the third quarter, and Connor Barth will try the field goal to start the fourth. The defense tightened up when they had to, and UNC’s offense has finally arrived to the game.

2:44 pm: The field goal is good. The game is now 24-20.

2:47 pm: Bowens gets a huge return, but a dumb block in the back brings the ball back inside their own 5 yard line.

2:50 pm: Evans comes under pressure, and Burney’s good coverage prevents a big gain.

2:51 pm: Evans rolls out on third down, and he finds Bowens, who fights for the first down and gets past the marker.

2:52 pm: The defense simply cannot allow Jamelle Eugene to take over this game again.

2:53 pm: The defensive line for Carolina is simply getting dominated on this possession.

2:54 pm: Evans works the play action again, and he finds Marcus Stone in a gap in the defense.

2:56 pm: INTERCEPTION GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO TOUCHDOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNN!!!! UNC DOES IT AGAIN! The screen pass is tipped by Mapp, Kendric Burney catches it, and he returns it all the way for the score! UNC takes the 27-24 lead! What a turn of events! The defense comes up huge with two interceptions returned for touchdowns today.

3:01 pm: SACK! Evans tries to pump fake. Kentwan Balmer doesn’t buy it.

3:04 pm: SACK! Hilee Taylor chases him down again, this time getting his 10th sack of the season and forcing another UNC punt. The Tar Heels are now in unfamiliar territory: in the fourth quarter, with a slim lead. Let’s see what they do.

3:06 pm: Johnny White gets a huge gain on the screen, but it turns out that a block in the back sprung it. The play is negated.

3:08 pm: Little gets a pass in the flat, but he only gets a short gain. 3rd and long.

3:09 pm: NOOOOOOO!!! Kyle Jolly gets beat on Yates’ blind side, the ball is jarred out of his hands and into the hands of a defensive lineman. Once again, the Heels turn the ball over at the worst possible moment. But don’t blame Yates for that; credit the defensive end for his relentless pursuit.

3:11 pm: NC State gets a first down in the red zone, and they have 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

3:12 pm: Quan Sturdivant is caught offside, and suddenly the Wolfpack are inside the 6 yard line.

3:13 pm: Eugene makes a great cut for a first down, and is brought down within two feet of the end zone.

3:16 pm: Eugene is stopped on first down, a sure touchdown pass is defelcted on second down, and Eugene appears to be stopped on third down, but UNC is caught offsides again.

3:17 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Eugene goes to the outside, and he scores easily. NC State takes a 31-27 lead with 1:41 to play. North Carolina now need to drive the length of the field to win this game, something they haven’t done all day.

3:19 pm: Tate retunrs the ball to the 37. The tar Heels must cross 63 yards in 94 seconds.

3:21 pm: First two passes are incompletions. 3rd and 10.

3;22 pm: The pass intended for Nicks is deflected. It all comes down to one play.

3:23 pm: And it;s Nicks who’s open in the middle! First down. On the next play, Foster catches the ball before being dragged out of bounds. 49 second left, inside the 40.

3:24 pm: Little is tackled short of the first down. With 41 second left, UNC takes their second timeout. The Heels face 3rd and short.

3:25 pm: Yates finds Pianalto for the first down with 32 seconds left.

Foster nearly makes the catch on first down. 27 seconds left.

3:26 pm: It’s Tate! Who catches it at the nine with 20 second left. They take their final timeout. Now we cannot afford a sack.

3:28 pm: Yates throws it out of the endzone. 14 seconds left.

3;28 pm: Incomplete pass, intended for Foster. Third down.

3:29 pm: Nicks was interfered with, but it’s fourth down.

3:30 pm: A fade route to Nicks, but it’s incomplete. And NC State will hang on to win, 31-27. A valiant effort on the part of the Tar Heels, but once again, a turnover at the worst possible time is what costs UNC the game. With the result of this game, NC State has won 4 straight, and North Carolina has been eliminated from bowl contention. I’m still proud of this team, and this was a fantastic game. But that’s exactly why this loss hurts.

UNC vs. NC State Preview

It’s that time of year again…time to make young Wolfpack fans cry.

It would always be great for us to beat the Wolfpack (4-5), UNC’s biggest football rival (as Duke continues to reject football as a sport), but above all this game is about keeping the Tar Heels’ (3-6) slim bowl hopes alive. It won’t be easy as the Heels search for their first road win against a suddenly hot Wolfpack team, who after a terrible start have won their last three games to return to the bowl bid discussion. (Although, it’s worth mentioning that Duke is the only ACC team that has been eliminated from bowl eligibility.) This game will go a long way to determining who will represent the ACC in either a bowl in an earthquake zone sponsored by a snack or a New Year’s eve game in Boise.

The key to this game will be turnovers. That may sound like such a simple concept, as there has been a direct correlation between lack of turnovers and wins for both teams:

UNC’s TO margin in their 3 wins: +2

UNC’s TO margin in their 6 losses: -11

NC State’s TO margin in their 4 wins: +6

NC State’s TO margin in their 5 losses: -17

So, this game could very easily come down to an ill-timed turnover. Hmmmm…

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Yes, Pack fans. I am aware of the strong possibility that TA McClendon crossed the goalline on the previous play. However, that doesn’t diminish his inability to secure the football in the picture you see above. (Photo courtesy Andrew Synoweiz) 

Or, it could be far more complex.

Offensively, these teams are almost evenly matched. Both the Tar Heels’ and the Wolfpacks’ passing attacks rank in the top half nationally in yards per game; however, T.J. Yates, Daniel Evans and Harrison Beck have combined to throw 30 interceptions in 18 total games. It’s important for both teams to have an efficient passing game. For the Heels, this means that Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate, Brooks Foster and Greg Little must get good yardage after the catch and take the pressure off of T. J. Yates to make bad throws. For the Wolfpack, this just means that Beck (2 TDs, 9 INTs) cannot step onto the field. Without good passing the game could get ugly for one or both of these teams, whose rushing attacks are among of the nation’s worst (107th and 110th, respectively). UNC has yet to have a 100 yard rusher, or even a a back who has rushed for 75 yards more than once. So the difference could be which team can run the football well. Or more specifically, which defense allows their opponent to have a good day on the ground.

Speaking of which, defense could be where the Tar Heels have an advantage today. UNC ranks 28th in the nation in total defense; NC State, just 71st overall, and 100th in run defense. However, the Wolfpack have an upper hand in passing efficiency defense, ranking 18th overall to 68th for the Heels. It thus becomes vitally important for Carolina to have a good running game today.

Butch Davis is still looking for his first road victory as the head coach at UNC, and the Wolfpack will give their best effort of the season in order to beat their hated neighbors from Chapel Hill and keep their bowl hopes alive. Still, I’m confident about our chances on Saturday. Unless, of course, Tom O’Brien struts the sidelines with a pencil mustache and an oversized red blazer. In which case, we’re doomed.

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UNC vs. JMU: What They Didn’t Want You To Know

It’s far too easy to look at a box score. Sure, last Saturday’s box score says that UNC dominated their game against a 1-AA opponent (a 37-14 win). But there was so much more to that game than the statistics, or even what we saw on the field. To see what factors truly belie each game, each team, and each season, one must look beyond the playing field, into the “facts”* that “they”** don’t want you to know. Take these “facts” from UNC’s season opener, for example:

  • John Shoop’s offense scored more points in this game than during his entire tenure as coordinator for the Oakland Raiders. Seriously.***
  • Instead of chemotherapy, Butch Davis has been intravenously given extra strength Red Bull since training camp began, unbeknown to even Davis himself. His resulting fits of rage have made the Tar Heels play better ever since, as players now fear making a big mistake and drawing his “therapy-induced” ire.
  • Coach Davis’ plan to boost UNC’s athletic budget by nearly 50% by charging $3.50 per bottle of Dasani at Kenan Stadium is working almost perfectly after game 1. He will use the money to bling out the locker room, making potential recruits think that “Chapel Hill is the shiznit.”
  • Speaking of Kenan Stadium, it looked very impressive on Saturday when all 60,00 seats were full. But the reality is that the crowd composed of 30,000 fans and their evil parallel universe selves, brought to Chapel Hill via a wormhole in the campus Physics lab. What, you think our $2 billion endowment goes to curing cancer? Pffffft.
  • Defensive tackle Marvin Austin put on the Freshman 15 during the pregame lunch. Once he’s on the field, his speed off the snap is the result of, um, shall we say, “gas propulsion”.

austin-farted.jpg

“Heh heh, all y’all gon’ smell dat.”

  • Our defensive coordinator was chosen because he knows the secret to removing the bizarre and previously unknown chemical that magically repelled footballs from the hands of wide receivers and defensive backs during the John Bunting era.
  • The main reason that quarterbacks Cam Sexton and Joe Dailey threw so many interceptions in 2006, especially in the red zone, is because they were constantly distracted by the Carolina girls in the stands. T.J. Yates has no such problem. No, he’s a chubby chaser.
  • In a related story, Cam Sexton is expected to start when the Tar Heels travel to Raleigh to play N.C. State.
  • In another related story, after a case of mistaken identity, Marvin Austin refuses to use the showers in the Kenan Stadium locker room ever again.
  • You might believe that James Madison was an inferior opponent, and UNC fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. What you don’t know is that aliens secretly replaced the Dukes with the 2004 USC Trojans, considered to be one of the great all-time teams in college football. We went on to beat them 37-14. By circular reasoning, after only one game under coach Davis, the 2007 Tar Heels are already the greatest college football team in the history of the world. Ever.

So there’s a lot more to be taken from this game than just the stats. You just need to know where to look.

——————–

*None of these “facts” have been proved. But hey, they haven’t been disproved, either.

**I don’t know who “they” are, but they’re there, all right.

***Insanely, this one is true. In 6 games as the offensive coordinator for Oakland in 2006, the Raiders scored 35 points. The Tar Heels scored 37 on Saturday.

2007 ACC Championship Live Blog: UNC vs. NC State

Today North Carolina plays NC State for the ACC Tournament Championship in the final game of my attempt to live blog the entire ACC Tournament. A win for that Wolfpack would mean an NCAA berth, while a win for the Tar Heels would almost assure them of a #1 seed. We could discuss about NC State’s plan to slow down the game, how UNC needs to have the killer instinct, win the rebounding battle and not turn the ball over. We could talk about how NC State’s subs need to play out of their minds if Atsur and Costner can’t play to the level they’ve been playing this week, and how they they need to shoot above 60%.

But you and I both know that the deciding factors of the game won’t be the players, or even the coaching gameplans. It will come down to the intangibles. Accessories to be exact. If Hansbrough’s mask continues to compromise his play, Brandan Wright will need to have a great game inside, both offensively and defensively. And I heard that Sidney Lowe’s suit was dry cleaned. Don’t you know that dry cleaning robe the suit of its voodoo? Or does it? The answer to that question will determine whether they’ll keep it close.

I heard that Lawson felt something wrong with him today in warmups. The voodoo may still work yet. If NC State wins, that suit will become legendary.

1:06 pm: 3-2, NCSU. Hansbrough draws first blood, but Fells hits a three off a great pass from Atsur.

1:07 pm: 4-3, UNC. Wha? Can it be? It is! IT’S A MIRACLE! BRANDAN WRIGHT HITS BOTH OF HIS FREE THROWS!

Of course, dunks are much easier for him. 6-3, UNC.

1:09 pm: 6-6. Fells hits another three to tie the game.

1:10 pm: 8-6, UNC. WAYNE’S WORLD! WAYNE’S WORLD! PARTY TIME! EXCELLENT! WHOOOOOO!!!

So far the game is clearly going at UNC’s pace. Even if NC Stats keeps it close, they’ll need to bring the pace down to a halt, or else they’ll run out of gas.

1:11 pm: 9-8, NCSU. Brandon Costner hits a three as Brandan Wright fails to follow him to the perimeter. He’s every bit as talented as Wright.

The Wolfpack are now 3 for 4 from beyond the arc. My worst nightmare for this team, poor perimeter defense, may finally be realized today.

1:14 pm: TAR! HEELS TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS!…

1:15 pm: 10-9, UNC. Danny Green comes in for Terry, and he hits a jumper from the free throw line to give UNC the lead.

1:16 pm: 12-11, UNC. Costner hits a tough basket, but Lawson goes coast to coast for a layup seven seconds later.

1:17 pm: 16-12, NCSU. NC State is now 4-for-6 from 3-point range. McCauley then drives in for an easy basket.

I’m really concerned about the Tar Heels. They’ve abandoned the paint, taking low percentage outside shots.

1:18 pm: 18-12, NCSU. Costner gets the basket and the foul. But he misses the free throw.

1:19 pm: 18-15, NCSU. Terry hits a three, but I still think the Heels should keep attacking the middle. They can’t be effective if they’re chucking up shots from the perimeter without even looking inside. They need to pass more.

1:22 pm: 18-17, NCSU. Nearly midway into the first half. Ginyard’s free throws cut the lead to 1.

1:24 pm: 21-17, NCSU. The Wolfpack are much better able to slow down the game with Frasor at point guard. I know he’s been hurt, but he’s been really ineffective this season.

1:25 pm: 21-21. The Heels are able to get two quick baskets in transition, the latest off a turnover by Atsur. The trap defense UNc has been running since the last TV timeout seems to be affecting him.

1:27 pm: 23-21, UNC. UNC forces another turnover, and and get another easy layup to take the lead.

1:28 pm: 25-23, UNC. Costner gets a tough basket inside, but Thompson gets an easy layup less than five seconds later. If they’re able to play at this level for 30-40 minutes, there isn’t anyone who can beat them.

1:32 pm: 27-25, UNC. The Wolfpack defense still doesn’t have an answer for Brandan Wright.

1:35 pm: 30-27, UNC. Atsur hits another three to take the lead back, and MCauley hits an easy one inside to bring the lead to three, as UNC is again chucking shots from outside.

1:37 pm: 32-30, UNC. Ellington hits another three to tie, and Wright gets a dunk off another great feed inside by Lawson. Wright now has 12. Four minutes left in the first half.

1:38 pm: 32-32. McCauley ties the game again, as the UNC defense doesn’t seem to have an answer for him either.

UNC has 5 turnovers in this game, and most of them are unforced. I am really starting to get tired this team mentally fazing in and out of games. This team is capable of so much better than they’re playing.

1:42 pm: 34-32, UNC. Danny Green hits another shot in the lane, but NC State is still very much able to slow down the pace of the game when Frasor is at point guard.

1:43 pm: 40-32, UNC. I spoke too soon. Wes Miller hits two straight three in transition to extend the lead to 8. The Wolfpack must think it’s unfair that the guy to help the Heels breakaway is their 11th man.

1:46 pm: Brandan Wright scores easily again to cap UNC’s 15-4 run to end the first half. UNC leads, 42-34 at halftime. It looks like the Wolfpack are finally running on fumes at the end of the half, but UNC has kept them in the game in part because of their unforced errors. Still, the Heels are in very good position to win the game if they continue to attack the rim and keep a fast pace of the game. If they do that, eventually NC State will reach their breaking point. For NC State tp win, they’ll need to show a second wind, Atsur will need to be able to slow the game pace down to a screeching halt, and they will need to force UNC into mental mistakes.

Then again, maybe Sidney Lowe should have thought of that before getting his suit dry cleaned.

2:06 pm: 46-34, UNC. The second half begins. Lawson hits two free throws to bring the lead to double digits, and Ellington steals the ball and gets an easy layup in transition. The Wolfpack can’t afford to get far behind.

2:07 pm: 50-36, UNC. Lawson hits his first two shots of the game a long jumper and a great reverse layup. The UNC guards are playing really well to start the second half. NC State seems flat-footed so far.

2:11 pm: 50-38, UNC. Gavin Grant provides the Wolfpack their first field goal of the second half, three minutes in.

2;12 pm: 52-40, UNC. NC State forces a turnover, and McCauley gets a tough basket inside to bring the lead to 10, but Ellington drives inside for a floater almost immediately after. They can’t afford to let the Tar Heels continue at this fast pace.

2:16 pm: 54-40, UNC. Deon Thompson scores for the Tar Heels.

McCauley gets poked in the eye. If you;re keeping track, that’s three NC State players who are playing injured (Atsur, Costner).

UPDATE: Northwestern La. State University is trying to get back into the tourney. But Texas A&M, Corpus Christi, and their ridiculously bad color combination, are leading 11-5. NW St. isn;t the same without that guy with the crazy afro.

2:19 pm: 56-43, UNC. Costner hits a three, but with 13 minutes left the Pack are looking really tired. They’ll be zombies by the end of the game, win or lose.

2:22 pm: 56-47, UNC. Suddenly, the lead is back to single digits. and Roy does the worst possible thing for effective strategy against a tired team: he puts in the conservative Bobby Frasor at point guard. Right now the Heels need to run the Pack into the ground, and Bobby Frasor wonlt be able to do that. If Lawson was headed to the bench, I would out Quentin Thomas at point guard. Maybe Roy thought Q would make a few unforced errors to help bring NC State back, but I think leaving the Wolfpack completely out of gas is most important at this point.

2:27 pm: 58-48, UNC. Brandan Wright comes back off the bench, and he immediately ends the Heels’ drought to bring the lead back to 10.

2:29 pm: 64-52, UNC. NC State is getting by on offensive rebounds, but Hansbrough finally gets a basket inside and the foul to bring the lead to 12.

2:31 pm: 64-56, UNC. The Heels’ unforced errors continue to keep NC State in this game, as Costner takes advantage off of a Frasor turnover. Eight and a half minutes to go.

2:33 pm: 66-58, UNC. The Heels finally bring Lawson back into the game.

2:35 pm: Even if we win today, we may not get the #1 seed, because the Selection Committee is going to see that we clearly allowed inferior opponents stay within striking distance of winning a game because of our mistakes or because of simply not having our heads in the game. Therefore they’re going to give us a tough road to the championship, almost to say, “You think you’re the best? Then best the best…5 times.”

Believe it or not, I’m more afraid of an inferior opponent than a top opponent, simply because of our mental state. 68-60, UNC, 7 minutes left.

2:40 pm: 68-62, UNC, 6:30 left. Is it possible for someone to dunk off the backboard? Because I think Courtney Fells just did that.

2:41 pm: 68-65, UNC, 6:00 left. UNC shoots another low percentage outside shot, NC State rebounds, and Gavin Grant gets the tough jumper in the lane AND the foul. The lead has been cut to three.

2:42 pm: 70-67, UNC, 5:30 left. The only reason UNC is still leading is because Hansbrough is 9 of 9 from the free throw line. He travels, and now the Wolfpack have a chance to tie.

2:43 pm: 75-69, UNC, 4:25 left. Fells scores again to cut the lead to one, but suddenly and unexpectedly, Rayshwan Terry comes out of whatever slumber he’s been in for the first 35 minutes and hits two tough shots, the first a baseline jumper and the second a driving layup inside and the foul. It’s good to have you back, Rayshawn, but where the hell have you been?!?

2:46 pm: 75-72, UNC, 4:00 left. Gran t misses his second free throw, but UNC fails to box out, and McCauley gets an easy basket to cut the lead to 3.

Roy, that blazer doesn’t have any mojo. It’s only blue-ish.

2:51 pm: 78-75, UNC, 3:15 left. Terry hits a three, but Costner drives inside, gets the basket, and gives Hansbrough his fourth foul. I cannot point to any good reason why the Wolfpack still have this much energy.

2:53 pm: 1:56 left. Suddenly Wright is missing point blank shots. This must be Sidney’s voodoo.

2:55 pm: 1:28 left. A sign in the stands said: “Beating Carolina: So Easy, A Caveman Can Do It.” Unfortunately, I might not disagree. Assuming that caveman is an experienced, cunning and athletic point guard.

2:56 pm: 80-75, UNC, 1:10 left. Ellington hits his free throws, and Ginyard comes in for defense.

2:58 pm: 82-75, UNC, :50 left. One of the things UNC has done extremely well: they haven’t missed a free throw shot yet.

2:59 pm: 82-78, UNC, :42 left. Costner converts the old-fashioned three, but is it too little, too late?

3:02 pm: 84-78, UNC, :42 left. TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR! HEELS! TAR!…

3:03 pm: 84-80, UNC, :31 left. McCauley hits a quick shot, and the Wolfpack are back within 4. UNC burns a timeout because they can;t inbound it.

3:04 pm: 85-80, UNC, :15 left. Lawson misses his first free throw, but makes the second. McCauley misses his hot, UNC rebound, Terry is fould and this game is bout over if he can make his free throws.

3:06 pm: Terry makes his free throws, NC State misses their shot, and Lawson finishes the game with a dunk. UNC wins the ACC Tournament, 89-80, over NC State! YES! YES! YEEEAAAHHHH!!! UNC WINS THE ACC CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

You have to give a lot of credit to the NC State Wolfpack. They played out of their minds today. I don’t know how they kept their energy level throughout the game. Brandon Costner is certainly the Tournament’s most outstanding player. UNC did not play their best game, but they did enough down the stretch to win. In particular, Rayshawn Terry came up big late in the game, being the focal point of their offense and shutting down Gavin Grant on defense. Tyler Hansbrough scored 15 points in spite of only two made field goals,  as he made all 11 of his free throws.

Again, I must emphasize the this Tar Heel team struggles when they don’t have the mental focus, but when they do, there may not be a better or deeper team in the country. The Tar Heels did just enough to win today, and now they can enjoy being the ACC champions.  Now we’ll see later today what kind of draw they’ll get in the tournament.

And so ends the ACC Tournament. I had a lot of fun covering the whole event, and I’m definitely going to do it again next year. Again, many thanks to the Extrapolater for his help. I leave you with a new phrase that Cliff Ellis has for a three point shot: “From the Bonusphere.” He’s my new favorite analyst.