This game is the second of three contests against teams ranked in the 100s of the RPI. Coming off a big win on the road at Boston College, UNC now gets Virginia Tech and Wake Forest in Chapel Hill. The Hokies got off to a promising start this season but have since fallen off to the level most expected them to be prior to the season. The notable exception is guard Erick Green who leads the nation in scoring and is shooting nearly 50% from the floor. Stopping Green will be exceptionally tough. In fact, it is fairly safe bet Green is going to get his points making slowing down anyone else on the floor a priority.
UNC will likely be without P.J. Hariston who continues to recover from a concussion he suffered after Dexter Strickland collided with him under the basket Tuesday night. Hairston has not participated in practice since then but according to Roy Williams has been watching and laughing at all his jokes. The Heels do get Leslie McDonald back which is not an even trade-off by any means. McDonald doesn't rebound as well as Hairston nor can he be expected to be as hot shooting the ball as Hairston has been. Still it is better than being down both guards in a game like this.
With Hairston out, Reggie Bullock will need to break out of a mini-slump of sorts he's been in for the past couple of games. Bullock had 10 points versus NC State and only eight against Boston College. He was 4-12 from three in those two games with offensive ratings at 98 and 100. Obviously the Hokie defense will give him plenty of attention meaning a well executed offense will be needed to give him plenty of looks. Aside from James Michael McAdoo and without Hairston, UNC will need someone else to step up. Brice Johnson has been struggling in ACC play despite being 3-4 on Tuesday but could easily get on track against the Hokies. J.P. Tokoto has made contributions with his mid-range jumper and could also be a huge help. While Bullock and McAdoo are capable of carrying the load, it will be interesting to see who else emerges to fill in the gap.
Like versus Boston College, this game is about protecting UNC's RPI for NCAA Tournament purposes. UNC cannot afford to drop any home games making this contest and Wake Forest next week important to set the table for the last half of the league year. UNC has played well at home and this should be no different.
UNC 88 Virginia Tech 71