Is North Carolina in trouble? What’s wrong in Chapel Hill? These seems to be some of the prevailing thoughts going around after Florida State ripped the number 3 ranked Tar Heels 90-57. There is no question that this was an ugly and embarrassing loss for the Heels, but I’m going put to the game into a little perspective for you.
First let’s give credit to Florida State. In the pre-season most folks had the Seminoles slated to finish in 3rd or 4th place in the ACC. They were even considered a fringe top 25 team nationally. This was a solid squad that had the defending national champions and top 20 ranked Connecticut Huskies on the ropes in an OT loss in November. The Seminoles also had a 20 point loss at Clemson and head scratching loss to Princeton.
FSU was better a team than their 10-6 record; they just hadn’t played like it. Saturday they were nearly flawless. Florida State’s Deividas Dulkys was unconscious scoring 32 points on 8-for-10 3-point shooting. Certainly nobody expected a 33 point shellacking of the Heels, but with ESPN Gameday in town, and the Nole’s reputation for knocking off top ranked teams in Tallahassee would it have surprised anyone back in November if Florida State had got hot and beat North Carolina by 10 or 15 points today? I don’t think so.
As for North Carolina, I wouldn’t even call this their worst loss in the last 13 months. The 20 point loss against at a bad Georgia Tech team last year in Atlanta was worse, and the Heels responded to that game by getting the Elite 8. Are there issues for the Heels? Sure, Harrison Barnes is slumping for one thing. He was 2-12 for 6 points against Miami, and was 5-13 against Florida State.
This team seems to lacking a leader in the vein of a Tyler Hansbrough that willed 2009 North Carolina Tar Heels to the National Title. Barnes is a talented, but un-assuming player on the court. Sometimes you’d just like to see Barnes make the Heels his team, and simply take over. The Heels in general seem like team that lacks focus at times. If a game like this doesn’t re-focus the Tar Heels nothing will, but the Noles themselves are a great example of how quickly a team can recover.
Following the 20 point loss at Clemson that we already mentioned, the Noles won at Virginia Tech, and then came up with today’s inspired effort. Back in 1993, those Tar Heels lost by 26 at Wake Forest, and then got routed by the Duke Blue Devils 81-67 in Durham in back to back games. The North Carolina Tar Heels won the national title that year.