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Is it Almost Time for Basketball in Chapel Hill?

Sharon Thorsland
October 27, 2017 - 7:24 am
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Well, it's come down to this for Tar Heel fans – wait 'til basketball.

Mercifully it's almost time for hoops to tip off, because this football season has been a disaster.

North Carolina has only won one game.

One.

And last week the Heels were absolutely destroyed by Virginia Tech 59-7 in the Hokies' homecoming game, falling to 1-7 on the season and 0-5 in the ACC.

The good news is, the season is almost over. The bad news is, there are still three games left to be played, starting with Saturday's match-up against #8 Miami. The even worse news is, the Hurricanes are undefeated at 6-0. And yes, it's homecoming in Chapel Hill. Kick-off is set for 12:00 on WBT.

The Hurricanes are having an outstanding season under second year head coach and former Miami quarterback Mark Richt. In spite of losing several starters, including quarterback Brad Kaaya, the Hurricanes haven't missed a beat. QB Malik Rosier has been solid in his first year as a starter, throwing for over 1700 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's a dual threat, rushing for 191 yards and two more scores. Rosier spreads the ball around – four players have over 200 receiving yards, led by Braxton Berrios. He leads the team with 337 yards and five touchdowns. 

The Hurricanes lost top rusher Mark Walton to a season ending ankle injury earlier this month but haven't missed a beat with Travis Horner. The sophomore has rushed for over 400 yards and three touchdowns in four games. Between Horner and Rosier, it could be a long day for UNC's defense, which continues to give up big yards on the ground.

On the other side of the ball, the Hurricanes have one of the best front sevens in college football. Defensive end Joe Jackson anchors the front line along with DT Trent Harris, he has four sacks. Linebacker Shaquille Quarterman is second on the team in tackles, while fellow backer Michael Pickney has 3.5 sacks. Miami's secondary is young but improving every week. Sophomore Malek Young is one of the best cornerbacks in the ACC, leads the team with three interceptions. Safety Jaquan Johnson leads the team in tackles and has a pick. They're an aggressive group, they had four interceptions in last week's win over Syracuse. The Canes have 12 takeaways on the season and rank 5th in the country in turnover margin at +8.

The Tar Heels have too many problems to list, starting with rotating quarterbacks and a porous run defense.  Not to mention 16 players have been lost season ending injuries. So needless to say, the Hurricanes are heavy favorites to beat the Heels. But UNC has actually won two straight over Miami, including last year's victory in Coral Gables. And the Hurricanes haven't exactly been blowing people out, they've won three straight games late in the fourth quarter, two coming on the final drive of the game. And surely UNC can't get blown out two weeks in a row? I'm guessing no, but I still think this game goes to the 'Canes. Basketball season can't get here fast enough!   

 

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