Shot Clock: North Carolina

Guard Marcus Paige averages 16 points per game for the Tar Heels. - US PRESSWIRE

Maryland and North Carolina meet for the final time as ACC foes in Chapel Hill tonight.

Before tonight's Terps-Tar Heels game in Chapel Hill, we caught up with the Tar Heel Blog's Brian Barbour:

TT: Like Maryland, North Carolina's had a somewhat ugly season so far. Realizing there might be more than one answer: What's gone wrong?

THB: The simple and all-encompassing answer is that P.J. Hairston is in the D-League putting up 40-point games and not playing for UNC. In the context of the team as it stands, the offense does not have enough consistency at times and it gets them in trouble. A lot has been made of a recent surge in effort and intensity. In fact you could argue there was a stretch from the Texas game until the Virginia game where this team looked a little like one whose dog got run over. Two things happened around the time of the Texas game. One was Leslie McDonald coming back, and the other was Hairston's case being fully resolved with him no longer being with the team when they came back from Christmas. This is pure speculation, but it feels like there was a period of real adjustment to McDonald coming back and from an emotional standpoint of Hairston being gone.

TT: Is this ultimately a middling ACC team, or do you expect a charge forward in the standings over the next month? The Heels' schedule doesn't look brutal other than two more games against Duke.

THB: KenPom has them at 10-8 with losses to Duke twice, Pitt and FSU. That sounds perfectly reasonable though the game at NC State will be tough regardless of the records. Assuming UNC takes care of the winnable games then those three games in mid-February will dictate whether they sit in the middle or make a move into that top four.

TT: Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige (averaging 16-4-4 per night) looks like a star. What has keyed his step forward this season?

THB: His confidence is probably the biggest reason. Paige was a scorer in high school and last season showed signs of being the kind of player who could be productive offensively. He took the opportunity afforded to him by Hairston and McDonald's absence to seize the scoring role and it has worked out rather well. The biggest knock is he doesn't seem to put full games together very often. Many times he can be awful in the first half and take a game over in the second. On Saturday versus NC State, he scored 11 in the first half but wasn't as much as an offensive factor in the second half. Now that he is back playing more point guard, he will need to balance his offense and facilitating the team offense.

TT: Conversely, James Michael McAdoo hasn't taken a step forward this season. Do you anticipate him lighting up Maryland the same way he did -- repeatedly -- last year?

THB: After being a bit up and down prior to ACC play, McAdoo has seeming hit his stride averaging 15.4 ppg and shooting 51% from the floor. He is also using his quickness to get to the basket and draw fouls. The downside there is McAdoo continues to shoot poorly at the free throw hitting only 45 percent of his attempts in league play. The free throw shooting is really what stands between McAdoo being just a good player to being a nearly dominant one.

TT: What's your game prediction?

THB: I'll take UNC, 81-71.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Testudo Times

You must be a member of Testudo Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Testudo Times. You should read them.

Join Testudo Times

You must be a member of Testudo Times to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Testudo Times. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9347_tracker