Saturday , Feb , 17 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

First place in ACC up for grabs as Tar Heels battle Eagles

Chestnut Hill, MA (Sports Network) – The top spot in the ACC is up for grabs
in Chestnut Hill this evening, as the fourth-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels
take on the 21st-ranked Boston College Eagles in a crucial league matchup
from the Conte Forum.

The Eagles are currently sitting atop the conference standings at 9-3,
despite dropping a 78-70 decision to Duke on Wednesday. The loss halted a
four-game win streak and opened up the door for the Tar Heels to walk through.

The team was unable to take advantage earlier in the week however, dropping an
overtime affair to Virginia Tech, getting swept by the Hokies in the
process. At 8-3 in conference, North Carolina can leave New England with the
league lead with just a couple of weeks left in the regular season.

Boston College is one of only a few teams with a winning record against the
Tar Heels, holding onto a 3-2 series advantage. Roy Williams has never beaten
BC as a head coach (0-2) and North Carolina hasn’t posted a victory in this
series since the 1975 NCAA Tournament. It was BC that got the win in the last
matchup, an 85-82 decision in last year’s ACC Tournament semifinals.

The usually efficient Tar Heels struggled with their shot, going just 40
percent from the floor, including a dismal .176 from behind the arc (3-of-17)
and it eventually cost the team in an overtime thriller against Virginia Tech.
All-American Tyler Hansbrough did all he could to lead his team to victory,
finishing with 22 points and eight rebounds. Freshmen Wayne Ellington and Ty
Lawson added 14 and 13 points, respectively. The sluggish play by North
Carolina was not expected, especially at home. The team is one of the most
efficient in the country, ranking second nationally in scoring (88.1 ppg) and
fifth in field-goal percentage (.503). Hansbrough is one of the premier
frontcourt players in the country and he leads the talent-rich Tar Heels in
both scoring (18.6 ppg) and rebounding (7.8 rpg). He has received immediate
help in the frontcourt by freshman Brandan Wright (14.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg), who is
shooting a ridiculous .647 from the field. Ellington (12.1 ppg) and Lawson
(10.3 ppg) complete the nation’s best freshmen class.

The BC backcourt did its best, as senior Sean Marshall scored a game-high 22
points, followed by sophomore Tyrese Rice’s 22 points, but the team fell by
eight points to a Duke program with a bit of a chip on its shoulder. Star
forward Jared Dudley struggled in the game, getting off just five shots and
finishing with 11 points. BC shot a solid .525 from the floor overall, but
got outrebounded 31-22 in the game and turned the ball over 19 costly times.
Dudley has been much more explosive on the season, as the 6-7 veteran is
shooting nearly 60 percent from the floor (.593), while averaging a near
double-double with 19.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. Rice and Marshall
also know how to fill up the basket, adding 17.1 and 15.1 ppg, respectively.
One of the better offensive teams in the league, Boston College is averaging
77.2 ppg, on a healthy .487 shooting.