Catching North Carolina at the right time?

On Saturday, No. 10 Maryland gets a No. 13 Tar Heels squad that has dropped three of its last five contests

March 22, 2012|By Edward Lee

North Carolina is clinging to a spot in the top 15, but the No. 13 Tar Heels (5-3) have dropped three of their last five contests.

The final score of last Friday’s game against Atlantic Coast Conference foe Duke was 13-11, but North Carolina trailed, 9-3, at halftime and 10-3 5 minutes, 46 seconds into the third quarter.

So it would appear that No. 10 Maryland, which visits Chapel Hill, N.C., this Saturday, is getting the Tar Heels at an opportune time. But coach John Tillman pointed out that in 2011, the Terps were riding a four-game winning streak and North Carolina had lost two games before the Tar Heels beat Maryland, 11-6, in College Park.

“If you look at last year when we went into that game, I think they had gone through some ups and downs early in the season, and they took it to us here – and that was after we had come off a couple wins,” Tillman recalled. “So every team’s a little different. They’ve been trying to work some things out and find the right combinations. That’s a very, very talented group – as talented a team from top to bottom that I’ve seen in maybe my 23 years of coaching. So we know it’s just a matter of them getting on track, and they’re very dangerous. They’re good in the goal, they’re good at the X, they have talented offensive players and defensively, they’re very athletic. So we know they’re going to be really good.”

The Terps are looking for their first 2-0 start in the ACC since 2009. With No. 1 Virginia off to an 8-0 start, a win would guarantee that Maryland would not meet the Cavaliers in the ACC Tournament until the final.

“I know for us, the ACC games are always important for the bragging rights and because of the competitive nature of both schools in trying to win the conference,” Tillman said. “It’s another good measuring stick for us, to see where we are and how far we’ve come with our group. We knew we’d be a work in progress early, but I’m very pleased with how our team has worked hard. They’ve bought into their roles and played unselfishly.”

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