Two of the most perplexing teams in the rankings are in action tonight. The #7 North Carolina Tar Heels can re-assert their presence in the ACC regular season race at home against NC State. Over in the SEC, the #14 Florida Gators face a tricky road test at Ole Miss. Al Dannity looks at what the Gators and UNC need to accomplish in primetime.
Set the tone The first Tobacco road battle of the year is less than two weeks away. Having won at Virginia Tech last Thursday, the Tar Heels could put together a five game winning streak before that home date with Duke. After tonight they have a home game against Georgia Tech and road trips at Maryland and Wake Forest. All of those programs are in rebuilding mode. College Basketball betting fans know tonight’s clash with the Wolfpack is the toughest test UNC will face before the Blue Devils visit the Dean Dome.
NC State enters this game without a quality win and with only one bad loss, at home to the Yellow Jackets. Right now their resume screams of a bubble team. Against quality opponents they have wholly failed to impress. They did nothing to prove worthy of a ticket to the Big Dance in home losses to Indiana and Syracuse or a neutral site defeat to Vanderbilt. The Wolfpack probably won’t win tonight but they need to show they can hang with the big boys. I don’t see it turning out that way as I like the Tar Heels to bring their A game in primetime.
Prove you belong The Gators have yet to get it done on the road against a quality opponent. Tonight they face an Ole Miss team that has turned into a force at home. The Rebels had a miserable run through Christmas and early in the new year. Home wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State in the last two weeks have done wonders for their resume. A third quality win of the season against the Gators would, barring a total collapse, all but assure Ole Miss of a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
It would behove the Gators to ensure the Rebels are still sweating about their Selection Sunday fate after tonight’s clash. Florida’s 2OT loss at Rutgers is the worst defeat on their resume and that’s not a particularly bad loss. The Gators need to start taking care of business clinically on the road. To be a serious contender, crucial to getting a good seeding, Florida needs to play like one. Ole Miss on the road should be a tough game but one a contender wins clearly. That’s the message Billy Donovan must get across tonight. No matter how hard the Rebels play, if the Gators play to their potential they will win with room to spare.
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