North Carolina may be the favorite in their ACC Tournament matchup Friday night against Florida State, but that isn't an excuse for the players not to put in their best effort.
Especially since Seminoles head coach is going to do all he can to rally his troops into upset mode. This is something that the Tar Heels do not want with Selection Sunday just two days away.
Everyone is going to need to be at their best, but a small handful are going to need to be even better.
This means that the plan on offense cannot be to simply let James McAdoo or Reggie Bullock take control—though the latter is critical to a win tonight. UNC has what it takes to go far both in this tournament and the national one, but needs a huge win tonight in order to truly set itself apart from the rest of the pack.
As long as these men are able to perform at their best, the Tar Heels fans should have plenty to cheer about in the coming weeks.
Bullock is indeed one of the star players on the Tar Heels, but that doesn't take away from how important he is in this game. This season, the 6'7" junior averaged 14.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from long range.
The man needs to be in top form against the Seminoles tonight. This is a season series that UNC swept and a potential blowout waiting to happen tonight.
Not only must he be a force from beyond the arc, but Bullock must also be solid on the inside. That means hitting layups and driving the lane to draw a foul whenever the situation calls for it.
So long as he can continue to be a solid scorer for UNC, the Tar Heels should have this game in the bag.
You can't score baskets without getting scoring opportunities.
And a good number of scoring opportunities don't even come to be without the help of a good point guard like Paige to create them.
The freshman doesn't have a lot of size at 6'0", 157 pounds.
And he shot just 33 percent from the field while averaging 7.6 points per game.
However, he does lead UNC with 4.6 assists and tied for third with 1.2 steals per game. In head coach Roy Williams' system, his job is simple: get the ball to the go-to guys and let them take it from there.
Paige still has a lot to learn about limiting his turnovers, having averaged 2.5 per game on the season, but he has still done a good job of building sturdy on-court relationships with his teammates. They're trusting him to get them the ball when necessary.
So it is important that he be fully focused and take care of it from start to finish.
As was mentioned before, James McAdoo and Reggie Bullock cannot carry the scoring load by themselves.
That means Hairston needs to be at the top of his game.
In this season, Hairston has averaged 13.6 points and 4.2 rebounds while shooting 42 percent from the field. He also managed to sink 38 percent of his threes.
Hairston also has good size for a two guard.
At 6'5", 220 pounds, he has averaged 15 points over his last five games. Moreover, he has proven that he is an excellent dunker.
Against FSU, Hairston just needs to mix his game up. Whether he's driving the lane or pulling up for a jumper, if he sees an opportunity to slam one home, he must take it.
A good game from him could give the Tar Heels plenty of momentum towards the ACC semifinals. So it is important that Hairston and the rest of his teammates be on their A-game from start to finish.