Part of the joy of college basketball is the annual upsets. Although devastating for one team and amazing for another, upsets always shake things up a bit in the college basketball world.
Wednesday night, Wofford, who was 0-23 against AP Top 25 teams, defeated No. 5 North Carolina 79-75 in Chapel Hill. The Terriers snapped the reigning national champion’s 23-game home winning streak, and put a tough loss on their record to boot.
This makes things a bit more interesting for Ohio State, who faces North Carolina in the CBS Sports Classic on December 23 in New Orleans. Ohio State could either get a fiery and angry UNC team looking to bounce back, or a team that is crumbling apart a bit and has some major issues that have been overlooked.
Even with this loss, there is no question that this is a very good North Carolina team, and the Buckeyes are expecting nothing less than a national champion caliber performance from the Tar Heels. OSU head coach Chris Holtmann is expecting an angry North Carolina team to respond in an attempt to bounce back from the biggest upset in college hoops so far this season.
“You look at a game like what they’re coming off of and we’re well aware that any team that’s coming off a loss, you know you’re going to get the very best of that team in the next game,” Holtmann said. “We know they’re going to be on high alert and really ready to play.”
This is something that we’ve seen from North Carolina already this season. After the Tar Heels’ 64-45 loss to Michigan State in the PK80 Invitational early in the year, they came back and were phenomenal against Michigan. They were up 30 with 10 minutes to go against the Wolverines and won that game 86-71.
Senior forward Jae’Sean Tate knows that one loss does not define a team. He is expecting North Carolina to play like the talented team they are, despite this loss.
“We know that they’re going to be looking to throw their best punch to get back on track after losing at home,” he said. “We’ve got to be prepared for them to be locked in. North Carolina is a great team.”
Wofford played remarkably well in their game against the Tar Heels and did a lot of good things. The Terriers were always one step ahead of UNC. They moved the ball well and made some incredible shots.
Although completely different teams, there is plenty that the Buckeyes can take away from Wednesday’s upset. Ohio State performs a lot better when they move the ball and take the extra pass. This is something they will need to do on Saturday to be successful in this game.
“We’re going to have to move the ball,” Holtmann said. “I think our ability to not turn it over and execute our offense and not feed into their transition with our poor ball handling and our shot selection is going to be really really critical, and if we don’t do that well, it’s going to be a long night for us.”
As we saw with Wofford, it is certainly possible to beat this North Carolina team.
However, now that the loss has happened, there will be no sneaking up on the Tar Heels.
The Buckeyes tip off against North Carolina on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 1:30 PM on CBS.