Previewing Boston College

The Tar Heels return to action after a week-long break to face an inconsistent, yet dangerous, Boston College squad. Tip-off Thursday is set for 7 p.m. and will be nationally televised by ESPN.

North Carolina (19-1, 4-1) vs. Boston College (12-6, 3-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
7 p.m., ESPN


"Last year, Tyrese [Rice] sort of backed off a little bit because of Sean Marshall and Jared Dudley. Now, this year, I do really believe that it's his team. I believe he plays like it, acts like it, talks like it [and] walks like it... I think what he's doing this year is even more impressive because the other team's defense is aimed to do a good job on him, and he's still getting 20 [points] a game." – UNC head coach Roy Williams

"[Tyler] Hansbrough's always going to be a handful, regardless of who's playing him. And they've got other matchups that you've got to be concerned with, but he's a workhorse. He's going to work hard. There's no lack of determination on his part, and he's going to keep coming at you for 40 minutes. If you're not mentally and physically prepared for that challenge, he's going to win it. And most nights, he does." – Boston College head coach Al Skinner


Season to Date:
Boston College arrives in Chapel Hill on Thursday night with a 12-6 (3-2 ACC) record. The youthful Eagles have shown their inexperience this season, losing to Massachusetts (83-80) and Robert Morris (57-51) at home, while winning their first three ACC contests. Skinner's 11th squad in Chestnut Hill more than doubled their output in the loss to Robert Morris (51) just five days later in a 112-73 victory over Wake Forest. This team will have to grow up in a hurry, as Boston College also travels to Clemson and No. 3 Duke in the next 10 days.

Point Production:
Junior point guard Tyrese Rice is doing a little bit of everything this season, averaging 20.0 points, 5.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game. The Richmond, Va. native currently ranks among ACC statistical leaders in five categories – scoring (2nd – 20.0 ppg), assists (5th – 5.12 apg), free-throw percentage (3rd – .853), assist-turnover ratio (10th – 1.58) and minutes played per game (1st – 37.94). His numbers have been even more impressive in conference play, with a stat line that reads 22.4 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Rice has played all 200 minutes of the Eagles' ACC play.

Block Party:
Senior center Tyrelle Blair (6.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg) has been the leading force behind Boston College's defensive success through 18 games this season. The Eagles are holding their opponents to 41.9 percent shooting, and lead the league with seven blocked shots per game. The 6-foot-11 Blair leads the league with 77 blocks and 4.28 swats per game, and set an ACC record with 11 blocks in Boston College's win over Maryland (81-78) on Dec. 9.

Youth Movement:
The 2007-08 Boston College roster features two seniors, one junior, five sophomores and five freshmen, with only six returning lettermen — senior John Oates (3.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg), Blair, Rice and sophomores Tyler Roche (5.2 ppg, 2.3 apg), Shamari Spears (11.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Daye Kaba (0.8 ppg, 0.5 rpg). Freshmen Rakim Sanders (12.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and Corey Raji (9.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg) provide production from the rookie class.

Diversity at its Finest:
The Eagles' 13 players come from 12 different states (Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and Texas) and one foreign country (France).

Last Meeting:
The Tar Heels never trailed during their 71-56 victory over Boston College in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Mar. 10, 2007, in Tampa, Fla. Brandan Wright scored 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and North Carolina held the Eagles to 24.1 percent shooting in the first half en route to a 38-23 lead at the break.

Series Meeting:
North Carolina leads the all-time series with Boston College, 4-3. The first three meetings between these two program took place in the NCAA Tournament – the Eagles upended the top-ranked Tar Heels, 75-72, in the second round in 1994 (USAir Arena; Landover, Md.), while UNC's victories came in the 1967 East Regional final (96-80 in College Park, Md.), and in the 1975 East Regional consolation round (110-90 in Providence, R.I.).

Projected Starters:
 4 Tyrese Rice (6-1, 190, Jr.) – 20.0 ppg, 5.1 apg
15 Rakim Sanders (6-5, 225, Fr.) – 12.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg
21 Tyler Roche (6-7, 220, So.) - 5.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg
34 Shamari Spears (6-6, 238, So.) - 11.2 ppg, 7.5 rpg
44 Tyrelle Blair (6-11, 242, Sr.) – 6.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.3 bpg

Key Reserves:
11 Corey Raji (6-5, 210, Fr.) – 9.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg
 5 Biko Paris (6-1, 200, Fr.) – 6.2 ppg, 2.4 apg
32 John Oates (6-10, 255, Sr.) – 3.7 ppg, 3.3 reb

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