ATLANTA – Roughly a week ago, North Carolina beat Maryland to stay in the race for the regular-season ACC title.
Friday at Philips Arena, the top-seeded Tar Heels will face the eighth-seeded Terps in their first step toward winning the ACC tournament title.
On the line this weekend for the Tar Heels: a possible top seed in the NCAA tournament, the chance to continue gaining momentum by extending their seven-game winning streak.
A few things to watch:
KENDALL MARSHALL’S ASSISTS
Start counting early, because UNC’s sophomore point guard needs only five assists to break former Georgia Tech ballhandler Craig Neal’s ACC season record of 303 (set in 1988). Marshall tied a career high with 16 assists in UNC’s victory at Maryland on Feb. 4, then recorded eight during the rematch last week.
His season-low for assists is 4 – during his team’s 33-point loss at Florida State on Jan. 14 – so the question isn’t whether the record will fall; but who will be on the other end of the pass when it does?
The Tar Heels have not lost the battle on the boards in 13 consecutive league games, the longest streak against ACC foes since the 2007-08 season (when that team won or tied in rebounds in all 16 regular-season games, plus three conference-tournament games).
UNC out-rebounded Maryland by 7 and 1, respectively, during this season’s matchups.
Maryland freshman guard Nick Faust has scored in double figures in six of his past seven games (13.0 ppg), since returning to the starting lineup after the season-ending injury to Pe’Shon Howard.
North Carolina freshman forward James Michael McAdoo, meanwhile, has come on strong of late. He was aggressive, controlled and confident during his 6-point, 4-rebound game off the bench at Duke – a combination the Tar Heels have been waiting for all season.
Follow Robbi Pickeral on Twitter at @bylinerp.