Commentary

Tar Heels fall to Boston College

Updated: January 5, 2009, 3:02 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

It was shock city in Chapel Hill on Sunday night.

Who would have ever believed that Boston College, a team that struggled to get wins versus the likes of Iowa, Massachusetts and Providence, could go to Chapel Hill and beat the number one team in America? The Eagles came into the contest with a 12-2 mark, with the only losses coming to a solid Purdue team, and to Rick Majerus' Saint Louis squad.

Many people felt the Tar Heels were invincible, and some even talked about North Carolina running the table a la Indiana and Bob Knight in 1976. My friends, college basketball is a wacky game and you have to show up focused and prepared every day. Sometimes the opponent gets a hot hand, builds up a big lead and it ends up being a stunner like Boston College pulled off.

Tyrese Rice is a veteran player and true leader for Al Skinner's club. He has put up good numbers against the Tar Heels before, including 46 last season. On Sunday night, Rice scored 25 points, dished out eight assists and hit key free throws, going nine-of-10 from the line.

Rakim Sanders came through as well, scoring 22 points, grabbing six rebounds and adding seven steals. Reggie Jackson, not Mr. October but an Eagles' diaper dandy, scored 17 off the bench.

It takes a solid team effort to pull off a win like this. Handling the pressure of the situation is also important, and while North Carolina made a late run, Boston College only turned the ball over 11 times despite being in hostile territory.

Ultimately, a scenario like this is a great wake-up call for a team to refocus. Then again, the Tar Heels have been solid all season, beating every opponent before this one by double figures. Danny Green and Ty Lawson couldn't get their shots to fall, combining to hit just six-of-23, and that won't happen on most nights. There were missed free throws and three-pointers as the Heels tried to claw back but fell just short.

North Carolina had dominated everyone. Boston College was not intimidated and had a big lead at Chestnut Hill last season before the Tar Heels made a remarkable comeback.

Skinner's team has a little swagger and this victory will give them a world of confidence. Skinner has done a superb job with this program during his tenure. He doesn't get the McDonald's All-Americans, but he gets his team to be efficient on both ends of the court.

This has to rank as the best win of his college career. He has had Ws in the big dance, but this is so special because the Tar Heels are loaded and this game took place at the Dean Dome.

It was a great moment for Boston College, a brilliant performance that deserves a big-time salute. Something tells me Carolina will bounce back and go on a major role. This could inspire and motivate the Tar Heels, and I feel for Bobby Cremins as College of Charleston comes into the Dean Dome next. Do you think the former Georgia Tech coach will feel the wrath of the Heels in the next game?

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.

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