Saturday, February 11, 2012

Sports columnist Aaron McFarling: Tar Heels will come in mad vs. Virginia

This week's Q&A-Mac is brought to you by Virginia Tech and UVa: the ultimate "look-ahead" teams.

Q: What do you mean?

A: Well, you know how it goes. A team sees some big opponent coming up on its schedule and, instead of concentrating on the more immediate foe, the team looks ahead to the opponent it really wants to face, leading to underperformance. Happens all the time in football and basketball.

Q: You seriously want to put Tech and UVa hoops in that category?

A: Nah, not really. But it's crazy how North Carolina has been its angriest against the Hokies and Cavaliers. The Tar Heels arrived in Blacksburg last month fresh off a 33-point pounding at the hands of Florida State. Today the Cavaliers go to Chapel Hill in the wake of Austin Rivers' buzzer-beating shot that stunned UNC on Wednesday. The commonwealth has had some unfortunate timing this year.

Q: Can UVa win this game even though UNC will be up for it?

A: Oh, sure. But given UNC's frontcourt, this is one where you'd really like to have Assane Sene. As it is, this'll come down to whether the Cavs can hit their 3-pointers.

Q: Let's stick with hoops for a second. Next week, Radford hosts Binghamton in something ESPN calls a "BracketBusters" game. With the Highlanders rebuilding and Binghamton sitting at 0-23, exactly whose bracket has the potential be busted by the result of this tussle?

A: I don't have an answer for you.

Q: Well, at least it's on TV, right? That's the cool part of this deal, right? That RU gets to be on TV?

A: No, it's not on TV.

Q: Is "BracketBusters" lame?

A: Yes.

Q: What did you think of those photos of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski dancing with his shirt off after losing the Super Bowl?

A: A little overblown. Season's over, do your thing, get on with your life. But it's a nice reminder of a universal truth: Often, fans get more bummed about the results of these games than the players do.

Q: Bigger drug shocker this week: that Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd admitted to pitching while high on cocaine, or that Alberto Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title for using performance enhancers?

A: Not sure there's a such thing as a "drug shocker" in sports anymore. But if I have to pick one, I'll say Oil Can. Cycling's drug problems know no limits.

Q: Didn't they used to call you "Oil Can" McFarling during your pitching days?

A: Close. They went with something more accurate: "Gas Can" McGee.

Q: McGee?

A: Rolls off the tongue better when you're cursing the name for blowing the lead.

Q: Comment of the week on the blog?

A: Two again. First, from Rick H., on Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz saying that Peyton Manning now has a "noodle arm" (a statement Kravitz has since retracted): "If Peyton's arm is a noodle, Danny Boy will certainly have the meaty spaghetti sauce to slather all over it."

And second, from Original Greg, on Tech basketball running ads that feature the halftime act as prominently as the team: "It's pretty sad if your fans are thinking, 'Should we go to the game this weekend?'

'Well, is the unicycle girl going to be there?'

'No, it's a juggler.'

'Oh, well that might be interesting.'

What's next? Maybe a fire breather for an opening act and free palm readers in the concourse!"

Q: Let me guess: Original Greg's a UNC fan, isn't he?

A: You got it. And this week, he's breathing fire just like the rest of 'em.

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