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The Big One! UNC @ PNC

PNC is SOLD OUT! It will be BOOMING! Our eight new players are really going to be surprised! (and they’re going to learn some new words to the fight song)

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at N.C. State
The Battle of the Big Men
Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

When: Wednesday January 10, 8:00 PM ET

Where: PNC

TV: ESPN

Opponent: University of North Carolina Tar Heels (Q1)

Preseason Conference Prediction: 3rd (of 15) in the ACC

Pomeroy Prediction: UNC 79-74

Wolfpack Snapshot: NET 66, 8th in ACC NET rankings, KenPom 64

Wolfpack Season So Far:

11-3 / 3-0 on the season. According to the current NET rankings, this and Duke are our only home games with a chance at a Q1 win. No time like the present to get one.

** ACC Note: Michael O’Connell is currently leading the ACC in Assist / Turnover ratio

Wolfpack Injury Report:

  • Mo Diarra – knee – only played 3 minutes against UVA after playing 12 at Notre Dame. In yesterday’s weekly press conference Coach Keatts said, “... junior forward Mo Diarra has been left out of the rotation because of matchups, at times.” He expects him to play against UNC, particularly when they have two post players on the floor.
  • Ernest Ross – ankle – Coach Keatts said he was playing well in practice until the injury. He was on crutches at Notre Dame, was dressed and participated in the shoot around for UVA.

Opponent Overview

Well, if you are looking for consistency, Coach Hubert Davis’ Tar Heels ain’t it. Year 1 – NCAAT runner up. Year 2 – No thanks, we’ll stay home. Year 3 - Ranked #10 in the NET and playing well.

Their Season So Far:

UNC (11-3/ 3-0) is NET 10, KenPom 8 on the season so far.

They already have 4 solid Q1 wins on the season, Tennessee (NET 5) at home in the ACC/SEC Challenge, Oklahoma (NET 22) in Charlotte (home away from home), and back to back ACC road wins last week against Pitt (NET 53) and Clemson (NET 23).

Their losses were all Q1 games and all on neutral courts. Villanova (NET 34) in the Bahamas, UConn (NET 7) at MSG, and Kentucky (NET 17) in Atlanta.

Common opponents: Tennessee - They beat UT at home by 8, we lost in Texas by 9. Charleston Southern – We beat them by 34, they won by 45.

UNC’s ACC Rankings of Note:

  • 2nd in offense
  • 4th in opponent 3PT FG percentage
  • 1st in FT attempts (surprise!), shooting 76.5%
  • 3rd in Rpg, 10th in opponent Rpg
  • 11th in steals

Examining Their Losses:

  1. Villanova (83-81) – UNC won this game in most of the statistical areas, except one glaring exception (in addition to the final score, of course). Nova MADE 16 more free throws than UNC.
  2. Connecticut (87-76) – The Huskies were the better team in this game. They shot a better FG percentage, took more shots, out rebounded UNC by 10, and had 7 more assists.
  3. Kentucky (87-83) – The Cats’ secret to success was offensive rebounding. They got 18 to UNC’s 6 and ended up taking 15 more FGA.

Unfortunately, no consistent pattern for success to replicate. Based on loooooong historical precedent, I don’t think we can rely on the refs to save us like they did Villanova, so rebounding is critical to our success. No surprise there.

Team Statistical Comparison

Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
Team PPG FG% 3PT% 3PT pg Reb pg Ast pg TO pg ST pg BL pg
NCS 77.8 44.70% 34.00% 7.7 36.7 13.7 8.8 7.8 2.7
UNC 83.6 45.60% 36.20% 7.9 39.7 14.1 10.1 5.9 4.8

Player Notes

  • RJ Davis leads the ACC in scoring and FT percentage. He leads UNC in minutes per game, FGA, FGM, 3PTA, 3PTM, Ppg, assists, TO and is 2nd in steals.
  • Armando Bacot leads the ACC in rebounding. He is averaging a double-double, and leads the team in rebounding, FTA, FTM, and is second in scoring.
  • Harrison Ingram leads the team in steals, is 2nd in rebounds, and is their 3rd leading scorer.

UNC Probable Starters

Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST STL BLK
Player Class Pos Height Weight PPG 3PT% 3PTApg REB ASST STL BLK
Davis SR G 6'0" 180 20.6 39.60% 7.2 3.4 3.6 1 0
Bacot GR C 6'11" 240 14.9 33.30% 0.4 11 1.4 1 1.9
Ryan GR G 6'5" 195 11 28.60% 5.4 3.5 1.5 1 0.5
Ingram JR F 6'7" 225 13.1 42.60% 4.4 6.8 2.6 2 0.6
Cadeau FR G 6'1" 180 6.8 25.00% 1.1 1.6 3.4 0 0.1

Keys to the Game

Not to suggest that there aren’t other very good players on their team – there definitely are (Cadeau was 5*, Ingram - played with O’Connell at Stanford - was 5* coming out of HS), but this is primarily a two-man team. If you look at the UNC’s season highs, there are 13 categories. Davis owns 5 categories, Bacot 5 categories, and they tied in one. Davis and Bacot will be playing in the NBA next season.

You are not going to stop them; you have to make them work as hard as possible. Davis averages 34.1 mins per game, Bacot 29.8 but that mostly reflects sitting him in lopsided wins. Neither leaves the court much. We’re going to have to use our depth and keep fresh bodies on them the entire game. Like Coach Keatts often says, they may get their points but let’s make them take a lot of shots to get them.

For The Wolfpack to Win

More Possessions – We need to win the possessions battle via turnovers and rebounding.

  • Turnovers - UNC commits 10.1 TO per game and forces 11.9. Kentucky forced UNC into 17 TO, Villanova and FSU forced 13. We need to get some easy baskets because their set defense is tough to score on.
  • Rebounding – The Pack is going to have to continue the recent trend of team rebounding. Now would be an ideal time for our ‘rebound magnet’, Mo Diarra, to give us double digit minutes again. Parker matches up well with Ingram (2nd leading rebounder) size wise – hopefully Diarra can alternate with him – or maybe Ross can give us some minutes, and I like Burns and Middlebrooks taking on Bacot. Davis and Ryan rebound well; we need our guards to do the same.

Avoid Fouls – Hopefully we can learn from last season. In Chapel Hill’s loss fouls were 27-16 in their favor, Morsell (5), Burns (4), Joiner (4). In Raleigh’s win, fouls were 18-16, still in their favor (of course), but Burns was the only one with 4 or more fouls.

  • Center - If Burns can resist reaching in (as he does too often) when a guard blows by and splits the minutes with Middlebrooks, so he stays fresh, I think we’ll be okay at center. This could be a signature game for Middlebrooks - IF he can resist fouling.
  • RJ Davis – Taylor will have the primary assignment. Guarding Beekman and Burton in the previous two games was the ideal prep for this challenge. He doesn’t foul out (I don’t count BYU), so that isn’t too great a concern.

Guard the 3PT Shooters – The only volume shooters are Davis (101 attempts), Ingram (61), and Ryan (70). Cadeau is the next closest shooting only 4 of 16 attempts on the season. So it should be obvious who can’t be left alone on the arc. UNC relies on the 3PT shot as much as we do, and in a weird coincidence, have made exactly the same number we have on the season (110).

GO PACK!