Today Carolina's non conference schedule heats up, as they begin competing in the Battle 4 Atlantis. The Heels arrived in Paradise Island owning a 4-0 record, and the nation's 6th ranking in the latest AP poll. They haven't appeared to be one of college basketball's better teams, as they are still maneuvering through multiple injuries and incorporating 9 new players this season. The last time we saw Carolina on the court, they trailed Elon at halftime in the Smith Center, before taking over the game in the second half. They've been led by freshman point guard, who's been as good as advertised on both ends of the floor. His freshman running mate Armando Bacot, has picked up his play posting back to back double doubles, before coming to the Bahamas. Carolina has been plagued by slow starts, as it seems they aren't ready to play when the ball is tipped. That can't happen starting today, if Carolina wants to win this tournament, and compete with a tough non conference schedule moving forward.
There have been some years that the Battle 4 Atlantis has a better tournament field, and this is one of those years. 4 of the top 13 teams in the country will be playing, along with Michigan and Iowa State, both teams figure to play into March next year. With this being a tournament on a holiday week, there won't be individual previews/recaps for the three games in three days. Instead we will take a look at each team individually:
ALABAMA: IS CAROLINA’S FIRST OPPONENT. THEY ENTER WITH A 2-2 RECORD HAVING LOST TO PENN & RHODE ISLAND. PROGRAM IS UNDER FIRST YEAR HEAD NATE OAKS WHO CAME OVER FROM BUFFALO. KIRA LEWIS JR LEADS TEAM IN SCORING AVERAGING 21.5 PPG, ON 52% FROM THE FIELD ( 40% 3 PT SHOOTING ) THE CRIMSON TIDE AVERAGE 20 TURNOVERS A GAME.
MICHIGAN: 4-0 UNDER FIRST YEAR HEAD JUWAN HOWARD. THEY RETURN A HANDFUL OF GUYS THAT BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE. ISAIAH LIVERS LEADS THEM IN SCORING ( 17.2 PPG ) JON TESKE ( 9.8 RPG ) ZAVIER SIMPSON ( 9.0 APG ). EFFICIENT ON OFFENSE AS ALWAYS.
IOWA STATE: CYCLONES PLAY MICHIGAN ( HEELS PLAY WINNER/LOSER) 3-1 ON THE SEASON HAVING LOST TO OREGON STATE. 4 GUYS IN DOUBLE FIGURES LED BY RASIR BOLTON ( 12.5 PPG ). TYRESE HALIBURTON IS AVERAGING A DOUBLE DOUBLE ( 10.8 PPG & 10.2 APG )
GONZAGA: 4-0 RANKED 6TH IN THE COUNTRY. THE BULLDOGS ARE LED BY FILIP PETRUSEV ( 16.6 PPG & 7.8 RPG ) 6 GUYS AVERAGE DOUBLE FIGURES SCORING AS A TEAM GONZAGA SCORES 88.3 PPG.
SOUTHERN MISS: GOLDEN EAGLES BRING A 2-3 RECORD TO THE EVENT. THEY STRUGGLE TO SCORE THE BASKETBALL ONLY HAVING ONE PLAYER IN DOUBLE FIGURES BOBAN JACDONMI ( 16.4 PPG ) ONLY SHOOT 24% FROM 3 AS A TEAM.
SETON HALL: THE BIG EAST CONTENDERS ENTER WITH A 401 RECORD HAVING LOST TO MICHIGAN STATE IN THE GAVITT TIPOFF GAMES. MYLES POWELL LEADS THEM IN SCORING ( 22,6 PPG )
OREGON: THE FAVORITES FROM THE PAC-12 ARE LED BY PEYTON PRITCHARD WHO’S AVERAGING 19.4 PPG & 5.6 APG. THE DUCKS EXCEL ON THE DEFENSIVE END, BUT ARE EFFICIENT ON OFFENSE AS WELL.
Now that we've learned about all the possible opponents Carolina may face over the course off the tournament, it's time to focus on the Heels. The beautiful thing about these events is that it allows you to learn a lot about your team early in the season, and you can guarantee Roy Williams is eager to learn what his team has moving forward. Here are 3 things to watch during the Battle 4 Atlantis:
1. Ready to Play 40 Minutes: Against Elon & Gardner-Webb, Carolina could afford to not be ready to play, and still win the game. That won't be the case among the next three days. If they aren't ready to play when the ball is tipped, they'll find themselves in the losers bracket early in the process. The last time Carolina had a week off they fixed some early season issues, they've had a week off since their last game action, expect them to be ready to go.
2. Second Option on Offense: This offense has shown glimpses of what it can be, and it;s no surprise it's happened when someone other than Cole Anthony putting the ball in the basket. Armando Bacot has picked[ up his scoring the last 2 contests, and will need to continue to do so this tournament. Carolina will also need some production on the perimeter, and help might be on they way as Brandon Robinson should make his season debut.
3. Depth: Or lack thereof. Even if Robinson does make his debut, Carolina is still without 3 players they counted on being a part of the rotation. How does Roy Williams handle playing 3 games in 3 days? How does he handle the foul trouble that;s bound to happen over the course of the tournament? Depth as never been a issue for Carolina for as long as we can remember, but for now it is. If the Heels can fight through this aspect, they'll have a shot to win the Battle 4 Atlantis.
TV Info: All of the games will be televised on the ESPN family of networks.
( Photo courtesy NCAA.com )
Roy's Boys Podcast Preview: <a class="spreaker-player" href="https://www.spreaker.com/episode/20286885" data-resource="episode_id=20286885" data-width="100%" data-height="200px" data-theme="light" data-playlist="false" data-playlist-continuous="false" data-autoplay="false" data-live-autoplay="false" data-chapters-image="true" data-episode-image-position="right" data-hide-logo="false" data-hide-likes="false" data-hide-comments="false" data-hide-sharing="false" data-hide-download="true">Listen to "Ep. 83: Battle 4 Atlantis Preview & Confession Time for Josh" on Spreaker.</a><script async src="https://widget.spreaker.com/widgets.js"></script>