Carolina didn’t finish the 2020 calendar year in great fashion, losing at Georgia Tech, but they started off 2021 with an important 66-65 home win over Notre Dame on Saturday. The win over the Fighting Irish gives the Tar Heels a chance to jump start their season, something they failed to do after beating Kentucky back in December. If they’re looking to earn back to back wins, they’ll have to do it on the road, something they’ve failed to do in ACC play so far.
Miami enters the game with a mediocre 4-4 record on the season. An ankle injury to Chris Lykes has really dampened their season, as the senior guard was averaging 15.5 points before injury. They currently sit at 0-3 in the ACC, add in a loss to Florida Gulf Coast, and you’d like to think this is a good matchup for Carolina. Then again, Carolina lost to Georgia Tech, who lost at home to Georgia State and Mercer. Isaiah Wong has stepped up for the Hurricanes, as he’s their leading scorer at 17.9 points per game. Overall Miami puts just 3 players in double figures scoring wise, and one of those is Lykes, who hasn’t played since early December. They struggle shooting the basketball, as they only shoot 44% from the field, including just 28% from behind the three point line.
This is a good matchup for Carolina, as they are looking to build some momentum in ACC play. Miami will most likely be without their best player, and their average height on the roster is just 6-6. But a lot like the two teams that have beaten the Tar Heels in conference play so far, Miami has some veteran guys that know how to win these types of games. Here’s what it’ll take to get that first road win in the ACC:
Dominate the Paint: As mentioned above, Miami’s average height is just 6-6, and only 2 players that are 6-10 or taller see the court. Like against the Fighting Irish, expect a heavy dose of post play, as Day’Ron Sharpe has emerged since entering the starting lineup. Armando Bacot will be seeking a bounce back performance after shooting just 1-7 against Notre Dame on Saturday. The matchup with the smaller Hurricanes, allows for senior Garrison Brooks to get into a rhythm, as the ACC Pre-Season Player of the Year has been moved to a reserve role.
Limit the Turnovers: After committing 4 early turnovers against Notre Dame, Carolina only turned it over 4 times to finish the game with a season best 8 turnovers. Miami is known for their defensive pressure on the basketball, but can also execute various different forms of defense that can confuse a young team like Carolina is. If Carolina can limit the mistakes, they’ll see good results.
Contain the Dribble: With or without Lykes, Miami is going to try to penetrate the Tar Heels defense off the bounce. Carolina has had their share of issues guarding the basketball this season, but took a step in the right direction in the win over Notre Dame. if they can make the Hurricanes work for their shots, they should take another step into becoming a better defensive team.
Series History: Like most ACC teams, Carolina has a good mark against the Hurricanes, owning a 25-8 mark against them. They are 9-3 overall at Miami, having won 85-76 in 2019. The last time these teams met, Carolina thrashed them, 94-71 in a win that moved Roy Williams past Dean Smith on the all-time wins list.
UNC - 32nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.1 (54th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.0 (19th)
Miami - 65th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.5 (97th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 93.6 (47th)
TV Info: The matchup with the Hurricanes will tip off at 8 pm on ESPN.
Roy's Boys Podcast: