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Heel Tough Blog: Miami Preview

A little over 48 hours after a season-saving win over Clemson, Carolina returns to action to take on a very good Miami team, as their push to make the NCAA Tournament continues. The Tar Heels are coming off arguably their best performance of the season, as they took down then ACC leading Clemson, 91-71. That win snapped a three-game losing streak, and it came after a disappointing loss to Wake Forest, which led to multiple team meetings after the defeat.

Miami entered the season with high hopes, after making the Elite Eight last year, and so far they have lived up to the hype. Miami enters with a 20-6 overall record, and they are 11-4 in the ACC, a 0.5 game out of first place. Jim Larranaga’s squad is a high scoring one, as they average 79.0 points per game, and have four players averaging double figures scoring, led by Isaiah Wong’s 16.2 points. Additionally, Jordan Miller (14.7), Norchad Omier (14.1), and Nijel Pack (12.6), also average double figures scoring. As a team, they shoot 36% from behind the arc, and they have seven players that shoot 35% or better from deep. They have an offensive rating of 114.8, which is 8th best in the country, according to Sports-Reference College Basketball. Lastly, they shoot 49% from the field, as a team, which is 18th in all of college basketball.

Carolina’s win over Clemson Saturday, took them from among the Last Four In, to the Last Four Byes, according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. Carolina was hoping today’s game was going to qualify as a Quad 1 opportunity, and that won’t happen, as Miami woke up this morning 34th in the NET. With other results yesterday, Ohio State is also outside of the top 50 in the NET, which means Carolina’s win over them in Madison Square Garden, is no longer a Quad 1 win, which makes UNC 0-8 in Quad games this season. That makes tonight’s game a Quad 2 game for Carolina, so this is still a great chance for them to improve their NCAA Tournament resume.

This is Carolina’s first Saturday/Monday turnaround, but in recent years we’ve seen Carolina carry over the momentum from a Saturday win to an important Monday game. Even after the win over Clemson, Armando Bacot made it known that Carolina’s back is still against the wall, here’s how they can build off of Saturday:

  1. Win the Race to 80: This game features two of the highest-scoring teams in the ACC, as Miami averages 79.0 points per game, and Carolina averages 78.4. Over the weekend, both teams scored over 90, as UNC scored 91 against Clemson, and Miami dropped 93 on Louisville. This game will feature a lot of possessions, and the Heels need to make the most of them. Against Clemson, Carolina was able to build off their good misses, as opposed to building off of tough makes. That led to a 48% shooting game, including shooting 45% from behind the arc. Shot selection remains a focus, as Miami will play multiple different defenses in this game, as they like to press, play man-to-man, and will even play zone from time to time.

  2. Limit Turnovers: If you’ve watched Miami at any point this season, they have thrived all season long, turning opponents turnovers into points the other way. Believe it or not, during Carolina’s three-game losing streak, turnovers weren’t really the problem. In conjunction with winning the race to 80, a way Carolina can achieve that is to limit their turnovers and keep Miami’s high powered in the half-court. On the flip side, Miami does turn it over, an average of 11.3 times per game, so Carolina needs to be aggressive on defense, to try and force turnovers, to lead to easy baskets in transition.

  3. Rebounding: Just like Clemson, Miami is vulnerable on the glass, as they average 34.6 rebounds as a team. Meanwhile, Carolina averages 39.6 rebounds per game, and that plus-5 margin needs to be displayed later tonight. In the win over Clemson, Carolina won the rebounding margin, 34-31, but during the part of the game that Carolina took control of the game, they were outrebounding Clemson 20-10 at one point. If Carolina is going to win this game, winning the rebounding battle has to be a high point of emphasis.


North Carolina - 32nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 114.4 (32nd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 97.9 (46th)

Miami - 35th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 119.4 (9th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 103.0 (125th)


North Carolina - 40th.

Miami - 32nd.

TV Info: Tonight’s game will tip at 7 PM on ESPN, as part of ESPN’s Big Monday coverage.

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