Heel Tough Blog: NCAA Tournament Round of 32 - Baylor Preview
The Second Round of the NCAA Tournament starts today, as Carolina leads the slate of games, as they take on the defending national champs, the Baylor Bears. UNC advanced to the Round of 32, after routing Marquette 95-63 on Thursday, to earn Hubert Davis his first win in the Big Dance. UNC was powered behind the dynamic duo of Brady Manek, and Caleb Love, as they combined to score 51 points and 11 triples.
Baylor cruised into the Second Round, after taking down Norfolk State on Thursday, as they started their title defense in dominant fashion. While they haven’t been the best team in the country like they were last season, the Bears still have a roster full of great players. LJ Cryer leads the team in scoring at 13.5 points per game, but has only played in 19 games this season, and won’t be available for today’s game. Adam Flagler, and James Akinjo both average 13.3 points to round out the players that average double figures scoring. In addition to not having Cryer, Baylor will also be without Jonathon Tchamwa Tchatchoua, who suffered a knee injury in February, that has sidelined him for the rest of the season. IN his absence, Flo Thamba anchors the team in the interior, averaging 6.4 points, and 5.6 rebounds per game.
Baylor is going to be a challenge, but Carolina has seen opponents on the same level, in Purdue, Tennessee, and Duke during the regular season. This team has been trending in the right direction the last couple of weeks, as they can continue to validate that win at Duke to finish the regular season. Entering the tournament, Carolina was a trendy pick to upset Baylor, and advance to the Sweet 16, here’s how they can do just that:
Perimeter Shot Making: UNC was 13-35 from behind the three-point line in their win on Thursday against Marquette. The 13 made triples were the most in a March Madness game in program history, as Love and Manek combined to make 11 of them. Baylor is a better defensive team, and they will make it harder for Carolina to generate quality looks from the perimeter. With that in mind, the Heels are still going to need to make 8-10 shots from behind the arc, to soften up the defense, and make life easier as a whole on the offense.
Guard Play: In addition to making perimeter shots, Carolina is going to need both Caleb Love and R.J. Davis to play at a high level, to give them a chance to win the game. Even without LJ Cryer, the combo of Flagler and Akinjo is as good as any in all of college basketball. Davis only scored 4 points on Thursday, hopefully, he has a bounce-back performance in him today.
Dominate Inside: Without Jonathon Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Baylor is more suspect on the interior, than before he went down with a season-ending injury. Armando Bacot has continued on with his historic season, as he set the record for most rebounds in a single season in the storied history of the program. Thamba is the only guy Baylor has that can compete with Bacot on the inside, so they need to be aggressive from the onset, and allow Bacot to set the tone, and control the painted area.
UNC in NCAA Tournament: Carolina is now 8-4 as an #8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, as they will seek their third win over a #1 seed, in the second round. They previously accomplished that feat back in 1990, and 2000.
Series History: This will be the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
UNC - 23rd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.8 (21st) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.2 (53rd)
Baylor - 2nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 118.7 (8th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 90.8 (11th)
TV Info: Today’s game will tip at 12:10 on CBS.
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