Todd Melet - Chapelboro.com
Carolina hits the road for their final Saturday-Monday turnaround, as they’ll travel to South Bend and take on Notre Dame. On Saturday Carolina responded after a disgusting effort at Wake Forest earlier in the week, to play the Cavaliers to a close game. Christina Keeling connected on 3 free throws to give the Tar Heels a 1 point lead with a little over 10 second remaining. Tomas Woldetensae hit his third three pointer of the night, with under 1 second left, and Carolina was heartbroken once more. That loss dropped Carolina to 10-15, easily the worst mark under Roy Williams.
Notre Dame is a lot like Virginia, as in they are playing for their tournament lives. At 15-10 ( 6-8 ), they aren’t in the field of 68, a loss to this North Carolina team won’t help their case. John Mooney is the most underrated big man, not only in the ACC but possibly in all of college basketball. Mooney is a walking double-double, who averages 16 points, and he hauls in over 12 rebounds. A season ago, the Fighting Irish were ravaged by injury, a lot like this Tar Heel team, but it allowed the younger players to gain experience. There is still a lot of experience on Mike Brey’s team, TJ Gibbs is the second leading scorer on this team, and is a great ball handler, in addition to being an exceptional 3 point shooter, and is almost automatic from the foul line. Prentiss Hubb also averages double figures scoring, and is the leading assist man for Notre Dame.
Even in the years where Carolina is among the nations best teams, Notre Dame always plays Carolina tough. These teams met to open the season back in November, and we saw a glimpse of the player Cole Anthony and this team could be. Neither team is anywhere near the same that they were on that day, but this game has a lot on the line for the home team. It’ll be hard for Carolina to get up once again and compete at the highest level, but that’s what is required in this conference. 3 keys to earning the first since Cole Anthony returned:
1. Ready to Compete: After another heartbreaking loss, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this team not ready to play emotionally. So many of these kinds of losses take a toll on the mental part of the game. Regardless they’ll need to find a way to put that loss behind them, and be ready to play in a hostile environment. If not, they can be run out of the gym before halftime.
2. Containing Mooney: This will be a tall task, because Mooney is a stud. He has given Carolina fits in his time on campus. Garrison Brooks has battled many injuries to his eyes, which has affected his play as of late. Armando Bacot had a monster game against UVA, but has struggled with consistency like most freshmen do. The game will boil down to which teams’ post players control the game, we’ll see if Brooks and Bacot are up to the task.
3. Three Point Defense: Notre Dame only shoots 34% from behind the arc as a team, but don’t let that number fool you. Mike Brey always has shooters on his team, and this team is no different. TJ Gibbs is the only player that shoots above 40% from deep, but Hubb and Goodwin are capable shooters. Mooney also has the ability to step out, and connect on the long ball. Carolina will have to discipline, and be able to run their shooters off the three point line. We haven’t seen the zone defense in a while, but with Notre Dame’s ability to penetrate, the one defense could return tonight.
Series History: Carolina owns a 25-7 mark against Notre Dame, including 9-3 since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC. In South Bend Carolina is 5-2, but don’t let that distract you from how tough the environment will be tonight.
UNC - 94th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 104.6 ( 133rd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.8 ( 79th )
Notre Dame - 59th overall. Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 110.5 ( 36th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.7 ( 110th )
TV Info: This game is apart of ESPN’s “Big Monday” so this ACC contest will tip off at 7 pm.