The last time we saw Carolina on the basketball floor, it was a record setting performance but not in the best way. The Heels suffered an embarrassing 74-49 home loss to Ohio State in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge. In the process Carolina suffered its' worst home loss under Roy Williams, and the second worst home loss in the history of the Smith Center. To make matters worst, Armando Bacot left the game early in the first half as he suffered a sprained ankle. While we know he wont being playing, we don't know how long he'll be sidelined. For a Carolina team that's struggling to score the basketball, his absence will be sorely missed.
Virginia enters this ACC contest, following a 69-40 loss at Purdue Wednesday night. The defending national champions have been stout on the defensive end, allowing 43.9 points per game, but have struggled putting the ball in the basket. The Cavaliers are 350th in scoring, there are 353 teams, that compete in Division 1 college basketball, to put into their struggles into perspective. It was going to be hard replacing Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome, and De'Andre Hunter, but losing Braxton Key hindered them even more. Expect them to slow the game down even more, and make Carolina value possessions even more.
Roy Williams' and the Tar Heels haven't won in Charlottesville since back in 2012, and if they want to win today they'll have their cut out from them. The Hall of Fame head coach has been visibly frustrated in his press conferences following the loss Wednesday night, with his team, and himself. Following the loss to Michigan, the coach was anxious to see how his team would respond to adversity. They responded with their best win of the season, over Oregon to finish 3rd in the Battle for Atlantis. Here are three things to watch, as Carolina once again looks to respond in a positive way to adversity:
1. Transition Offense: Carolina has been more than limited in the open floor this season so far. They haven't gotten the easy buckets in transition we've grown accustomed to seeing over the years. This has really hurt their efficiency numbers, and has hampered the offense even more. It's imperative against the Cavaliers to score some easy baskets in the open floor, because once they get their defense set, it'll be a tough task to score.
2. Half-Court Offense: For all the struggles we've seen in the transition game, the half-court game has been worse. Even with all the lost production, and new faces nobody expected to see the Heels have so many issues in their offensive sets. Without Armando Bacot, who steps up in his absence? is their any movement from the guys without the basketball? Are the screens more effective? All the little things have to improve to help this team the way they are currently constructed, for them to have a chance.
3. Rebounding: Ohio State controlled the glass in the Smith Center, out-rebounding the home team 48-32. The calling card of this program is their ability to own the backboards on both ends of the floor. Virginia isn't known for their rebounding prowess, thus giving the visitors a way to keep themselves in the game, if the offense isn't functioning properly. Without Bacot, someone will have to step up in his absence as the big man had recorded 4 double-doubles in his past 5 games.
UNC: 22nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 ( 30th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 90.3 ( 27th )
Virginia: 10th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 102.3 ( 120th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 80.5 ( 1st )
Series History: Carolina leads the all time series 131-57, as the two programs have had fun battles in the ACC. Under Roy Williams, UNC is 16-11, as Tony Bennett has experienced success against one of game's elite. Carolina last won in John Paul Jones Arena back in 2012, as 54-51 win for the eventual ACC Regular Season Champion Tar Heels.
TV Info: This ACC contest will be televised by no other than the ACC Network. Both teams will look to bounce back after suffering blowout losses earlier in the week at 4 pm from Charlottesville.
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