After a disappointing and embarrassing result on Tuesday night, Carolina is back on the road, as they will travel to Wake Forest tomorrow night, in a highly important game for both teams’ NCAA Tournament hopes. The last time we saw Carolina, they were getting run off the court, as Miami made quick work of the Tar Heels, 85-57, as the Hurricanes now have wins over both Duke and UNC. Carolina was plagued by a lack of competitive spirit, poor shot selection, turnovers, and lousy defense. In a season that consists of blowouts to Tennessee and Kentucky, Tuesday night was even worse.
Wake Forest enters with a 15-4 record and is one of the more pleasant surprises not just in the ACC, but in all of college basketball. A heavy dose of transfers has Steve Forbes’ program on the right track, in just his second season in Winston Salem. One of those transfers is Alondes Williams, who leads the team in scoring, assists, and rebounding. Williams is a legitimate threat to win ACC Player of the Year and is the driving force behind Wake’s emergence. Overall, the Demon Deacons do have four players averaging double figures scoring, as they are fifth-best in the country, shooting the ball inside the three-point. Their four losses have come to LSU on a neutral floor, at Louisville, at Miami, and at home to Duke, so Wake is tested, and primed for a big home win.
Tonight will feel like old times in the ACC with Carolina and Wake Forest, competing in an important conference game. There was a time when Wake and Carolina competed in the Dixie Classic which was a premier holiday tournament, consisting of Big Four schools (UNC, Duke, NC State, and Wake Forest). You could make the argument, that this will be the most anticipated matchup between these two in Winston-Salem, since a matchup of top 5 teams, all the way back in January of 2009.
Carolina is 12-5, but they haven’t accomplished much as they are still seeking their first Quad 1 win, as they are 0-4 in games against Quad 1 opponents. After Tuesday’s contest, Carolina’s NCAA Tournament standing is still in question, as their resume is lacking impressive wins as of date. A win at Wake Forest will provide a much needed confidence boost, not only to the players but a coaching staff that has been speechless far too often this season:
Contain Alondes Williams: Stopping Williams is highly unlikely, but they do need to limit his impact as much as possible. If allowed to run wild, Williams can dominate, and dictate the game on both ends of the floor. Chances are Leaky Black will draw the assignment on Williams, and will need to be much better than he was on Tuesday at Miami. Like Miami, Wake Forest does have multiple guards that can attack you in a multitude of ways, but they feed off of Alondes Williams. If you can limit his impact, you give yourself a chance.
Shot Selection: There were a lot of reasons Carolina lost on Tuesday, but their shot selection was the worst it has been all season long. For the first time all year, Carolina got caught up in Miami’s perimeter barrage and completely got out of its offense. It’s going to be electric in Lawrence-Joel Coliseum tonight, Wake is going to make shots, but the Tar Heels need to stay committed to running their offense. If not, another result like Tuesday isn’t out of the question.
Turnovers: Carolina committed 14 turnovers in Tuesday’s loss, and Miami turned those into 30 points. Wake Forest forces just over 13 turnovers per game, so like Miami, they will be aggressive on the defensive end. The turnovers the other night were simply a result of being careless with the basketball, and not playing smart. They’ll need Caleb Love and R.J. Davis to play smart, and value each possession.
Series History: UNC is 163-67 all-time against the Demon Deacons, and is 55-32 on the road. Hubert Davis was 9-0 against Wake Forest as a Tar Heel player.
UNC - 37th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 114.0 (22nd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.3 (83rd(
Wake Forest - 41st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.1 (55th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 95.5 (49th)
UNC - 43rd.
Wake Forest - 44th.
TV Info: Tonight’s game will tip at 8 PM on the ACC Network.
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