Over halfway through the season and I still don’t quite understand why we are losing to the teams the way we are losing. That sounds vague so let me elaborate. We are losing to teams in ways that have to be on the scouting report; that should be almost the entirety of scouting reports. These things have got to be obvious when watching film. Before I get to UVA I will use Iowa as an example. They beat us by shooting 3’s… That is literally THE entire scouting report on the Hawkeyes and we gave them open look after open look. The scouting report on UVA this year was that their starting bigs were their best scorers and 3 point threats. Anyone can look up the season stats and see that. Watch film and you would know that. You would also know that they don’t traditionally play down low. The post players play a lot on the perimeter. Those were the guys that beat us or you can look at it as we beat ourselves. Hauser went for 17 points and Huff had 18. They combined to go 7-11 from 3 and as a team UVA went 10-22 from 3. Hauser and Huff had 7 of the 10 makes. Our bigs were slow to close out or were caught playing too far off their man. Hauser nor Huff beat our bigs off the dribble once. That just isn’t their game. Again this should all be in the scouting report. Is our basketball IQ just that low? Are we not watching film? Are we not paying attention during film? Or are we simply ignoring the scouting report? It’s puzzling.
We only scored 18 points in the second half with the highlight being Love’s dunk off a steal for our first basket. It was all downhill from there. We needed a perfect game to beat UVA and the game we played was far from that. Shockingly, we ended up our 7th straight loss to UVA. We needed to make shots close to the basket, but were a horrid 13-28 on lay-ups/dunks. Now all of those weren’t lay ups or dunks, but there is no excuse for shooting below 50% on shoots right under the basket. I hate to pick on Sharpe because all of our big guys were guilty of this, but Sharpe misses way too many easy shots. He has a good motor and he is relentless, but he needs to start being more consistent under the basket. It is something that has been addressed at practice.
We went 6-12 from the free throw line and 2-16 from 3. Walton had the only 2 makes. You can’t win a game against a quality opponent shooting that poorly. We had no double digit scorers and our leading scorer came off the bench. Kessler had 9 points in 11 minutes and was the lone bright spot besides only having 8 turnovers.
UVA is a good fundamental team and they can make a good team look bad. They execute their game plan. Part of our struggles were due to a lack of execution on both ends of the floor. Throw the not so great officiating out the door for a second. If we went 19-28 on layups the game would be tied or if we made all our free throws and went 16-28 on layups the game would be tied. It all seems fairly simple to me. Lack of execution and poor fundamentals is killing this team. Or maybe it isn’t that simple because the problems remain the same.
Picking up a game against Northeastern does little to add a quality win to our NCAA tournament resume and it would most certainly be a bad loss if that were to happen. Our resume is lacking because we haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities we have been given. We are 1-6 in Quadrant 1 opportunities in the NET, and 5-1 in Quadrant 2 games. We are 4-0 in Quad 3 and 2-0 in Quad 4.
Miami will sit at home this week and it honestly doesn’t benefit them to play extra games since they are out of the tournament picture. Our game against them is similar to the situation with our now scheduled Northeastern game. It would have done little to help us in the ACC or in the eyes of the NCAA. The postponement of the Clemson and Virginia Tech hurts as Clemson is tied with us in the standings and Virginia Tech is ahead of us. Both games would have gone a long way to improve our tournament resume especially Virginia Tech. It is good to see that Roy wants to play a full schedule regardless of who we play. Our schedule has been especially brutal this year. The 3 postponed games were all home games. Out of our 19 total games, only 6 have been at home with 13 games either on the road or at neutral sites. We are 6-0 at home. Playing the majority of our games away from home has undoubtedly hurt us as opposed to other teams who have played the majority of their games at home and have benefitted from it. Eleven of the other 14 teams in the ACC have played nine or more home games, including nine teams that have played 10 or more. No other ACC team has played fewer than seven home games to this point in the season.
Is this something the tournament committee should consider? I think they should. Yes the home court advantage isn’t as great of an advantage as in years past, but it is obviously still an advantage. Clearly players are more comfortable playing on the court they practice on. That should play into the strength of schedule statistics or should at least be a factor in ranking and selecting teams. How many games are played should also be a consideration. Teams that have had to take multiple week breaks due to covid have obviously not played the same amount of games. Maybe those games were the games against quality opponents so their record is somewhat inflated because they didn’t play the tougher teams in their conference. The tournament committee has a lot to consider this year and the best thing Carolina can do is win the remaining games and have a good showing in the ACC tournament. It starts with the Northeastern game.
BY THE NUMBERS:
UNC is 12-7 overall (7-5 in the ACC) coming off a loss at UVA
Northeastern is 9-7 overall (8-2 in the CAA) coming off a loss at Towson
The Tar Heels will take on the Huskies Wednesday for what is only the 7th home game on the season. The game will be at 7pm and will be on the ACC Network Extra. For those of you that looked at that and went “What is the ACC network Extra?” you can find it on ESPN’s website or app and can be watched from your digitals screens or casted to a TV depending on whether your TV has those capabilities. Crazy times we live in when a blue blood of college basketball has to send out a tweet to try to schedule an opponent.
This game SHOULD be a W, but seeing as though Northwestern is willing to play us, it is pretty obvious that they have some confidence that they could pull off an upset. The huskies are looking for a huge win, and well we are just trying to pick up a game without picking up a devastating loss in the process. This isn’t a game we should take lightly. Northeastern has played Syracuse, Georgia, and WVU. They lost to all those teams but they aren’t scared to play power 5 opponents. They are second in the CAA conference and have beat College of Charleston twice. A team with nothing to lose can be scary especially when we have everything to lose. It would only be a quadrant 3 win for us, but it would be a chance to find some rhythm before a big game with Louisville on Saturday. We could roll and gain some confidence. It is a last second addition to the schedule so neither team has much time to prepare for the other and there is very little familiarity between the 2 programs. You have to go back to 1991 to find the last time these teams played each other. It was a 101-66 Carolina victory.
Northeastern had a lengthy break due to covid where they were sidelined from 1/25-2/12. They are coming off of a double header weekend at Towson where they won the first game and lost the second game. They have played the same starters in those games (Eboigbodin F, Stucke F, Strong F, Walker G, Walters G). As you can see they have started 3 forwards the past 2 games, but have started 3 guards in the past. They play around an 8 man rotation but the rotation varies from game to game.
The Huskies are a small team that doesn’t rebound well. They have a negative rebound margin and Walters, a guard, leds them in rebounding at 6.8 per game. Their tallest guy is Eboigbodin who stands at 6’9”. Walker is a small guard, but he is their leading scorer at 18 points per game. He also leads the team in assists at 5.1 per game. Walters stands at 6’6”. Everything runs through these guys. As noted Walker leads the team in scoring and Walters is second at 11 points a game. 2 other players average in double figures. Strong averages 10.1 making 3 starters who average in double figures. Telfort averages 11 points a game. Strong is the only forward averaging in double figures.
The huskies play outside inside unlike us. They average 8.6 3’s a game and shoot almost 36% from behind the line. They have 4 players that average over 35% from the 3 point line. Walker shoots 35.5%, Walters shoots 38.9%, Strong shoots 40.3% and Eboigbodin shots 50%. I feel like this is possibly a “here we go again” type of situation as we normally struggle with teams that rely on the 3 and shoot it fairly well from deep. Our big men especially struggle guarding the 3 as they usually get caught playing too far off their man when they don’t have the ball or are too slow to close out. Strong poses a potential problem for that reason. Eboigbodin has only shot 2 3s so with such a small sample size I wouldn’t say he is a big threat to shoot the 3. Strong has 77 3 point attempts on the season.
I think our size will play a big factor in this game as we should have a massive advantage in the post. If they decide to double, which I imagine they would, we may have issues if we don’t pass out of it quickly. Entry passes or lack thereof was a problem in the UVA game. Our guards weren’t getting the ball into the post soon enough when our big guys sealed and gained position. We have to do that this game, if anything just to freaking practice it. We also can’t miss so many easy put backs under the basket. Sharpe has the potential to have a massive game since he is so much bigger than everyone on the Huskies’ roster. Kessler could also see more minutes given his production against UVA. Love is a lot bigger than Walker and I would love to see him play physical and get to the basketball. Walker is 6’0”. Love is listed at 6’4”. It is about time that Love starts to use his size and strength to his advantage on a continuous basis. We have seen his ability to finish through contact in flashes.
Bottom line is we have to win this game and I think we have to win big for it to mean anything. We need to gain some rhythm and confidence before another must win against Louisville. At this point, all the games seem like must wins.
For more info and interesting season stats check out the link below: