The Canes are hoping for another signature win on Tuesday, but it won’t come easy as the #10 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels host Miami.
Who: Miami Hurricanes (20-8, 9-7 in ACC) at #10 North Carolina Tar Heels (22-7, 11-5 ACC)
When: February 27th
Time: 9 PM Eastern
UNC is currently ranked #10 in the polls after winning 6 straight. They are third in the ACC, sitting 1 game behind second place Duke (and 2 games ahead of the Canes).
Best Win: 2/8 over Duke, 82-78. Duke vs. UNC is always one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) rivalry games of the year. This looked to be a down year for the matchup, as Duke was ranked 9th and UNC was ranked 21st coming into the game. That all changed once the ball was tipped, as the two teams produced another captivating battle, likely turning around the Tar Heels’ season.
Worst Loss: 12/21 to Wofford, 79-75. UNC was at its highest rank in the polls at #5, only to be stunned at home by a team currently ranked 4th in the Southern Conference. Not a great Christmas present for the defending national champs.
The Tar Heels are a potent offensive team, averaging 83 points per game. UNC is lead by junior forward Luke Maye (18 points per game) and senior guard Joel Berry II (17.7 points per game), but still features a well-balanced scoring attack as nearly all 5 starters average double figures (Theo Pinson is averaging 9.8 points per game).
UNC’s true strength is rebounding, a stat that they lead the nation in at 43 boards per game. The Tar Heels top 7 players all average over 3.6 rebounds per game. Maye is the team leader in this category as well, as the double-double machine brings in 10.3 rebounds per game. Defensively, UNC is not the strongest, allowing 73.4 points per game, which is where the Tar Heels have fallen into trouble this season. If Miami can put forward a solid defensive effort, they have a great shot at keeping pace with the Tar Heels.
Interesting Facts: Miami and North Carolina’s last meeting was on March 9th, 2017 in last years ACC Tournament, where UNC crushed off the Canes in the quarterfinals 78-53. The Canes did get the better of the Tar Heels during the regular season, with Miami sending UNC away from the Watsco Center with a 77-62 defeat on January 28th, 2017.
Line: North Carolina -10.0
ESPN’s Basketball Power Index Win Probability: 85.8% North Carolina
Prediction: Miami and UNC will engage in a fast-paced shootout as both offenses have been firing on all cylinders. This plays into the Tar Heels’ hands, however, and UNC defends home court with at 89-81 victory.