If you asked me to pick the Canes game this season that spurred this hot streak, I would choose the first meeting between these two teams in Chapel Hill. Why? Down 2, on the road, in a hostile environment, Miami came out and completely controlled the second half. From that point forward, this team hasn’t looked back. I could say it was the La Salle game, when the Canes dominated the 2nd half by 23 after trailing by 6 at the break, but that was a home game against an inferior opponent. On the road at UNC? That’s a whole other animal.
This time around is different, however. Here’s a list of UNC’s quality wins this season:
12/29: #20 UNLV, at home.
Well, there’s your complete list.
They’ve lost to Butler, Indiana, NC State, and Miami.
UNC is desperate for a quality win right now, and on the road against a top 10 team would fit the bill perfectly. After this game they travel to Duke, which is another tough game. They need one of these two, because after this, their only game with a ranked team is Duke in the final game of the season. I know they’re UNC, but their resume is seriously lacking right now.
North Carolina Scouting Report
UNC plays at a crazy high pace: They average 74.1 possessions per game, which is the 5th most in the country. Because of this, UNC is able to score a lot of points: They average 79.1 per game, which is the 6th most in the country. Last time these two teams played, there were 71 possessions (assuming my math is correct). This time around, Coach L would probably prefer that the Canes slow it down even more than they did in the last match up between these teams, and keep that number around 67. Four possessions doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you consider that the last game was decided by 9 points, it can make the difference.
One other thing I found interesting – UNC has 7 players that average at least 7 points a game. Miami only has 5. It doesn’t mean too much, but it’s pretty clear that UNC has some serious weapons on the offensive end. Much like last time, when the Canes held UNC to only 40% from the floor, Miami will need to bring their A game on the defensive end.
Key For The Canes
Contain Reggie Bullock. Last time these two teams played, Reggie Bullock was instrumental in UNC’s first half lead: He was 3-7 from the floor (all three pointers) for 9 points. In the second half? He went 1-9 from the floor for 2 points. So yeah, after the Canes keyed in on Bullock, the tide swung in Miami’s favor. It also helped that James Michael McAdoo went 5-14 in that game, but still – the game clearly changed when the Canes switched up their defensive strategy on Bullock.
I have a hard time picking against the Canes at this point, especially at home, where they are 10-0 this season. This game will be Miami’s third sellout of the season, so I expect the BUC to be rocking once again. One more difference? The Canes have Reggie Johnson back for this game. Miami was outrebounded 30-28, including allowing 10 offensive rebounds. I might be alone in this one, but the guy who stands 6’10, 295 seems like he’d make a difference in that regard. Miami wins this one 74-67.