Preview: UNC vs. College of Charleston

Forgive me for being paranoid, but with College of Charleston coming to Chapel Hill this evening, I can’t help but draw on the parallels to last year’s debacle at their place.

Last year, the Tar Heels came into the match-up ranked (No. 9), young and coming off a game against Albany in which the visitors had outscored Carolina 23-2 down the stretch. CoC, of course, outscored the Heels 12-1 in the final minutes to take the game to overtime on Andrew Goudelock’s 3-pointer over Deon Thompson’s fully extended arm. UNC’s only 3-pointer came in overtime.

This year Carolina finds itself ranked (No.25), young and coming off a game against an overmatched opponent (UNC-Asheville) who actually outscored the Heels in the second half. Preseason Southern Conference Player of the Year Goudelock is back and, in case you hadn’t noticed, UNC doesn’t exactly shoot the three with a ton of accuracy.

With that said, there are still opportunities for Carolina to take control of this game, and it doesn’t hurt that this year the battle’s in the Dean Dome.

  • A bright spot for the Heels this year has been the play of junior Tyler Zeller, whose 23 points propelled Carolina against Asheville. John Henson has improved around the basket and has been in double-double territory regularly. The Cougars’ tallest players top out at 6’8″, so the Heels should look to exploit the size disadvantage CoC will be dealing with.
  • It’s a credit to Roy Williams’ recruiting skill that Carolina usually has a lot of depth on the bench. If box scores are an indicator of Bobby Cremins plan for this game, CoC will run a seven-man rotation for most of the game. UNC should look inside even more than normal to get the Cougar  starters into foul trouble.
  • It’s no secret Goudelock (pictured right) is the go-to option for Cremins’ squad. Carolina doesn’t typically fair well defensively against good guards (see Rice, Tyrese; Teague, Jeff; Delaney, Malcolm; and any other notable ACC guards in the past few years). If UNC steps up to limit Goudelock, the game will play into its hands.

It’s becoming clear to everyone, even Roy, that Zeller has been the best offensive option thus far in the season. If Carolina can establish the post, the game should go well for the Heels. Of course, the two-seasons-long caveat still stands — UNC must limit its turnovers and take care of the basketball to accomplish said game plan. Still, going with the home team on this one. If Carolina hasn’t had this redemption game circled on its calendar since January 4, it should have, but calendar or not, the players can’t have forgotten. It’s time for revenge.

Prediction: UNC 80, CoC 73