How many times this season will we press how important a game is for the Tar Heels? North Carolina is still reeling from that Virginia game and lost any momentum from the UNLV win, if there still can be momentum when there’s a week between games. Reggie Bullock called a players-only meeting early this week and maybe that means Reggie is becoming more of a vocal leader. We’re just looking for someone to take control of this team while it’s on the court. It doesn’t look like Marcus Paige is ready to step into that role yet, and if Dexter Strickland can’t handle both the offense and the leadership role, well, guess it should fall on Reggie. Not sure if the player’s ball is going to work, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Miami has had its own ups and downs this year. Sound familiar? The Hurricanes knocked off Michigan State in Coral Gables during the ACC-Big Ten Challenge yet lost to Florida Gulf Coast and Indiana State. Reggie Johnson, who’s had trouble staying on the court during his career, is out for this game but The U still comes in with a record just as good as UNC, and ahead of them in the very new ACC standings.
How do we feel about this game in Chapel Hill? We’re not at liberty to say.
- The ‘Canes may be down a big man but they still have Durand Scott. Scott may as well have gone to Duke, it feels like he’s been playing at Miami for over ten years. The guard is finally a senior but he’s been known to light up UNC. This season he’s leading his team in scoring (14.7 ppg) and coming off a game against Georgia Tech where he was held to single digits. I say this because it means he may use the North Carolina game to bring that average back up. Scott is 6’5″ and loves taking it to the basket. Dexter and P.J. Hairston will be busy.
- Kenny Kadji hasn’t playing up to his Third Team All-ACC status but he still scares the hell out of us. At 6’11″, the senior is still known to jack it from beyond the arc as often as he does in the block. His FG% is down but he’s still averaging almost 12 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
- Shane Larkin had a solid freshman year at point guard and continued it into his sophomore season. Second on the team in scoring at 12.8 per, Larkin is shooting 43 percent from three and nabs more than two steals per game. That backcourt of Larkin and Scott is scary. Throw in senior Trey McKinney Jones and UNC has its hands full.
- Miami’s offense as a whole isn’t particularly potent (68.8 ppg, 152nd in nation), but they have been able to hold opponents under 60.
- Remember how we were mostly talking about guards up above? The Hurricanes don’t necessarily rebound well. North Carolina pulls down eight more rebounds a contest than does Miami (44-36).
Benn is recusing himself from making a prediction in this match-up. He will say that this Tar Heels team is built to play at home. It should win this game. We stress should.