UNC vs. Lipscomb Preview

Tonight is one of the best nights of the year. It’s when months mixed with speculation, longing, hatred (Duke recruiting news) and even some indifference (see: Gavin Grant) come to an end, and the Heels finally kick off the new basketball season. All is right with the world.

This year, Carolina fans have to be encouraged by a few things: 1) The team’s much-improved play during the NIT run, 2) The pressure to defend the 2009 title is well in the past, and 3) The freshman players, notably preseason AP All American Harrison Barnes.

One note about No. 2 in the list above. Some coaches think that the year following a title shouldn’t be labeled as “defending” the championship because the team has added new players who weren’t a part of the previous title. Bull. Shit. Every team you play that next year will be gunning for you. Fact: The season will be much tougher because of said gunning. It is a “defense.” I digress.

Anyway, below is what it seems the Heels can expect from the wily Lipscomb Bison:

Front-court depth: The Bison return Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Adnan Hodzic. The Bosnian Beast averaged 22 points and 9 boards last year. Another veteran, 6’8″ junior Justin Glenn, just dropped 17 points and 6 rebounds in the Bison’s 106-59 victory over Trevecca. The Bison will field almost as many players 6’8″ or taller as the Tar Heels, with three compared to the Heels’ four. If Big Z, Knox or Henson gets in foul trouble, Barnes will need to drop into the four spot to prevent some mismatches.

Fresh Legs:  The Bison played everyone on the roster in the exhibition against Trevecca, granted it was an exhibition blowout. Still, only one player saw single-digit minutes and all but two had more than 15. The Bison might be able to keep up with Roy’s up-tempo offense, at least conditioning-wise.

The Heels will need to focus on stopping Hodzic and guard Josh Slater. Lipscomb is athletic but not as skilled as the Heels. Plus, its the first home game of the year for UNC, so the Dean Dome will be rocking.

Bottom Line: UNC 105, Lipscomb 65