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North Carolina


Miami Fla

College Basketball Pick


Things haven't gone all too well for Miami over the last couple weeks, but most of that has to do with schedule. The Hurricanes had four road games out of five and hosted Notre Dame in another recent loss. But things are only going to get more difficult with North Carolina and Florida State coming to Coral Gables.

If the Hurricanes want to make the NCAA tournament, they'll have to win one of these games, that's just the situation they're in. Miami doesn't have a bad loss on the schedule, but hasn't beaten many good teams with quality of wins over NC State and Pittsburgh falling off by the day. A win in this game would change that, but it's going to be a huge task for the home team.

The deciding factor in this matchup will likely come down to what Miami can do on the glass. The 'Canes were handled in this game last year, although it was at Chapel Hill. UNC won the rebounding battle 46-29 and that can't happen again if Miami wants to win. The Tar Heels are best in the conference at rebounding on both ends, which isn't that surprising, but Miami isn't far behind. The Hurricanes have the second-best rebounding rate in the ACC, despite lacking major height.

That's going to be key here as Miami tries to find a way to deal with Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks and Tony Bradley. To help, they have bodies that can deal with the size of UNC in Dewan Hall and Kamari Murphy. Even Davon Reed isn't giving up much to the 6-foot-8 Justin Jackson. This game starts with at least competing on the boards, something that didn't happen in this contest last season. If they can do that, the next task will be trying to keep up with an offense that scores close to 90 points per game.

UNC doesn't shoot well, but when you get offensive boards on almost every other miss, that shooting rate doesn't matter. The issue for Miami is that its offense is not nearly as efficient, even with having a solid offensive rebound rate. And if those offensive rebounds don't come, it could be even more trouble.

That's why it could take a hot shooting game from someone on Miami to win. To help, UNC is run-of-the-mill at defending the three-point line. Miami doesn't have the greatest shooters, but Davon Reed can catch fire and Bruce Brown has been fairly consistent as of late. An ex-factor could end up being Dejan Vasiljevic, who had six threes in the loss at Syracuse a couple weeks ago. Of course, this game doesn't depend entirely on the three ball as point guard Ja'Quan Newton runs the show and he doesn't have that shot in his repertoire.

The question will be if those guys can not only limit UNC's bigs from doing too much, but also hold down guys like Joel Berry and Justin Jackson, both of whom can create shots for themselves. Miami may have the size to deal with the Heels, but that still may not be enough because UNC will get its points either way.

Since the Tar Heels got Theo Pinson back, they haven't lost, but have looked somewhat susceptible in road games at Wake Forest and Boston College. Miami may be able to compete, but to win, the Hurricanes will need to score more than what they have been.

Our Pick - North Carolina by 12

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