Pick – Analysis
One of these teams need this win and the other, while they don’t need it, need to find their footing fast. Miami (FL) needs this win if it wants to be considered for March Madness. North Carolina, losers of five of its last seven Games, needs to snap out of a funk.
The Hurricanes are on the outside of the bubble at the moment with only a few real quality wins to their name (Illinois, at Duke, at Syracuse). On the other end of that, they also have losses to Green Bay, Eastern Kentucky, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. This team is the definition of hit-or-miss and they’ll definitely need to hit in this Game because the Tar Heels are not happy.
Coming off a home loss to NC State, the Heels are looking to retain any confidence they once had this season. Another loss would only put more frustration into the minds of the players, as well as Roy Williams. Once looking like a 4-seed, UNC needs a win here to hold onto that.
These teams haven’t played yet this year, but the biggest factor in this Game is going to be North Carolina’s size. Tonye Jekiri has been solid this year averaging 10.6 boards per Game, but he’s not going to hold off one of the best rebounding teams in the nation by himself. Otherwise, something will have to change for the Canes because the combo of Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson is going to be too much.
Both of Miami’s transfers will need to be hitting their shots. That may not be a problem for leading scorer Sheldon McClellan, who’s been on fire as of late, but Angel Rodriguez is one of the main reasons this team is hit-or-miss. At times, Rodriguez has stepped up and won Games for Miami, but the kid is averaging 32% from the field and just over 30% from three. Those are not good numbers for a guy that leads the team in shot attempts. He has been worse lately (outside of Wednesday’s win), which doesn’t help his case.
One has to think Roy Williams lit a fire under his team after they only scored 46 points last Game, one of the worst outputs ever by a Tar Heel team at home. It’s likely they’ll attack the paint as much as possible, much like they did against Duke in the previous week when they lost in overtime. If that starts to draw double teams at all, look for Marcus Paige to step in and hit down open shots. Much like Miami, UNC has not gotten consistent production out of its guards as of late and that’s a main reason why they’re struggling.
The Hurricanes may be playing for their Tourney lives at home, but will that be enough to beat a hungry team that can simply beat them up down low? Miami has played better at home in its last couple Games, but beating up on Virginia Tech and Clemson is not the same thing as North Carolina. The Tar Heels only quality road win this year was at NC State. Which stat will change in this Game?
Our Prediction – North Carolina by 7