It wasn't too long ago that people were expecting good things out of Miami basketball. The team won all fourteen of their non-conference games, although that schedule was so soft they couldn't even crack the Top 25 with a 15-1 record. Since then, however, it's been a long stretch of misery for the Hurricanes. They've only won four conference games all at home, and now travel to Chapel Hill to face a Carolina team fresh off their first good win since Michigan State and looking at their best chance to hit 2,000 wins ahead of a rapidly approaching Kansas. Oh, and it's Senior Day, too.
The Hurricanes also have the misfortune of not being suited to capitalize on the Heels' weaknesses. They don't generate much in the way of turnovers on defense, and actually cough the ball up themselves at a faster rate than UNC. They play a slowed-down game, and for all their height are merely average on the boards. And they have the worst defense in the conference. Their one hope is their propensity to take threes, as an early hot hand from behind the arc has put UNC into quite a few holes this season they've failed to dig themselves out from.
The guys to watch in that regard are Adrian Thomas and James Dews – tall, lanky guard/forward types who like to hang around the perimeter. Neither have had much success against the Heels in the past, Dews especially, so if they don't get off to a quick start look for them to rely more on Dwayne Collins and freshman guard Durand Scott for interior play. On defense, Miami will almost certainly pack it in and bait Carolina into shooting over them. This is a team with numerous shot blockers, led by Collins, and they have the bodies to beat up on the Heels in the paint.
Last year's game against Miami was an uncomfortable close affair that required serious heroics from Ty Lawson to avoid an upset. But that team had Jack McClinton, now graduated, and there's no one on this year's team who can take over a game like that. Couple that with the emotions of the seniors' last home game and the chance to nab a historic-numbered win, and it's hard to see how Carolina can lose. But this team keeps finding ways to do so; hopefully the Wake game ended that particular tendency, and the new-look Tar Heels can get a winning streak going.