Survive and advance. I found it interesting that as Carolina was narrowing the gap between them and the Hurricanes the announcers kept harping on the fact that Miami had been in so many close games and had done well enough in them (4-4) that they should have the confidence, and thus, the advantage going forward. I found this interesting because North Carolina is now 7-1 in games with a final margin of 3 points or less. This is an outstanding record for any team, but for a team as young as this, it is truly remarkable. Yes, the first 30-33 minutes were ugly (as is becoming commonplace for teams coming off of a bye), but in the eyes of the RPI, Charlie Sheen, and ultimately the selection committee, a win is a win, and style points need not apply.
A very rare thing happened yesterday: UNC had an eFG% over 50.0 (54.0) and an offensive efficiency under 100.0 (95.3), which has only happened 3 other times since Roy Williams has been the head coach (2006 - @VPI, 2008 - Davidson, 2011 - @Illinois). The primary culprit in the Heels offensive struggle was the fact that they looked like they were playing basketball with a greased pig. The Heels threw the ball over the gym, and on the rare occasions when there was actually another Tar Heel in the vicinity, they usually dropped it, leading to a season's worst TO% of 31.2. The Heels' play in this regard was particularly egregious in the 1st half, as they turned the ball over on a stunning 42.4% of their possessions. UNC did regroup a bit at halftime, cutting their TO% to a much better 19.4 in the second half, and they have not gone 2 games-in-a-row with a TO% over 20.0 since the VPI and GIT games, so it is probably a reasonable assumption that they will take better care of the ball against Clemson.
Despite having an excellent overall eFG%, this too was also a tale of two halves, as UNC shot a spectacular 68.5% in the second half, fueled primarily by a 7-12 performance from behind the arc. UNC's lights-out shooting, combined with taking better care of the basketball, allowed them to produce a second-half OE of 125.8 and an efficiency margin of 35.5.
- UNC had a season's best assist percentage of 77.3, thought it could be argued that the Heels were actually being too unselfish and part of the reason for their turnovers was that they were making too many extra passes.
- UNC's defensive efficiency after a turnover was 135.0. When they did not turn the ball over, it was 72.7.
- Leslie McDonald (+28) and Dexter Strickland (+20) were the only Tar Heels with a Roland Rating greater than 10. Justin Knox had the low score on the team at -26.
Beyond the Box Player of the Game
Before getting to the POG, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10% or minimum minutes percentage: 80.0):
[table id=94 /]
Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller may have combined for the game's winning play, but the only reason the Heels were even able to get to that point was the play of the Player of the Game, Harrison Barnes. Barnes not only led the team in scoring, while also chipping in 5 rebounds with only 1 turnover (team best TO%: 11.1). And if it weren't for Barnes, the first-half might have gotten really ugly. Barnes' eFG% in the first-half was 71.4; the rest of the team could only manage a putrid 21.9%. Perhaps most importantly, this was the first time all-season that Barnes has lead the team in ORtg. In the regular season, Barnes made it a habit of stepping up shining during (and sometimes only in) the game's most crucial moments. Now that we have reached the point in the season were every game is crucial, is it really any surprise that Barnes came out and shined from the start? Tyler Zeller and John Henson may have been the team's MVPs during the regular season, but you just get the feeling that the post-season is going to belong to #40.
Beyond the Box Player of the Year
The BTB POY is based on a points system in which a player gets 10 points for being named the POG and 3 points for having a top five ORtg, with a 2 point bonus for having the top ORtg.
[table id=99 /]
Note: For reference, a full stats glossary can be found at StatSheet.com.