Tale of the Tape: UNC-Michigan St.

Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Here is how the Tar Heels match up statistically with the Michigan State Spartans.

North Carolina Michigan State
Conference ACC Big Ten
Record 4-2 7-0
KenPom Rank 19th 4th
Points per game 76.7 85.9
Points per possession 1.07 1.19
Offensive Efficiency(Rank) 112.7(32nd) 115.8(9th)
Defensive Efficiency(Rank) 94.5(23rd) 91.8(7th)
Tempo(Rank) 71.0(77th) 70.9(82nd)
Offensive eFG% 51.0% 56.9%
Defensive eFG% 44.7% 44.8%
Field Goal % 48.1% 50.6%
3P FG% 32.8% 38.8%
Offensive Reb Rate 34.7% 30.5%
Defensive Reb Rate 71.1% 73.5%
TO Rate 17.8% 14.3%
FT Rate 49.3% 27.4%
KenPom win probability MSU 79%

Stats sources: KenPom and Statsheet

Despite losing two games to Belmont and UAB, the Tar Heels continue to be fairly buoyant in terms of the numbers. Since the sample size is still kind of small, the win over Louisville is helping. It is also important to remember that while the free throw shooting was bad versus Belmont, UNC still scored 80 points meaning the offense has been mostly functional this season. The loss to UAB saw the Blazers shoot the ball poorly but the rebounding edge provided more possessions than UNC got and mitigated them shooting 30%. Still, UNC's defensive numbers benefited from the game even if you could argue the defense wasn't that good.

Moving onto Michigan State, this is a tall order on paper. The Spartans do a variety of things well. They shoot the ball well both inside(26th nationally) and outside(56th nationally) the arc. They are top 20 in effective FG% and turnover rate on offense while operating at close to the same tempo as UNC has this season.

The only questionable numbers are the free throw rate, MSU is near the bottom in how many times they go to the free throw line. The Spartans are also 202nd in offensive rebounding rate which is a bit of surprise given rebounding is a focus for Tom Izzo. Of course when the team is hitting 50% of all field goals and 38% from three, there aren't as many shots to rebound on the offensive end.

On the defensive end, MSU is holding teams to 41.7% from two and 33.1% from three. The latter number will be inconsequential to UNC unless Marcus Paige gets a bunch of open looks from three and hits them. The book on UNC at this point is stop the offense inside the arc and MSU appears to be very good at doing that.

Simply looking at the statistics, UNC's best chance in this game is to make it a traditional Big Ten defensive battle which is just dripping with irony.

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