USA TODAY Sports
One more look at where the small lineup ultimately ended up by comparison.
Now that the sample of ACC games prior to the lineup change and after the lineup change are closer(10 vs 8) let's look at how personnel change ultimately bore out.
- One noteworthy stat is the number of possessions continued to decline the longer UNC played with the smaller lineup going from 70.2 to 69.0 after five games and now eight games in at 67.8. One caveat here is Duke took the air out of the ball on Saturday night while nursing a big lead so that may be dragging the numbers down a bit.
- The turnover gap shrunk slightly with UNC's TOs going up and their opponents going down. Marcus Paige with 13 TOs in two games is the primary source of that increase in Tar Heel miscues.
- The three point shooting continued to improve despite the Heels going 1-14 in the second Duke game. Prior to the Duke game, UNC was shooting 38.9% from three with the new lineup.
- The three point defense has really improved with teams dropping a full six percent against UNC in the past eight ACC games versus the first ten. In the first three games with the new lineup teams shot 37.5%, 57.1% and 38.1% against UNC from three. In the last five games only two teams have shot better than 30% against UNC with Duke's 33.3% being tops.
- The FT shooting continues to improve and opposing teams are getting to the line less.
- The OR% ticked up slightly from the five game mark but the DR% slipped some.
Overall, the smaller lineup continued to be a success as evidenced in the six game winning streak and despite what happened in the second Duke game. Probably the most surprising aspect of this lineup is it was made to augment offensive production but the defense has actually improved as well. UNC's defensive efficiency is actually ranked ahead of the offensive efficiency(33 vs 39) in KenPom which was not the case before. Some of that is the opposition with UNC playing teams that struggle offensively. However there is evidence of improved defensive play such as the first Duke game and the win over NC State in Chapel Hill. And even though some of the teams UNC beat struggled offensively, UNC still held them at or below their average offensive efficiency in most cases.
Any success UNC has in the ACC and NCAA Tournament will depend greatly on the three point shooting and defense performing at a high level.