What: NIT Tip-Off Consolation Game
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: November 24th, 4:30 PM
Records: UNC 3-1, Tennessee 4-1
Everyone assumed that this would be the NIT title game not the game for third place. Say hello to parity in college basketball coupled with early season kinks. Basically this will be a game between two teams who do not want to leave New York having lost two straight games. Of course it is a bigger deal for UNC who has Ohio State and Kentucky in the coming week which are games that could do without the pressure of trying to shake bad play through a couple of losses.
Tennessee surprised many last season thriving under the guidance of Bruce Pearl. This season they were slated early on as a low Top 25 team. Basically the Vols are a perimeter team with guards Chris Lofton and JaJuan Smith combining for 30 points per game. So this game, more than anything else, will be an excellent test for UNC to control the opponent's dribble penetration and defend the three point shot better than they have been.
This game will also come down to which Tyler Hansbrough shows up. I think the even money is on one ticked off sophomore center looking to redeem himself from such a poor showing against Gonzaga. I also have to think that the intensity level for UNC will be up a notch. In many respects I would not be surprised if UNC game out and handled the Vols right away and put forth 40 minutes of effort. Then again that inexperience bugaboo as well as the general lack of chemistry/flow within the rotation could do UNC in again. In short it would be nice to see consistent performances from Reyshawn Terry, Wayne Ellington, and Ty Lawson. It would also be nice to see good one-on-one defense from various Tar Heel defenders.
A loss in this game will bring serious questions forth on how good this team will be by March. I go with UNC to rebound.
UNC 95 Tennessee 79