What: NIT Tip-Off Regional Final
Where: Bobcats Arena, Charlotte, NC
When: November 15th, 7:00 PM
Records: UNC 1-0, Winthrop 2-0
Now that first game is under the belt it will be interesting to see what the Heels look like tonight. There were undoubtedly a lot of butterflies last night and in many respects the freshmen looked like freshmen. UNC got a big boost from the more experienced players in Tyler Hansbrough, Reyshawn Terry, and Wes Miller. Against Winthrop I would not be surprised to see a little more of a breakout performance from Brandan Wright and Wayne Ellington. According to Roy Williams, Wright and Ellington have done a much better job of picking up the system and fitting in with the Carolina system. This explains why they were starting last night. Ty Lawson, who most expect will be the starting point guard later in the season, is still working to get full acclimated according to Williams. This means Bobby Frasor will continue to start at point guard and run the offense.
As for Winthrop, I think this is an excellent early test against a very good team from a lower tier conference. Winthrop gave Tennessee fits in the NCAA Tournament last season and almost beat the Vols int he 1st round. The Eagles have been the dominant team in the Big South for about six years and Gregg Marshall is a very good coach who got into the conversation somewhat when the NC State job was open in April. The Eagles are not necessarily a great shooting team. Last season they had only nine games over 50% shooting from the field out of 31 played. In fact in 10 games they did not even break 40% from the field and a majority of those games were against conference opponents in the Big South. Last night against Iona, Winthrop only managed 39% shooting and 57 points. 6-5 guard Torrell Martin was the Eagles' leading scorer a year ago. 6-10 Craig Bradshaw was their second leading scorer and rebounder a year ago but saw limited minutes against Iona. Guards Michael Jenkins and Chris Ganyor had solid performances last night as did Phillip Williams who had nine rebounds.
Overall, this game should not be a problem for UNC to win. I think Roy will be expecting more consistency out of them this evening as well as a full 40 minutes of effort. Something tells me UNC's scoring will be tempered somewhat as Winthrop will look to slow it down and work UNC into more of a halfcourt game where their defense is more likely to be effective.
Prediction: UNC 88 Winthrop 62