Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: January 7th, 7:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports Net
Records: UNC 13-1, 0-0 ACC, Florida State 12-3, 0-1 ACC
This is the ACC opener for UNC and also the only regular season meeting between these two teams thanks to the unbalanced schedule. Needless to say this is a huge game for both teams even if you do not consider the fact it is a conference game. FSU would like to avoid an 0-2 start in the league as well as snagging one of those premium road wins. UNC has not seen what anyone would describe as a decent team since Kentucky visited on December 2nd. This will be the first real test for the Heels who have made huge strides in terms of team chemistry and defense.
FSU plays small for the most part with five guards playing 18 mins or more and only two forwards over 20 mins. Senior Al Thorton will be the force to watch underneath for the Noles averaging 16 ppg. His matchup with either Hansbrough or Wright and vice versa will be one crucial battleground. FSU's propensity to play so many guards will obviously put pressure on the UNC guards to play solid defense. These ACC games are where contributions from guys like Frasor, Green, Miller, and Ginyard in particular will be extremely important. Lawson and Ellington will be leaned on heavily to spark the perimeter offense and take care of the basketball. As always Terry can tip the balance by contributing in all different areas on the court.
One of the bigger bugaboos for UNC has been starting slow and really not kicking in until the second half. FSU is not as deep as UNC but has enough depth to keep the gap closer. The hope is UNC can come out and play a statement game. A full 40 minutes of effort and intensity on their way to posting a big win here would send a message that all of the hype surrounding UNC in the preseason was not hype at all. Then again any win in the ACC, no matter how it is played is a win.
UNC 90 FSU 68