Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Wednesday, January 2nd, 8:00 PM
Records/RPI: UNC 13-0/4th; Kent St. 10-2/38th
I have included the RPI ratings in the summary information above. In case you were wondering Valpo is presently 36th in the RPI and Nevada is 37th which means Kent State is yet another strong mid-major team paying the Heels a visit. What makes Kent State's rating interesting is they have not really beaten anyone of consequence, have a glaring loss to Detroit to start the season with a second loss coming at the hands of previously ranked Xavier. So for some of the noise I have heard that UNC is not playing a tough schedule, I am of the opinion that playing these kinds of top 50 RPI teams from the mid-major ranks are as good as test as you will get from anyone. Teams like this generally are very well coached, have players who play like they have nothing to lose while showing zero inclination towards being intimidated whatsoever. Given UNC's propensity for playing these teams loosely before clamping down and crushing them, this game is another invitation to see if UNC can put together a full game of solid basketball.
Like Valpo, Kent State is another good three point shooting team coming at over 39% from behind the arc with two players over 42%. Once more the perimeter defense will be spotlighted and hopefully not grossly exposed as they were during the first 20 minutes of the Valpo game. When you consider that UNC should easily dominate the boards it becomes important for the defense to step up make shooting difficult in an effort to create missed shots which can be converted to transition points. I would expect Kent St. will do what everyone else tries to do and slow the tempo to get the game into the sixties and seventies. This is not really a concern since UNC has shown the ability to win such a game and in some cases push the tempo anyway.
This is the next to last non-conference game for the Heels and their last chance to tune-up before playing their biggest game of the season so far at Clemson on Sunday.
UNC 93 Kent St. 70