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#11 UNC vs Nevada

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, November 29th, 6:45 PM
TV: Fox Sports
Live Stats: SCACC Hoops
Records: UNC 5-1; Nevada 2-2

UNC has had four days of practice since the win over Gardner-Webb which Roy Williams was hoping would be extremely productive in terms of team development. Obviously this game is important for testing that development out and getting the Heels confidence before heading through the gauntlet of Michigan St. and Kentucky during the coming week. At the same time Nevada should not be taken lightly despite their 2-2 mark. The Wolf Pack are probably better than Gardner-Webb or even Valpo with a fairly efficient offense averaging 84.5 ppg. Nevada's weak spot. Their defense which gives up 83.3 ppg.

Nevada is led by center Luke Babbitt who scored 22 points against UNC last season on 8-14 shooting. This season Babbit is averaging 20.3 ppg and 10.8 rpg. Needless to say Babbitt will be a legitimate test for UNC's frontline defense. If memory serves Babbitt is a versatile big man who can operate anywhere on the court which puts pressure on whoever draws him to play him straight up in the post or be able to slide their feet if he decides to put the ball on the floor. Point guard Armon Johnson also played in the game against UNC last season and scored 15. This season Johnson is averaging 15.5 ppg and dishing out 5.8 apg. That would make Johnson the lynch pin of the Wolf Pack offense especially since his A/TO ratio is only 1.44. Johnson has had games with six and five turnovers. If the Heels can "Evan Turner" him so much the better. Nevada does not appear to be dependent much on the three averaging 17 attempts per game from beyond the arc. Still the shots they do take, they make at a 38% clip.

For the Heels there are two things to watch: The first is the rotation. Roy indicated after the win over Gardner-Webb that he would begin paring down the rotation to 8-9 players. I imagine we will begin to see that in earnest, especially with the games UNC has coming up. It would be best to have the rotation somewhat shored up before facing potential Final Four teams. The question is who starts seeing a drop in their playing time. Will Graves? One of the Wear Twins? That aspect will be something to keep an eye on. The second item to watch would be personnel combinations on the floor. Roy experimented with Dexter Strickland at the two alongside Larry Drew last Monday. That struck me as effective. Talentwise, Strickland is the best guard UNC has right now. He is quick and can create his own shot not to mention Strickland is very athletic. While he still needs to get acclimated running the point guard, his play at the two could be a benefit. It will be interesting to see how often we see Drew and Strickland in the backcourt with Marcus Ginyard sliding over to the three.

UNC 95 Nevada 70