Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, January 31st, 7:45 PM
TV: Fox Sports
Live Stats: SCACC Hoops
Records: UNC 13-7, 2-3 ACC; UVa 12-6, 3-2 ACC
Step one was breaking out of the three game funk that imperiled the season. Step two is to sustain the effort and win the next game. Virginia comes in as one of the many surprises in the ACC. Of course every team in the ACC has surprised people and not always in a good way. UVa was one of the pleasant ones starting our 3-0 while collecting a win over Georgia Tech. Since then the Cavs lost at Wake Forest and then at home to Virginia Tech in overtime. Coming off two losses, UVa represents a dangerous opponent for a team still getting its footing.
Playing the Cavaliers comes down to two points. The first is handling 17 ppg scorer Sylven Landesberg. The sophomore has experienced no drop-off from his freshman campaign and will be the focus on the Tar Heel defense. Landesberg is a big guard at 6-6 and also rebounds fairly well at 5.1 rpg. The other element of playing UVa is their style. Tony Bennett took over in Charlottesville in the offseason and brought with him that more deliberate style of basketball UNC faced in the 2008 Sweet Sixteen against Bennett's then Washington St. team. According to Pomeroy, UVa has the 304th ranked tempo in the nation with an adjusted total of 64.2 possessions per game. That is almost 10 fewer possessions than UNC averages(12th in the nation.) If UNC gets roped into UVa's pace, a distinct possibility for a UNC team that has had trouble controlling games, it would mean the Heels efficiency in the half court set would be monumentally important.
The leading question for UNC fans is whether Roy Williams will begin playing Dexter Strickland with Larry Drew more and curtail Marcus Ginyard's minutes given the senior's general lack of productivity. Knowing Roy, I doubt it happens this game since he is going to want to put Ginyard on Landesberg believing he is the best option to guard the Cavalier star. Like the NCSU game, UNC needs to use the post players to dominate the game, especially if it is a half court affair. Hopefully aggressive and strong Deon Thompson shows up.
One possible factor. The Triangle area of North Carolina has about five inches of snow on the ground and freezing temps all day Sunday. NCSU saw about 1000 people show up for their 2 PM game on Saturday versus NCCU. The possibility the crowd is a little thinner than normal exists. Hopefully it will not take away from the Heels' home court advantage.
UNC 74 UVa 65