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#8 UNC vs Lipscomb

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Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Friday, November 12th, 7:00 PM
TV: Fox Sports South
Records: Season opener for both teams

Here we go!

No more hype. No more speculation. No more talking about last season, redemption and the price of coffee at Starbucks. As Larry Drew said on Thursday, it is time for less talk about what the Heels are going to do and actually doing it, which includes burying opposing teams at the very start. I, for one, welcome that kind of mentality.

First up on the menu for UNC is by no means a pushover. Lipscomb returns all five starters from a team that was regular season c0-champions in the Atlantic Sun Conference. The Bisons failed to win the conference tournament and missed out on the automatic bid. Despite that, any team with five returning starters is someone you ought to pay attention to even if they are from a low major league. Lipscomb is lead by senior big man Adnan Hodzic who was the Atlantic Sun Player of the Year in 2010. Hadzic averaged 22.7 ppg, 9.1 rpg and shot 60% from the floor. He is also 6-8, 245 lbs giving the UNC frontline a test in their first game handling a player with some bulk on him. On the perimeter, UNC will have a couple of players to be concerned with. Point guard Josh Slater averaged 17.1 ppg and 5.2 apg last season while shooting 37% from three point range. Slater also had 1.9 spg which puts UNC on notice for ball security. Alongside Slater is junior Jordan Burgason whose 43% three point shooting on 219 attempts led the Bisons a year ago. Obviously the Heels will need to be balanced and working together on defense since Lipscomb has nice offensive balance. The Bisons are rounded out with some solid role players who are all upperclassman and have played together for awhile. Low major teams have a tendency to have great on the court chemistry and be well coached in the fundamentals making them a nightmare at times for elite schools. We see schools, like Lipscomb, shake the trees in the NCAA Tournament all the time. UNC better have its guard up.

On UNC's side, all attention will be on Harrison Barnes to see if he plays at the level everyone is expecting. The exhibition performance has been called just a "bad game" by Barnes. Roy Williams said Barnes had an excellent practice on Wednesday which, in Roy's mind, means you will play well in the game. I think the bad performance last week helped Barnes. He got it out of the way and permitted him to refocus. I will be shocked if Barnes plays poorly versus Lipscomb. It will be interesting to see how Kendal Marshall, Leslie McDonald and Justin Watts respond when the lights are really on. The little things UNC gets from these three, especially Watts and McDonald, could be huge down the line. Roy said he is likely rolling out the same starting lineup as last Friday vs Barton which is Larry Drew, Dexter Strickland, Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller. I anticipate liberal substitution patterns from Roy as he gets a handle on the personnel.

UNC will have an edge on talent so while I expect Lipscomb to be a challenge I also expect UNC to use that edge to assume control of the game. Then again, UNC has not always been at its best in season openers, even when you had Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson hanging around. Perhaps this will be different but at any rate, basketball is here so let's sit back and enjoy the ride.

UNC 88 Lipscomb 65