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UNC vs. Boston College: Beyond the Box

The most important numbers to come out of yesterdays' game? 20 and 10. As in North Carolina now has 20 wins overall and 10 in the ACC, and whenever you can get to those plateaus before the last week in February, you know you are doing something right. With this team, there is no question that that, "something," is certainly their effort on defense. However, on offense, the team has been perfectly Jekyll and Hyde and the major question that remains is which (if either) is more indicative of what will be seen the rest of the season. In its 12 ACC games, UNC has had an OE over 102.0 six times (average OE: 118.5), and been under 99.0 six times (average OE: 89.8). So which is it? Are they the good offensive team, which had an OE that would rival any of Roy's greatest teams, or are they the horrible offensive team that would struggle to match the 2002 team's efficiency? Or, are they somewhere in between (average OE: 104.4)? Quite frankly, given the level of defense that this team is capable of, "somewhere in between" is probably good enough for them to be very dangerous in March. Now they just need to learn how to get to (and stay at) that level consistently.

Four Factors

Positives from this game start and end with the defense.  UNC held one of the most efficient offenses in the nation (Kenpom Rank: 12) to, by far, their worst offensive performance of the season, as the Eagles were held to season's lows in OE (79.3; previous low: 87.9), eFG% (33.7; previous low: 43.3), and floor percentage (38.3; previous low: 41.4).  Unfortunately for the Tar Heels, every bit of that defensive effort was needed, for as good as they were on defense, they were equally putrid on offense, as UNC produced its second worst OE of the season (82.8) and only its 3rd OE less than 90.0 (both losses).

To start the second half, the Heels appeared to have things straightened out, as they scored 24 points in their first 19 possessions (OE: 126.3).  However, they then proceeded to turn the ball over on 5 of their next 6 possessions, and ended up closing out the games' final 10 possessions with an OE of 30.0.  Given the tremendous job the team has done in controlling turnovers this season, and particularly of late, it is probable that this sequence was more of a fluke than anything, but come March, a poorly timed fluke can certainly mean an abrupt end to the season (e.g. 1st-half against KU in the 2008 Final Four).

Statistical Highlights

  • Carolina was held to a season's low FTR (FTA/FGA) of 14.o (previous low: 24.1).  This is particularly surprising when you consider that 58.3% of their points were non-transition, points-in-the-paint.
  • Yesterday's game snapped an 8-game streak in which the Heels had a TO% less than 20.0 (22.3).  Subtracting out the stretch where the Heels lost the ball on 5 of 6 possessions, their TO% drops to 15.4, which is much more in line with what they had done over the previous 8 games.
  • Yesterday was also the first time that UNC has been held to less than 60 possessions (58) since they beat BC in the 2007 ACC Tournament, and it is only the 3rd time it has happened since Roy Williams has been the head coach (Air Force in the 2004 NCAA Tournament).
  • Tyler Zeller lead the team in Roland Rating (+18), while Reggie Bullock had the lowest score on the team (-23).

Beyond the Box Player of the Game

Before getting to the POG for the BC game, let’s first take a look at the top five ORtgs for the Tar Heels (minimum possession percentage: 10% or minimum minutes percentage: 80.0):

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The Player of the Game was really decided during the first 4 minutes of the second-half, as Tyler Zeller came out of the break demanding (and working to get) the ball in a way that was reminiscent of Tyler Hansbrough's play (who was fittingly present) in 2008 after the injury to Ty Lawson.  Zeller scored the team's first 7 points of the second half, and for the game, he led the Tar Heels in ORtg (104.5), floor % (59.6), and OR% (18.5).  Perhaps most importantly, Zeller also lead the team in shot % (30.4), after finishing a distant 6th in the last game.  For the most part, Zeller has been the Tar Heels' one, consistent, offensive threat this season and continuing to maximize his ability to touch the ball in a scoring position would certainly be a good start towards getting the offense to that "somewhere in the middle"-place more consistently.

Beyond the Box Player of the Year

The BTB POY is based on a points system in which a player gets 10 points for being named the POG and 3 points for having a top five ORtg, with a 2 point bonus for having the top ORtg.   What follows are the updated standings through the team’s first 26 games.

[table id=87 /]

Note: For reference, a full stats glossary can be found at