What: ACC Quarterfinals
Where: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC
TV: ACC Network/ESPN2
Records: UNC 24-6; Miami 19-13
ACC Tournament Results: UNC: Bye; Miami: Def. UVa 69-62(OT)
After suffering through a Thursday night game last season, it feels really good to see UNC back playing the noon game as the #1 seed in the ACC Tournament. Now let's see if they can do something with it because it seems to me that the only way Duke is not going to keep winning the ACC Championship is if UNC does something about. That starts in this game versus a Miami team that was dead versus Virginia in the first round. When I say dead I mean asystole on the EKG. According to Bill James' safe lead calculator, UVa's 10 point lead with 42 seconds left constituted a 100% safe lead. The game should have been over except the Cavaliers soiled the proverbial bed in a series of mistakes that really had to be seen to be believed. Miami ultimately won in overtime and now face the Heels.
So what has changed since these two meet early in the ACC season? The biggest two changes are Some Other Kid leaving and Reggie Bullock injuring his knee. Bullock was a key in the game at Miami. UNC fell behind early on a flurry of threes by the Hurricanes but rallied to tie the game at halftime in part due to Bullock's shooting. Some Other Kid played 18 minutes and had four points, five assists. Marshall played 22 minutes but was in at the end of the game to deliver the pass to Barnes for the game winning three. As we discussed, losing Bullock is not a huge deal considering his play had dropped off significantly. Marshall playing most of the PG minutes without SOK makes UNC a difference team than what Miami saw two months ago.
Miami will be a tough match-up for UNC. The Canes have a large, physical center complimented with a guard heavy look at the other positions. Containing Reggie Johnson will be problematic for Tyler Zeller who will be giving 60-70 pounds. Also, if Miami goes guard heavy it could pull John Henson away from the basket and force him to guard a smaller player. The match-up will be a challenge but not one that UNC can't and shouldn't handle as they did in the regular season game. The Heels have made their bones this season playing great defense and this game should be no different versus an offense that scored all of 10 points for most of the 2nd half before going nuts while UVa folded. On the offensive end, UNC simply needs to keep rolling with the type of play they have had over the past couple of games. UNC had good nights on offense versus both FSU and Duke despite both teams being in the top ten nationally for defensive efficiency.
The biggest issue facing this team is how they handle tournament play and coming out versus a team who got their first game out of the way. These Tar Heels have shown the ability to focus and seem to crave the big stage. At the same time, UNC also has a tendency at times to play down to the competition. If the Duke game on Saturday night is an indication I think we are in for the focused version of this team which has individuals really step their game up. Barnes, in particular, takes his game up a level when the stage gets bigger. The same could be said for both Marshall and Henson. The bottom line is this team has reached a point of almost perfect chemistry. They are a close group and in tournament play, having that kind of camaraderie can be a huge boost.
Plus, Roy said they were coming to win it and I have no reason to think he didn't mean it.
UNC 84 Miami 67