The story of this game is pretty simple: LIU had a NEC-frontline. UNC has a NBA-frontline. Harrison Barnes, John Henson, and Tyler Zeller were as dominant as you will ever see a trio of front court players be in a college game and there was really nothing LIU could do to stop them. Was it closer than we would have liked? Probably. But for a team with a total of 47 minutes of NCAA Tournament experience, I'll take the 15-point victory against a team that hasn't lost since January (and should have been a 13-seed) and run.
Survive and advance.
Looking through the boxscore, the first thing that jumped out at me is that UNC's TO% was actually pretty good (19.4%). This is a good demonstration on why raw numbers can be misleading. Yes, UNC's 18 turnovers may seem like a lot, but considering that the game had an amazing 93.0 possessions (3rd most in a non-OT game between two DI opponents this season), a larger number of turnovers (and everything else) is to be expected. What was more disturbing than the actual number of turnovers, was the fact that most were unforced, and many came in the open court (off of unnecessarily long passes) and allowed LIU to get 19 easy points off of turnovers. Despite those 19 points, UNC's overall defensive numbers were not too bad, producing a defensive efficiency of 93.5 (season average: 93.7) and holding LIU to an eFG% of 41.2 (season average: 45.9). Again, 87 points is a lot in a 70-possession game; it is not a lot in a 93-possession game.
Offensively, while the Heels output (OE: 109.7; eFG%: 53.0) was above their seasonal average, it would have been much better were it not for a 3-17 performance from behind the line. Given UNC's enormous advantage in the post, the 3 part is fine; it is the 17 part that needs working on. Given UNC's 2PT% (62.0), FTR (62.7) and FT% (73.8) yesterday, forgoing 7 of those 3PA for a shot at a 2-point look would have yielded UNC an additional 7-8 points and given the Heels a much more comfortable 22-23 point win (not even taking into consideration the points LIU scored off of long rebounds).
- John Henson (8-10) continued his incredible transformation from the line. Over the last month (8 games), Henson is shooting 74.4% (29-39) from the line.
- After averaging 10 shots and 5 turnovers per game in the ACCT, Kendall Marshall had only 2 of each against the Blackbirds, and had an outstanding ORtng of 246.5 (did not qualify for Top-5 consideration).
- Their is a very telling story in the Roland Ratings from yesterday's game. Marshall led the team with a score of +33, but all five starters had scores of +13 or better. The scores for Watts, Knox and McDonald were, -23, -25, and -31, respectively.
Beyond the Box Player of the Game
Before getting to the POG, 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):
[table id=108 /]
It would have been very easy (lazy) to just go ahead and declare that UNC's frontline of Barnes, Henson and Zeller would be splitting the POG honors three-ways, and perhaps, that would have even been the correct thing to do. Instead, I have decided that Tyler Zeller should be the sole recipient, for not only did Zeller lead the team in scoring, ORtg, eFG%, TS%, Floor% (75.7) and FTR (135.7!), but he did so while also having a team-low TO% (10.0). More importantly, when the team was looking to drive the final nails in the coffin, it was Tyler Zeller who they used as the hammer. Over the last 10:41 of game time, Tyler Zeller scored 20 of UNC 29 points (and he sat for nearly 3 of those minutes)! That is Wilt Chamberlain-like output, and that is what ultimately swayed my decision to name Tyler Zeller as the sole Player of the Game.
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.
[table id=109 /]