What: Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational Championship
When: Saturday, November 26th, 10:30 PM
Where: Orleans Arena, Las Vegas, NV
Records: UNC 5-0; UNLV 6-0
What a full 24 hours of UNC athletics.
UNC will play UNLV in the championship game of the Las Vegas Invitational, the first of three games against teams in KenPom's top 15. UNLV comes in 6-0 and will provide a solid challenge for the top ranked Heels. While UNC has been content to methodically control teams, playing a probably NCAA Tournament team in what is essentially a road game will put the onus on the Heels to bring their "A" game.
This game will also constitute the first time the Heels have had their interior defense truly tested. UNLV is lead by UCLA transfer Mike Moser who comes in averaging 15.0 ppg and 13.0 rpg. Moser's prolific rebounding is almost 1/3 of the rebounding production for the Rebels. Containing Moser will be key and also an interesting matchup. He is only 6-8, 195 lbs and in general UNLV employs a smaller lineup with four players registering three point shooting percentages of 36, 42, 47. Not generally something UNC fans like to see given nature of the Heels' perimeter defense at times. In general this team presents a bit of a matchup issue for the Heels. Tyler Zeller and John Henson will be called on at times to guard smaller players. Dexter Strickland's role in this game as a defensive stopper could not be more important as will Kendall Marshall's ability to keep opposing guards in front of them.
There is also a chance UNLV will look to run with the Heels a bit. KenPom has them 67th in tempo with the Heels ranked 5th. In general I like UNC in a transition game because I believe Roy Williams does a great job coaching it, his teams are very well conditioned and factors like Zeller's ability to run the floor give the Heels an edge. UNC has always struck me as simply better at it in general so when teams try to run with UNC they appear to be not quite equipped to fully handle it. At any rate, while I expect a tough battle in this game I also think this will be a case where the Heels elevate their game to match the competition to start a very tough week on non-conference contests.
UNC 95 UNLV 79