Roy Williams has a good luck tradition of spitting in the Mississippi River. He's done in advance of the 1982, 2005 and 2009 championship games, and possibly some other times at Kansas that didn't result in cutting down the nets. We can't be sure the Tar Heels' schedule will take them by the river this season, so I guess this might be insurance; Carolina did the karmic equivalent of spitting in the Mississippi today.
Not that they spit on the Delta Devils; that would be unsportsmanlike. But they tore them apart pretty well, and did so while Williams experimented with lineups, and gave the second team of mostly freshman playing time with the score close. UNC responded to the chance for experience, with six players scoring in double figures, and ten getting at least eight minutes of playing time.
Start with what Carolina did well. Rebounding as strong, as expected. They forced 21 turnovers, kept the game uptempo, and kept the fouls to a minimum. And most importantly, for the third straight game, they kept their opponent's three-point percentage below 30%. Smaller teams – and that's going to describe most of the ones UNC meets – are going to try to shoot over the Heels, and if the perimeter defense can stifle that, the team should be nigh unbeatable.
Unless they have their own shooting problems, as they did today, both from behind the arc and at the free throw line. UNC was a dismal 16 of 31 at the charity stripe, with three players missing all of their attempts. Only three had a respectable showing – Dexter Strickland, James McAdoo, and surprisingly, John Henson. Similarly, they were cold from three-point range, missing 13 of their first 15 tries. It was only in the last three minutes that Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston hit a few to make things look respectable.
Still, there's not much you can complain about with a twenty-six point win that gets the crowd chanting about biscuits. This plus Tuesday's game should get the team ready for their Thanksgiving tournament in Las Vegas and the rough stretch that follows it. The team has some weak areas, but they should be easily fixed. And I'm a little more comfortable with how the team will look in a year or two, as well.