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#5 UNC vs Appalachian St.

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Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Saturday, December 17th, 6:00 PM
TV: ESPNU
Records: UNC 8-2; App St. 4-5

Time to shake the rust off.

UNC comes off exam break with a much easier opponent to face than last season when Long Beach St. was the opposition following  a week of studying and test taking. That probably means we will not see a crisp game from the Heels but against the 255th ranked team in KenPom's rankings, I don't think it will much matter.

In fact, the only really interesting aspect to this game is the Mountaineers' head coach. Former Tar Heel Jason Capel makes his return to Chapel Hill where he was part of some of the darkest days in Tar Heel basketball history. Taking that into consideration, his reception by the Smith Center crowd for this game might be more favorable than it was in 2002. There are really two people who are held as symbols of the 8-20 season. Matt Doherty is one and Capel is the other. Both were and are treated more harshly than is probably acceptable given both are a part of the Carolina family. We still have not reached a point where Doherty can publicly return to Chapel Hill.This game will be Capel's chance albeit while coaching the opposing team.

App St is your classic middle of the pack Southern Conference team with almost no chance of winning this game. The offense and defense are both ranked in the mid-200s with a incredibly bad turnover rate of 29.1%. Unlike some of UNC's other mid-major opponents, App St. actually boasts some size including a seven footer on the roster. Isaac Butts is a 6-10, 285 senior which makes him at least 30 lbs heavier than Tyler Zeller. How physical the Moutaineers end up being is the real question but I imagine one of two things happen. Either App St runs into foul trouble or the transition game takes their interior size out of the game. App St. also does a modest job shooting the three, a 35% clip as a team with Jamaal Trice and Rodney Milim shooting 45% and 39% respectively.

In the end this will be about UNC getting back into the swing of playing with three games in a five day span. Shake off the rust and use the next two games to get primed to play Texas on Wednesday night.

UNC 104 App St 68