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Tale of the Tape: UNC-Kentucky

Liz Condo-USA TODAY Sports

Here is how the Tar Heels match up statistically with the soon to be 40-0, 39-1, ???? Kentucky Wildcats.

North Carolina Kentucky
Conference ACC SEC
Record 6-2 8-2
KenPom Rank 7th 9th
Points per game 77.5 80.8
Points per possession 1.08 1.18
Offensive Efficiency(Rank) 113.9(16th) 117.8(4th)
Defensive Efficiency(Rank) 92.8(8th) 95.7(41st)
Tempo(Rank) 70.5(89th) 69.2(126th)
Offensive eFG% 50.1% 53.1%
Defensive eFG% 44.1% 40.8%
Field Goal % 47.7% 48.3%
3P FG% 29.5% 32.5%
Offensive Reb Rate 38.1% 46.1%
Defensive Reb Rate 71.2% 67.4%
TO Rate 18.0% 19.3%
FT Rate 46.9% 61.2%
KenPom win probability UNC 66%

Stats sources: KenPom and Statsheet

Given UNC is ranked 329th in experience this is one of the rare games where the Tar Heels will face a team less experienced than they are. In Kentucky's case they are the least experienced team in the country but could still end up in the Final Four which tells you a little bit about where college basketball is at right now. For the record, UNC has three other teams left on the schedule with less experience: NC State, Northern Kentucky and Texas.

The lack of experience means both teams are prone to be inconsistent at times as they develop. UNC and Kentucky also have the common theme of a group of players who have never really played together much, learning to do that in the fly. That also lends itself to up and down play not to mention the occasional inexplicable loss.

Concerning the actual basketball numbers, Kentucky has size and it shows. The Wildcats are #1 in offensive rebounding rate, fourth in offensive efficiency and sixth in free throw rate. That is clear indicator that the Wildcats have talented big men and play to their strength. Kentucky also is seventh in block percentage on the defensive end and hold teams to 40.8% effective FG% which is the best in the country. As you might expect with great interior defense, opposing teams are only shooting 38.4% from two against the Wildcats which is second overall.

What all that means is this is a strength-on-strength game. UNC, like Kentucky, doesn't shoot the three well but in the Tar Heels' case they REALLY don't shoot the three well. The team's 29.5% shooting from three is 294th overall. UNC is dead last in three point attempts as a percentage of overall field goal attempts at 16.2%. Only 11% of UNC's points come from three pointers(also last) and 86% of those points have been from Marcus Paige solely. All of that means UNC will look inside for most of its scoring which makes this a very tough matchup for UNC offensively speaking. The Tar Heels rely on two point shooting and Kentucky is very good at stopping that. And if UNC decides to have a bad day at the free throw line it could be worse though the Wildcats are 15th in free throw rate allowed.

This game could come down to UNC's defense slowing down the fourth ranked offense in the country. UNC is 8th in the defensive efficiency and solid across the board in the relevant defensive numbers. More specificall, it will be a contest of how well UNC defends, especially on the interior, without fouling too much. Given Kentucky's size and free throw rate, keeping UNC bigs out of foul trouble while still playing effective defense could be the foremost thing to watch as this game unfolds.