North Carolina vs Miami, 9:00 PM, ESPN2
UNC looks to return to the land of the winning follow a disappointing loss at Wake Forest on Sunday. At the same time the Tar Heels hope to avoid an 0-2 ACC start with a trip the #2 Syracuse looming this weekend. Barring any additional complications, UNC also sees Joel James return to the lineup after missing most of five games with a sprained MCL. Given how poorly Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson have played as starters at the five, there is a strong possibility James reclaims his spot unless Roy Williams wants to ease him in by bringing him off the bench.
This game obviously gets the "bounce back" treatment seeing that UNC has not endured many losing streaks in the Roy Williams era. Losing two or more consecutive games has happened 10 times and half of those can be found in the 2010 and 2013 season, also known the only true "down" seasons in Williams UNC tenure. In those 10+ seasons, UNC is 27-6 in home games following a loss which includes a 6-4 mark during the 2010 season. To say UNC bounces back well is a bit of an understatement and at home they do so particularly well.
As far as the bounce-back watch goes with individuals players, Marcus Paige will get plenty of attention coming off his first truly awful game of the season. Paige simply didn't play well in any phase of the game. While it is easy to focus on his shooting numbers, the bigger concern was the four turnovers. The Wake Forest game marked the third time this season Paige has turned the ball over four or more times. He had five miscues in the loss to Belmont and four in the win over Louisville. Paige having a bad shooting night is problematic. Paige not shooting well and turning the ball over is a major issue. That being said, the expectation is Paige will return to form in this game.
The player that might be a bigger concern is Leslie McDonald. The fifth year senior had been fairly effective since returning from a nine game suspension. He hit four threes in the loss to Texas and in his first four games posted offensive efficiency ratings of 110 or better while averaging 12.2 ppg. Like Paige, McDonald had his first truly unproductive game against Wake Forest. As a player with a reputation of not being a consistent scorer in the "games that matter" seeing how McDonald bounces back is worth watching.
UNC has had struggles this season rebounding the basketball, even against teams they should dominate. Of course, given the unpredictable nature of this team, UNC naturally had a huge game on the offensive glass against a Wake Forest team that went into game with a solid defensive rebounding rate. Like Wake Forest, Miami is one of the better defensive rebounding teams in the ACC so far this season. The Tar Heels will need to contend with that element but more important than simply getting offensive rebounds, the Tar Heels really need to learn to finish at the rim. There is nothing wrong with the offense getting some production out of missed shots, especially given this team simply doesn't have consistent shooting.
UNC 71 Miami 56