North Carolina vs Davidson, 2:00 PM, Time Warner Sports Channel
This is the "Play a Team Just Before Heading to the Tropical Paradise Tournament" game. Other games in this series include Long Beach State in 2012, UCSB in 2008 and *gulp* Santa Clara in 2004. The Tar Heels are set to play in the Bahamas starting on Wednesday so this game with Davidson is UNC's last tune up before facing a very tough field in the Battle 4 Atlantis. It also serves as UNC's first game away from the Dean Dome, a neutral court affair for the freshman to get an initial taste of life on the road. That being said the crowd is likely to be very pro-UNC since it's being played in Charlotte.
Davidson will be the first of two games this week which will put the Tar Heels' perimeter defense to the test. The Wildcats, in games against Division III school Catholic University and Campbell, are shooting 25-50 from three. Davidson hit 15 against Catholic and 10 in a 86-51 win over Campbell. 38% of Davidson's field goal attempts came from behind the arc in its first two games.
The biggest concern for UNC will be Davidson junior Brian Sullivan. Last season, in UNC's overtime win over the Wildcats in Chapel Hill, Sullivan scored 33 points and was 7-14 from three. It was one of five games last season Sullivan hit five or more threes. Davidson will be undersized against UNC's long perimeter players but at the same time have a pair of 6-9 players that can shoot threes. 6-9 Jake Belford shot 47%(17-36) from three last season and 6-9 freshman Oskar Michelson hit 3-4 in the Wildcats' win versus Campbell.
Davidson is a well coached team. Bob McKillop generally does a great job of having his team prepared to play and gets the most out of his team despite having an inferior talent. Simply put, the Wildcats will execute and take care of the basketball. Over the previous four seasons Davidson hasn't had a turnover rate worse than 17.1%. That being said, Davidson likely doesn't face many teams with the length UNC has this season.
Offensively UNC should be able to function though it stands to reason Davidson is going to use some zone defense to prevent the Tar Heels from operating on the interior. Given Davidson's three point shooting, the Tar Heels getting some measure of perimeter shooting in this game would be helpful assuming the middle is clogged. Davidson isn't a slow tempo team but not as fast as UNC either. Still there could be an opportunity to speed the game up, especially if the Tar Heels can force turnovers.
This is technically not a trap game but it is certainly one where the Tar Heel players might not be focused on the team in front of them. The combination of that and a game away from Chapel Hill may make this a little dicey. A bit of a struggle here wouldn't be wholly unexpected but in the end UNC's talent and size should be too much for the Wildcats to handle.
UNC 83 Davidson 70