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Game Preview: #5 UNC vs #18 Florida

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Battle 4 Atlantis: North Carolina vs Florida, 8:00 PM, AXS TV

As poorly as UNC played against Butler, the Tar Heels redeemed the first two days with a dominant win over UCLA. Coupled with the rest of the game so far this season, the loss to Butler may end up being an outlier born from UNC's lack of focus in that game. Florida, on the other hand, has struggled in every game this season except the opener versus William & Mary. Some of that struggle is owed to a rash of injuries. The other part of it is Florida just doesn't shoot the ball well and with the nation's 319th ranked tempo, games will be closer affairs.

In facing UNC, Florida would love nothing better than to register a win over a quality team and get the season back on track after going 2-2 in the past four games. Florida's offense is key by the Gator backcourt. 6-4 guard Michael Frazier leads the team with 14.5 ppg and is the team's third best rebounder with six boards per contest. Eli Carter is averaging 11.6 ppg which included a 21 point outing against Miami. Carter missed Florida's win over UAB after scoring just six points the loss to Georgetown. Outside of the backcourt, Dorrian Finney-Smith is the Gators' second leading scorer at 12.3 ppg. Finney-Smith began his college career at Virginia Tech and has one career game versus the Tar Heels. Finney-Smith scored two points and was 0-5 from the floor in UNC's 82-68 win over the Hokies in 2012.

Given UNC's struggles rebounding the basketball against Butler, that will continue to be an area of focus. Florida doesn't have any prolific rebounders by average or offensive/defensive rebounding rate. Chris Walker is Florida's best offensive rebounder with a 16..7% rate while Jon Horford collects 18.8% of defensive rebounds. Conversely, Kennedy Meeks has a defensive rebounding rate of 25% and Brice Johnson is at 18.7%. Isaiah Hicks could be the X factor.