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Tale of the Tape: UNC vs Kentucky

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

A very interesting statistical match-up.

North Carolina Kentucky
Conference ACC SEC
Record 6-2 10-0
KenPom Rank 14th 1st
Points per game 81.4 75.4
Adj. Off. Efficiency(Rank) 107.6(35th) 112.8(4th)
Ad. Def. Efficiency(Rank) 89.2(12th) 83.3(1st)
Tempo(Rank) 72.5(10th) 65.3(222nd)
Offensive eFG% 48.3% 50.4%
Defensive eFG% 38.1% 33.5%
Field Goal % 44.9% 46.6%
3P FG% 28.0% 27.7%
Offensive Reb Rate 43.0% 46.3%
Defensive Reb Rate 63.8% 68.9%
TO Rate 16.9% 16.5%
FT Rate 41.4% 39.7%

There are two numbers that jump right off the chart. The first is defensive efficiency. UNC has been good at 89.2, Kentucky has been ridiculous at 83.3. Kentucky's number, if it were to hold, would be the best DE in the KenPom era beating 2009 Memphis(also coached by John Calipari) which finished with an 85.1. UNC's 89.2 is the best of the Roy Williams era beating 2011's 90.4 so far. Williams' 2003 Kansas team posted a DE of 88.1. These are two teams that play defense really well.

That stat makes the next one very interesting. Kentucky and UNC are ranked 1st and 3rd respectively in ORB%. Both teams are also shooting 28% or worse from three point range. So while both teams may struggle to hit shots both teams also collected their own misses at an astounding rate. On the flip side, UNC has struggled on the defensive glass while Kentucky has been average at best.

The key to this game could come down to UNC's forcing the tempo and getting transition baskets before Kentucky can setup its defense. UK, despite having nine McDonald's All-Americans prefers to play like a B1G school with a tempo ranked 222nd.  Kentucky has topped 70 possessions four times in ten games and been under 60 possessions twice. UNC's lowest possession game was 62 versus Iowa followed by 69 against Florida. The remaining six games have ranged from 73-77 possessions good for 10th nationally. The tempo could be key as could the free throw shooting. UNC has been a respectable 69.8% as a team with the average being weighed a bit by the 56% shooting vs Butler. Kentucky is shooting 65% as a team.

This is an interesting match-up given UNC's offensive struggles and while Kentucky is 4th in offensive efficiency, that raw number is actually really down compared to previous seasons at that ranking. Which is to say, whichever team can generate some offense at a consistent rate, probably wins the game. Looking at the numbers doing that appears to bank heavily on throwing shots up and grabbing the misses.