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Tale of the Tape: UNC-Iowa State

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UNC vs Iowa State by the numbers

North Carolina Iowa State
Seed #6 #3
NCAA Bid At-large Automatic
Record 24-9 27-7
Conference ACC Big 12
Conference Record 13-5(T-3rd) 11-7(T-3rd)
KenPom Rank 26th 20th
Points per game 76.4 83.2
Adj. Offensive Efficiency(Rank) 111.9(41st) 117.5(10th)
Adj. Defensive Efficiency(Rank) 95.3(23rd) 98.9(59th)
Tempo(Rank) 70.7(20th) 71.4(15th)
Offensive eFG% 49.7% 54.3%
Defensive eFG% 46.8% 47.2%
Field Goal % 46.3% 47.6%
3P FG% 33.3% 35.5%
Offensive Reb Rate 38.3% 28.4%
Defensive Reb Rate 68.7% 71.5%
TO Rate 17.0% 14,4%
FT Rate 43.6% 37.0%
KenPom win probability ISU 53%

Stats via KenPom and StatSheet

It is a rare game indeed where UNC is actually ranked below its opponent in adjusted tempo. This is such a game. After spending ACC play facing the slowest tempo conference in the country, the Tar Heels will play against a team that is happy to get up and down the court. Normally this would be suicide for an opponent to want to run with UNC even if they are accustomed to doing so. The issue here is UNC's offense isn't quite at the normal historical levels for a Roy Williams team. In addition, UNC defense hasn't been great lately and transition defense could be a concern against a team full of athletes like Iowa State has.  The upside for UNC a higher tempo is crucial to overcoming the relative inconsistency of the offense providing the defense doesn't give too much away on the other end.

UNC's offensive rebounding returned to form against Providence with the Heels posting a nice, fat 55.3% offensive rebounding rate on Friday night. Iowa State is 46th nationally in defensive rebounding rate but facing some size disadvantage against the Tar Heels. In theory UNC should seize control of the boards on both ends which could go a long way towards limiting Iowa State's chances. Against Providence UNC took 19 more shots than the Friars thanks in large part to dominance of the offensive glass. The next step in that would be to convert more of those chances.

With UNC's defense being a concern, the fact Iowa State shoots 55% from two is a red flag. One reason for that is ISU tends to eschew the mid-range jumper. According to Shot Analytics, the Cyclones only take 8% of their shots in the mid-range area of the floor opting for looks in the paint or beyond the arc. From three ISU is a decent 35.5% as a team and the loss of Georges Niang doesn't hurt them that much. Niang led the team in attempts but was shooting just 32% from three despite making 4-5 against NC Central on Friday night. The fact Iowa State doesn't take as many mid-range shots goes a long way towards explaining the gaudy 55% shooting on two pointers in general.