North Carolina vs Notre Dame, 7:00 PM, ESPN(Sean McDonough, Jay Bilas)
Senior Night in Chapel Hill. This will be the final home games for fifth year senior Leslie McDonald and three walk-ons, Denzel Robinson, Wade Moody and James Manor. Per UNC tradition those four players will comprise four-fifths of the Tar Heel starting lineup. In all likelihood the fifth starting spot will go to Marcus Paige since it makes sense to have a player on the floor who is capable running the offense. Roy Williams used similar thinking in 2011 when he started Kendall Marshall alongside Justin Knox and three senior walk-ons.
Historically speaking UNC has seen a lot of success on Senior Day/Night games. According to Jones Angell, UNC is 48-12 in the ACC era in the final home game of the regular season. Roy Williams' first loss on Senior Night in two decades plus of being a head coach came last season vs Duke. Winning the last home game for the seniors has always been a point of emphasis for Roy Williams. He has generally put the responsibility on the underclassmen to send the seniors out with a win. This emphasis led Ty Lawson to play versus Duke in 2009 despite having and injured toe and needing a painkilling injection to get through the game.
These types of games can also lead to players being a little too amped up for their own good. It is not unusual for players to press a little in an effort to play at a higher level. Non-Duke Senior Night games are especially interesting because they do not include the added layer of the rivalry or in the case of the 2009 or 2011 games, ACC regular season implications. This game doesn't carry that kind of weight so it will be interesting to see what kind of energy level this Tar Heel team shows.
After all this is the seventh game in 17 days and UNC has looked a little ragged over the last two games. It is unlikely anyone among the players or Roy Williams would admit that fatigue is a factor. However it could very well be playing some part in a slight downturn, especially on the defensive end. That makes the clear goal of this game to be winning, preferably in easy fashion and taking the next four days to rest before traveling to Duke.
UNC 85 Notre Dame 70