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Tale of Two Lineups

Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Some interesting efficiency numbers tweeted out by analytics aficionado Adrian Atkinson regarding the use of Kennedy Meeks versus Isaiah Hicks.



If we could amend the rules of basketball to permit Meeks and Hicks to freely sub in and out, the Tar Heels would be golden.

With Meeks on the floor, UNC is still a good offensive team but when it's Hicks, it goes off the charts. The defensive end is another story. Atkinson points out the opposing free throw rate jumps and the DRB% goes down when Hicks is on the floor. Neither are surprising. Hicks commits more fouls per 40 minutes than Meeks. Hicks in the game also puts Johnson at the five where the match-up is less than ideal. On the defensive boards, Meeks has a DRB% of 21.5 while Hicks is at 13.9.

What this tells you, along with the productivity of the small lineup is UNC has plenty of personnel options. The Tar Heels have quality depth, nine players that have scored in double figures this season and the versatility to deal with a variety of match-ups. It also emphasizes that as much as the starting lineup gets debated, the only lineup that matters is the one Roy Williams uses when the game is in the balance. Those lineup decisions are far more important than who starts.

A bonus nugget here for the "what's up with Justin Jackson" crowd.

Jackson continues to be an oddity in that it doesn't "feel" like he's doing much but the number indicate he's been incredibly valuable. Him shooting 23% from three is part of that and the lack of gaudy scoring totals is also a factor. Still, Jackson's presence on the court clearly makes a huge difference even if we aren't seeing what we expected.