North Carolina will take on Monmouth on Wednesday in their first game back since the short break for Christmas. The 11-2 Tar Heels are coming off an impressive win against Northern Iowa, a game where they doubled the Panthers’ score. Led by senior Kennedy Meeks and junior Joel Berry II, Carolina is hoping to keep the momentum going before heading to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on New Years Eve.
“Break?”, Meeks said on Wednesday following the win over UNI. It’s almost like his ears perked up when the reporter asked about it. “Oh yeah,” he went on, “going home to see our families is something that we’ve all been looking forward to. At the same time you have to come back [next week] and refocus.” Refocusing will be big for the Heels, who have looked unfocused at points this season. Even though resulting in wins, Carolina played tight games with both Davidson and Tennessee, teams UNC fans were expecting to beat handily. Carolina will have to approach Wednesday’s game with the right mindset and attitude to avoid the upset at the hands of the Hawks.
A team well known for their creativity on the bench last season is doing some noteworthy things on the floor this season. Monmouth will come in to Chapel Hill with a record of 10-2, and on a nine-game win streak. The Hawks are averaging 80 points a game, and will not be shy attacking UNC. They took a solid South Carolina team to overtime at the beginning of the season, and they’ve just rattled off wins over Memphis and Princeton.
Monmouth relies heavily on their senior point guard Justin Robinson (#12). He’s a small yet feisty guard that is leading his team in points, assists, free throw percentage, and minutes played. He will most likely be Carolina’s main point of emphasis, doing their best to contain his dribble drive. That will not be enough, however. The Hawks also have a very good three point shooter in Je’lon Hornbeak, who leads the team in three point shooting percentage at 51%, and threes made with 34. These two have put up some impressive numbers on good teams. Carolina will try to avoid being added to the list tomorrow.
The Monmouth Hawks will look to upset the Tar Heels on Wednesday, and continue their win streak which is already a school record. They also sit atop the MAAC, and will want to carry momentum into the heart of their conference season. Even though Monmouth is a good team with lots of things going for them, Carolina is the better team and they want to play like it on Wednesday. Similar to the UNI game, expect the Heels to put the pressure on Monmouth defensively, and let their defense turn into offense. If they can accomplish that, with good rebounding and shooting, Carolina will win and head into ACC play feeling confident. Both teams have motivation heading into tomorrow’s game in the Smith Center. Tipoff is at 7:00 on ESPNU.