The Tar Heels, posting a 12-2 thus far out of conference play, will come into McCamish Pavilion to kick off their the ACC portion of their season with Georgia Tech. Unlike Carolina, the Yellow Jackets have not played a very rigorous non conference schedule. They have 8 wins to start the season including an OT win at VCU, but have suffered losses to Ohio, Penn State, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Jackets hope to disrupt a UNC offense that has been on fire the past two games, and come away with a signature top-ten win. UNC and GT tipoff at noon tomorrow on ACC Network. Here’s what to watch:
1. Georgia Tech Defense
Georgia Tech, even though they have struggled at times against power five teams, have kept games close this season with their defense. They rank close to the top 50 in points allowed in college basketball. They also average seven blocks per game, with center Ben Lammers averaging almost four. Lammers is a 6-10 junior that loves to deter points in the paint, especially off the dribble. Given that UNC loves to attack with Berry or feed it in to Meeks, we’ll have to see if Carolina can keep their offense going against Tech. Look for the Heels to drive and kick early, testing out their range.
2. Justin Jackson
UNC’s Justin Jackson has 74 points over the past three games. Yeah, you read that right. If you’ve been watching UNC basketball recently, you have seen Jackson put up 34 against Kentucky, and shoot 6-9 from beyond the arc on Wednesday vs. Monmouth. Except for a few blemishes to his stat sheet, the junior forward has pretty consistently given Carolina a boost offensively this season. Hopefully, Justin Jackson can continue his recent hot streak in Atlanta tomorrow. As mentioned earlier, the GT defense has been effective in the paint this season. Jackson’s floater, midrange, and three point shooting game could be the key against Ben Lammers and this kind of defense.
3. Carolina’s Depth
So far this season, UNC has played 10 players for more than 100 minutes each. This is an incredible statistic that shows just how deep Carolina is. Many teams in college basketball only give significant playing time to seven or eight players. Reason being, many teams don’t enough solid players coming off the bench that are able to make a contribution. To put it in perspective, our friends from Durham have seven players with over 100 minutes of gameplay. Kentucky has nine. The Tar Heels have a solid rotation of 10, and Roy Williams is continuing to give utility man Stilman White some quality minutes as well.
Playing as many players as Carolina has been this season will prove to be helpful down the road. Coach Williams was dealing with a similar roster situation last season, and subbed at will during their deep tournament run. Having plenty of trusted players helped down the stretch last year, and the UNC coaching staff is hoping the same will be true this year. Look for a typical starting five and rotation tomorrow, and for Carolina’s depth to cause Georgia Tech some problems as the game progresses.
Carolina is 1-1 in true road games this season. That includes a win at Tulane, and a loss to Indiana in Assembly Hall in November. The Tar Heels will try to get above .500 tomorrow as they take on Georgia Tech in the Thrillerdome.