The defending national champions dispatched Lipscomb on Friday in their first NCAA tournament game. Their fight gets a little harder, and a lot taller, this afternoon against Texas A&M. UNC’s opponent for today starts three 6’10” big men while sporting a smaller-than-normal lineup for themselves.
Fortunately, the Heels have seen this kind of size before. Theo Pinson has gone up against Florida State’s 7’+ duo, as well as strongly defended Marvin Bagley. Even Garrison Brooks did good work against Bagley in the ACC Tournament. “Can UNC handle this kind of length” is definitely the popular talking point on the internet right now, but there is no reason to believe they aren’t capable.
If Carolina can get the outside shot to fall, as well as defend in the paint, they should be fine. One thing they will have on their side is the crowd in Charlotte. Virginia fans who traveled in hopes of seeing their team play today almost certainly got rid of those tickets ASAP after the Wahoos were upset by UMBC Friday night. That should make for a heavily pro-UNC crowd in the Spectrum Center this afternoon.
Today’s game will likely not be easy by any means, but that’s the nature of playing this time of year. The games aren’t easy and any opponent can surprise you (see: aforementioned UMBC). That being said, UNC has been playing extremely good basketball as of late. If they continue that today, there’s no reason they can’t stick around for at least one more.
As always, we’ll be back after the game with a complete roundup of the happenings. Until then...