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UNC vs. Alabama: Three Things to Watch

Will the Tar Heels start things off right in Nassau?

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NCAA Basketball: Elon University at North Carolina Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

The North Carolina Tar Heels are heading down to the islands this week for the Battle4Atlantis. This game will be the beginning of a very tough stretch for the Tar Heels, and after the past few games, there is a lot to improve upon.

Here are three things to watch as Carolina takes on Alabama and the rest of the Battle4Atlantis bracket.

Who Scores Instead of Anthony?

Head coach Roy Williams knew his team. He said they would struggle to score. How could that be? Well, in the early on, there have certainly been stretches of poor offensive execution and definitely a reliance on freshman Cole Anthony. This may be a trend for the entire season.

In the last game versus Elon, it was the first time in four games that Anthony was not the leading scorer. Armando Bacot recorded his second straight double-double and led all scorers with 22 points.

There is still much to improve in all areas, including overall shot quality, good looks from beyond the arc, and making it count at the free throw line.

Carolina currently ranks 227th in the country at 42.6 from the floor. As defenses learn more about Anthony, you can be sure that some nights the other team will have his number. UNC needs to find more scoring and now is the time to do it.

Win the Rebounding Battle

The Crimson Tide come into the tournament as the 12th-best defensive rebounding team in the country and rank 14th overall in rebounding. Carolina is tops in total rebounds, defensive rounds, and rebounding margin.

This will be a good challenge for freshmen Bacot and Anthony, along with grad transfers Christian Keeling and Justin Pierce. As the Tar Heels continue to improve on the offensive glass, this will connect directly to balanced scoring. If UNC can capitalize on those high percentage shots, it will take pressure off Anthony.

Marathon and a Sprint

This tournament will be a new experience for the freshmen and those players that have transitioned into a more prominent role on the team.

One of the advantages of these high-profile, early season tournaments is that it allows players to get a sense of what conference and postseason tournaments feel like later in the year. These tournaments have good competition and pageantry of a Battle4Atlantis, Maui, or Las Vegas provide a sampling of those tournaments later in the year.

The team cannot leave it all out on the floor against Alabama. There are three games to be played, and the hope is that UNC will challenge for the tournament championship.

However, the Tar Heels are known for the conditioning required for the high-possession offense in the Williams system. Can they make their conditioning pay off? Can they wear down the other teams in three days?