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UNC vs. Elon: Three Things to Watch

Let’s talk more weird stats…and biscuits.

NCAA Basketball: Michigan at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Tar Heels have caught fire as of late — not only are they currently on a three-game winning streak, but they won each of the three games by at least 17 points. They have seemingly solved their defensive woes, which was especially evident in their wins against Michigan and Georgia Tech, both of whom have some very talented scorers. This sets up a pretty easy game this weekend against Elon, who is currently on a six-game skid.

It’s always hard to know what to keep an eye on in games like this, but there are definitely some things that I’d like to see from this one specifically. Let’s discuss three things to watch during tomorrow’s game against the Phoenix.

The Kerwin Walton of Old

As of right now, the Tar Heel are shooting an impressive 43.3% from three-point range, which is the best we’ve seen since the 2008-09 season when the Heels shot at a 37.6% clip. If we were to go back in time with the knowledge of how well they are shooting right now, one would think that Kerwin Walton had a lot to do with their success. However, Walton currently has the sixth-best three-point shooting percentage on the team, and his 35.7% clip is trailing behind the 42% that he shot last season.

Perhaps even more concerning is looking at what Walton has done since the game against Purdue. From their battle against the Boilermakers until now, Walton has gone 2 of 13 from deep after making 8 of his first 15 attempts of the season. It’s unclear what caused such a dramatic shift, but tomorrow’s game against Elon would be as good of a time as any for him to get himself back on track. The good news is that Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, and Brady Manek have been shooting well in his absence, but the Heels still need Walton’s firepower, especially when they face off against UCLA next week.

Keeping the 20-point streak alive

If you’ve been keeping up with my tweets as of late (I wouldn’t blame you if you haven’t), I’ve been doing some digging into some interesting stats from this season. The latest stat that has peaked my interest is the fact that UNC has had a 20-point scorer in every game of the season so far. While I don’t have access or time to go as far down the rabbit hole as I would like to, it appears that this happened only once to this point of the season in the Roy Williams era. Even more interesting is that it’s been five different players accomplishing the feat — Armando Bacot, Caleb Love, R.J. Davis, Brady Manek, and Dawson Garcia have all crossed the 20-point mark at least once, and each have also earned the high-scorer crown in at least one game each as well. Is that good? I’d say that’s really, really good.

It’s hard to say how long this weird, yet incredible streak can last, but it goes to show that this team is one of the hardest to guard in the country. Having five guys that are capable of scoring 20 points on any given night is basically unfair, and even if the streak does end as early as tomorrow night, it doesn’t change the fact that this is a very dangerous offensive team. With that said, let’s all hope that the streak doesn’t end against Elon.

Biscuits, anyone?

Let’s get this out of the way: I know it’s silly to root for biscuits. I realize that. They are really cheap at Bojangles, and they’re just plain sausage biscuits that don’t even have egg or cheese on them. They are delicious, to be fair, but yes, I personally do not make the trip to Bojangles after the Heels drop 100 on a team.

What I do root for, however, is the Heels reaching the 100-point mark at all, which they haven’t done in the non-conference portion of the season since their win against Gonzaga in 2018. It seems like a really weird, non-important thing to want to see a team do, but there’s a lot to take away from a century mark game. For one: it means that they played the game at the pace that Hubert Davis wants them to play at, giving the Heels a high number of possessions. The second thing that it means is that the offense clicked on all cylinders, and likely limited their turnovers in the process. The third thing? While it’s a bit of a stretch, it also means that they were efficient from the free throw line.

Against a team like Elon, I’d really like to see the Heels end their non-conference biscuit drought, if for no other reason than it would be fun for the fans. What it would mean from a more important perspective, however, is that this team is finally becoming as dominant as they want to be, which is exactly what you want to see when the fourth-best team in the country is on the schedule next weekend. Dominate Elon (and Furman), and things look really good going into the game against UCLA.