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UNC vs. Notre Dame: Three Things to Watch

The Tar Heels must build off the end of the Wake Forest game.

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

In the North Carolina Tar Heels’ 88-79 victory over Wake Forest on Wednesday, the final eight minutes provided a glimpse of what this team can be: intense on defense and multi-faceted on offense.

UNC’s strong finish must carry over to their early start versus Notre Dame tomorrow morning. With a trip to Charlottesville next Tuesday, this is not the time for a misstep for Carolina.

The Irish are winless in conference play and have lost six of eight since defeating a ranked Michigan State team during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in late November.

Here are a few things to watch when UNC takes on ND tomorrow at 11:30 AM ET from the Smith Center.

Three-Point Defense

While Carolina ranks second to last in the ACC in three-point field goal defense, Notre Dame ranks second in the league in three-point field goal percentage.

Wake Forest shot 10 of 21 from three on Wednesday night. Their 47.6 shooting percentage was well above their season average, which ranks in the top quarter of the conference.

The Fighting Irish are taking about the same number of three-pointers as Wake Forest, but are a tick better (.014 percent) in percentage.

The Tar Heels must do a better job closing out the gaps on the perimeter. The Deacs did not need much breathing room to shoot. It just shows how important hustle and length are on the outside.

Carolina got burned three times on an inbound pass/catch-and-shoot scenario on Wednesday. UNC must work on their communication and assignments, especially if we see more shuffling on the rotation due to Pete Nance’s injury.

Can Caleb Love rebound from his performance against Wake Forest?

Caleb Love was ice cold against Wake Forest, and not in a good way. He shot just three of 15 from the floor, including one of seven from three.

The game against Pitt broke a nine-game streak of double-digit scoring totals.

In those two games after Christmas, Love scored just seven points each of those games and is a combined two of 10 from three.

The most telling offensive statistic from Love is that he did not attempt a single free throw over the course of the last two games.

There are no stats to back this up, but it just seems that when Love is driving to the basket, he has a better overall game.

The penetration in the lane creates contact and gets him to the line. That contact, especially when subsequent free throws are made, builds the confidence for the outside shot and the defensive intensity.

This team needs to do more in the paint. When the jump shots are not falling, get to those high-percentage shots. Let’s see if Love can find his form tomorrow.

Stop Nate Laszewski

When teams face North Carolina, they bring their best effort to the court. It is a tale as old as time. Or at least since the late 1950s.

This is Nate Laszewski’s fifth season with Notre Dame. During that time, he has scored 20 or more points 10 times.

Two of those were against Carolina.

The most three-pointers Laszewski has ever made in a collegiate game was seven. He also tallied a career-high 11 three-point attempts during that same game.

That game was against Carolina.

On two other occasions, Laszewski has scored six three-pointers in a game.

One of those was against Carolina.

It is a hunch, but Laszewski could have one of those days. Let’s hope Leaky Black or Seth Trimble can shut him down tomorrow.