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UNC vs. Miami: Three Things Learned

Morale has improved for the Tar Heels, though things are still pretty messy.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Miami (FL) Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

College basketball wins on the road are supposed to be a joyous time for teams, especially when considering how this season has gone for…well…everybody. For the Tar Heels that is still true, but let’s be honest: that was a little too close for comfort against Miami. If we’re looking at the glass half full, things still went much better than they did against Clemson (at home), and there was a fun development that we will get into. If we’re looking at the glass half empty, however, we’re still seeing how badly this team misses Seth Trimble, and there are some bad decisions being made on the floor that would make Roy Williams rip three of his jackets like Superman ripping a phone book.

Still, a win is a win, and the Tar Heels have earned another Quad 1 victory to help their NCAA Tournament resume. Let’s discuss three things we learned from the too-close-for-comfort win in Coral Gables.

Elliot Cadeau is trying to improve his scouting report

By now we’re all familiar with Elliot Cadeau’s game: he is a very fast guard with elite floor vision that can torch you going to the rim at will. It’s why teams have focused on not letting him drive, it’s why opponents are cutting off passing lanes, and Cadeau has been relegated to shooting three-pointers as a result. In a stunning new development, however, his shots from deep are starting to go in.

While yesterday’s game wasn’t a three-point shooting renaissance from Cadeau, but it is still worth noting that he went 2-6 from deep after not making a single three in the year 2024. His volume of shots seem to be part of the “Convince Cadeau to be more aggressive” plan, which is hard to sell fans unless the ball starts to go in the basket. Seeing him make a couple against Miami was a pleasant surprise, but it is only one step in a multi-step process of getting teams to stop sagging off of him when he is on the perimeter. It’s worth reminding everyone that prior to UNC, Cadeau actually was a pretty good three-point shooter, but that part of his game hasn’t translated to the college level just yet. Hopefully he can start knocking down a couple per contest and build up more confidence going into the postseason.

Seth Trimble needs to come back ASAP

What wasn’t made easier for the Tar Heels yesterday is the fact that Seth Trimble still hasn’t returned to action. Still recovering from an upper body injury he suffered during practice, the Tar Heels ended up in several nasty situations that would’ve been made easier by his presence. The most notable issue that the Heels ran into is that Cormac Ryan committed his fourth foul during an important stretch of the game, and Harrison Ingram barely hung in there with three.

Foul trouble aside, this Heels defense always looks better when Trimble is on the floor. It’s hard to imagine that Nijel Pack would’ve finished with 20 points had Trimble been on the floor, and perhaps we would’ve seen more than one bench point all game. Yes, you read that correctly: the only Carolina bench player to score against the Hurricanes was Zayden High, and his one point came from the free throw line. We all know by now how important Trimble is to this team, but it still feels like his absence has made a bigger impact on games than I would’ve thought. Hopefully he will be able to return Tuesday against Syracuse.

Bad decisions nearly doomed the Heels

One of the more frustrating developments for the Tar Heels over the last couple of games has been on the offensive side of the ball. Teams are doubling down on taking Armando Bacot and RJ Davis out of plays — which by the way, they both combined for 35 points so it’s not going so well — and as a result we have seen some interesting decisions being made from the supporting cast. Example: 20 three-point attempts were taken by players not named RJ Davis, and only six went in the basket. The first half was the most egregious, as it was clear that the Heels were settling for jumpers rather than driving to the rim.

Aside from shot selection, the Heels also turned the ball over 16 times, leading to 22 points for Miami. If we were to factor in the amount of points the Hurricanes scored off of missed shots, I’m sure it would highlight in red just how impactful their miscues were in the game. Said miscues also played a critical role in the Heels not scoring a single field goal in the final 4:07 of regulation. Miami is a better team than their record in my humble opinion, but ultimately the Heels should’ve had no issues putting them away. Make that many mistakes, and teams will make you pay more often than they don’t.