The North Carolina Tar Heels (10-1) are returning home as the #5 team in the nation (courtesy of the latest AP Poll) and coming off their best win of the season thus far at Tennessee. They'll be looking to extend their five-game winning streak against the Wofford Terriers (7-4) on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill. Here are three things to watch for:
If you haven't heard of Fletcher Magee already, you should familiarize yourself with him pronto. The six-foot-four junior guard for Wofford is the best shooter in the nation. He is currently averaging 24.1 ppg and doing it on 59% from the field and 58% from beyond the arc. He can kill you coming off screens, he can fire off the dribble, and he can hit game winners from 30 feet out.
Don't take my word for it. Check out his 36-pt performance against Georgia Tech 11 days ago:
Not too shabby, right? Where'd he learn to shoot like that? Well, per Bleacher Report: "I watched a lot of JJ Redick highlights on Youtube." Grrrrr....
Wofford relies heavily on Magee, so stopping or slowing him (easier said than done) is imperative. It will be interesting to see who draws the initial assignment, Kenny Williams or Theo Pinson, though doubtless both will see some time on him during the course of the game.
How Will the Tar Heels Defend the Perimeter?
Magee may be the star, but the Terriers have plenty of other shooters onboard besides him. In 11 games, the Terriers have attempted 271 three-pointers (for comparison, the Heels have attempted 205) and hit 45% of them. They have five players besides Magee that average better than 38% from beyond the arc. Of the Tar Heels' opponents thus far, only Davidson has relied on the three ball more and they don’t shoot it with nearly as much efficiency.
The Terriers like to go with four-man-out looks often and that will pose an interesting question to Roy Williams, whether he wants to go small and have his more athletic perimeter defenders swarm the Terrier shooters, or if he wants to press his advantage on the inside with his usual two-big lineup. Probably the latter, but if Wofford gets hot we may see a change in tactics.
Which Freshman Will Play Big?
Wofford may be lethal from three, but they are weak on the interior, especially in rebounding and shot blocking. Regardless of which lineups Roy will choose to lean on, this is a game where one of the freshman bigs will have an opportunity to have a big night. Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley have seized the lion's share of the workload, with Brandon Huffman very much the third option off the bench. Brooks has started all 11 games, but Huffman has posted better stats in points, rebounds, and FG%.
On Sunday against the Vols, the two logged almost identical stat lines, both playing 19 minutes and contributing 10 points and 8 boards (Manley) and 9 points and 8 boards (Brooks). Brooks was called upon to finish the game and hit a go-ahead layup just under the 3 minute mark. Neither one has distanced themselves from the other so far this year. Wednesday night will be a prime opportunity for one of them to make a statement.