After over a week off it’s time once again for UNC to get back to action on the hardwoods, as No. 5 AP/No. 6 Coaches North Carolina (11-2) hosts Elon (7-4) at the Dean Dome tonight, with a tip-off time of 7:00 pm EST. The game is going to be on ESPNU, with Jon Sciambi and Hubert Davis being the announcers, and is part of the nine game home stead for UNC. In this match up head coach Roy Williams will once again meet up with one of his former players, as Elon’s assistant coach is John Wooten, who was a walk-on on the 2009 national championship team at North Carolina. The Tar Heels are 17-4 against the Phoenix, who last faced off in 1950, and have won 10 straight against this SoCon conference squad. Once again this is a game after a lay-off, which sometimes means the team not being at its peak, however a win will make UNC match its longest win streak in Smith Center history, and I doubt anyone team member isn’t going to work for this.
While Elon’s top scorer is a 6’10″ big man, sophomore Lucas Troutman, scoring over 12 and a half points per game, the team itself is more oriented from the outside, which in some ways has to scare anyone that knows how UNC’s D does with perimeter scoring, especially after having had a lay off. The Phoenix hit close to 8 and a half three’s per game, which means shooting guard Dexter Strickland is going to have to work hard on the defensive side in this one, while point guard Kendall Marshall needs to stop any dribble penetration from the opposing squad. For both of them, as well as the ones coming off the bench, this will be a good work out for the games to come in conference play. The team as a whole also has to take advantage of the fact that Elon does not protect the ball too well and exchange live ball turnovers into easy buckets. Just like many other games the Tar Heels have had this season this game is a lot more about what they can (and will) do and not so much about what the opposing will do. Just like all the rest of those games the team needs to put this one away quickly, not allowing them to stick around!
To do that the team needs to use their patented fast break and if that is not available then going inside to the duo of Tyler Zeller and John Henson, who are both playing well right now, with the first one having 32 rebounds in the the last three games while the second one is averaging a double double for the season. Of course it will be interesting to see how Harrison Barnes responds to having had his best game of the season against Texas after having two sub performances the prior games. As far as the team is concerned the two things to watch will be the shots from beyond the arc, especially P.J. Hairston who has been cold of late, and the ones from the charity stripe, as those are going to be the key to this team getting deep into March Madness.
In the end this one should not be one that worries anyone too much, with the exception of whether the fans at the game get their biscuits the next day or not. The Vegas line for the game is 30 points, while unsure if North Carolina will cover that very large spread, but it is pretty sure they will win this one easily, with the final score being 96 to 68.