Hang on to your hats folks, North Carolina (5-2) will be hosting UNC Greensboro (4-4), a inferior team that is coached by an ex player under head coach Roy Williams, Wes Miller, and if that does not scare you looking back at the past couple of weeks, I am not sure much can! The game, the first of six home games for the Heels, will tip off at 7:00 p.m. EST and will be shown on both ESPNU and ESPN3.
This team feels like it plays up or down to its competition, having lost to a couple of inferior teams, while beating a #3 Louisville on a neutral court and the top team in the nation, in Michigan State, on their home floor. Even more impressive is that the Heels never trailed in the game against the Spartans and that five played scored in double figure.
“You can’t tell in college basketball what’s going to happen,” Williams said Wednesday. “I looked out there today at one time and I had three freshman, a sophomore and a junior on the court, and we don’t have a senior traveling with us. You understand kids are going to do some wacko things and you hope you do enough good ones on game night.”
So far UNC Greensboro, which are also nicknamed Spartans, has not played on the road, having lost their only match up outside of their arena, while North Carolina is 3 and 1 at the Dean Dome, with this one being the first of six at home to close out 2013. But as coach Williams said above, with a young team, and missing two key players, if players make ‘wacko things’ you never know what can come of it.
With the pair of P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald still out, we know the reason, as the NCAA is moving quite slowly on it. But the question most of the UNC fan base has is about another missing player… why is junior forward James McAdoo still not in the groove with almost a quarter of the season played? My answer is pretty simple: both last year, when he had to adapt to being in the middle, and now this year, when he has had to play on the wind, McAdoo is learning on the job his new position.
By all means, should he still be performing somewhat better? Sure, but on the other hand there could be a lot more criticism if he was playing at his natural position of power forward. Furthermore, it could be said that if McAdoo had done a bit more the Heels could be undefeated at this point, but that, with maybe the exception of Marcus Paige and possibly Brice Johnson, could be said about most everyone else on the team. But the reality, as sophomore guard J.P. Tokoto said, this team is about a team effort…
“If you look at tape of the two losses, you can totally tell that the level of intensity is not where it should be and not where it could be,” Tokoto said. “If you look at the Louisville game, our level of intensity was sky high. The way we got up and down, no one was jogging; everyone was sprinting to their spots.”
One thing that this Spartan has over the Tar Heels is that they have several national champions, starting with their head man, who won it in 2005, as well as Jackie Manuel, assistant coach, and J.B. Tanner, director of operations. Manuel won it all in `05 and Tanner in `09.
On the other hand, if you look at the players that the Tar Heels will face today this could be easily considered the worst squad that coach Williams will face this campaign. And this is where Carolina has to show that it is growing, improving, going from young to mature. It needs to go out and play hard for the whole forty minutes having to face a very bad team and coming off a huge win. If they do that it will show that this young team is maturing and that all of its members are learning from their experiences and/or mistakes.
This needs to be a sort of win where the starting five get a lot more breathers, where the end of the bench gets more than a minute or so at the end… in other words, this is the type of game where North Carolina needs to impose its will on the opponents and send the crowd home with biscuits!
KenPow gives the Heels a 99% chance of winning this game. I would almost dare to say it is off by 1%, as this should definitely be a big time win for the squad, as in the KenPow rankings place UNC 8th and UNC-G 326th. In other words, there is very little comparison, and unless those “wacko things’ happen all game long, this should not be close come intermission. The Vegas lines are putting the Heels as a 26.5 favorite. I like to see that much of a margin within the first five to seven minutes of the second half, so that the starters get taken out and more and more of the role players see action. In the end, for the first time this season UNC scores in triple digits, the final being 105 to 78.