Miami vs UNC Game Preview

Miami vs UNC Game Preview

CHAPEL HILL, NC -- The Canes (20-8, 9-7 ACC) travel to Chapel Hill to take on the 9th ranked Tar Heels (22-7, 11-5 ACC) in their final true road game of the season.

All the way back on December 18th the 9-0 Canes were ranked 6th in the nation and sat right behind the 10-1 North Carolina Tar Heels who were ranked 5th with a loss against Michigan State the only blemish on their record. Later that week the Canes would fall to the New Mexico State Aggies in Hawaii, while UNC dropped one of the biggest head scratchers of the season at home against the Wofford Terriers. While the losses didn't leave either team reeling, it did raise questions about the potential of the two thought-to-be powerhouses as the season progressed.

2 months later, both teams look to be safely on their way to the Big Dance, but they also seem like they are heading in very different directions. The Tar Heels suffered a 3 game losing streak at the end of January, but since then have won 6 straight, outscoring their opponents 88 - 74.7 during the stretch. The streak has helped the Tar Heels climb from .500 in ACC play to 11-5 and sole possession of 3rd place in the conference.

Meanwhile, the Canes needed an improbable 14 point comeback against an average Boston College team to avoid a season sweep against the Eagles. While the Canes are on a two game winning streak, neither game has been comfortable. Long stretches of scoreless basketball has haunted the Canes causing them to fall out of games, or allow opponents to come back against them. While early in the season, the Canes defense was dominant it has been less than stellar of late. Bad offense has led to easy points on the other end, but until Saturday the Canes defense hadn't been able to get key stops in their previous losses to allow them to mount a comeback.

Unfortunately, the Canes have the unlucky privilege of playing against the Tar Heels on Senior night, where the careers of Joel Berry, Theo Pinson, and Cameron Johnson will be honored. Even if it weren't the final home game for Berry and Pinson, two players who helped lead the Tar Heels to last year's national title, the Canes would still have their work cut out for them in this one. The Tar Heels are peaking at the right time, while the Canes still look like they are trying to find an identity. Against the Eagles the one thing that kept the Canes within striking distance was their ability to overwhelm BC on the glass. However, Dewan Huell and Ebuka Izundu will have their hands full with Luke Maye, who is having a tremendous Junior season, averaging 18 PPG and 10.2 RPG.

For the Canes to have a chance in this one, they will need to limit turnovers and shoot the ball much better from beyond the arc than in their previous game, where they recorded 12 turnovers and shot just 28.6% from 3. Turnovers absolutely killed the Canes on Saturday, leading to easy fast break points for the Eagle which helped them build their lead. If the Canes are as careless with the ball against UNC it is hard to imagine that they will be able to mount a comeback of any kind.

One bit of good news for the Canes is that they have officially earned a bye in the first round of the ACC tournament. This is huge for the Canes, as it pretty much eliminates any potential bracket busting loss to an ACC bottom dweller. Maybe this will help the Canes play loose, knowing they have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Coach L always seems like he's able to get his teams ready and focused more easily for games against highly ranked opponents than against teams at or below the Canes talent level, so that will also be in the Canes favor. If the Canes are able to pull off the victory it would be a huge seed booster for the tournament. In Joe Lunardi's latest update of Bracketology, he has the Canes as a 9 seed in the dreaded 8/9 matchup. A win on the road against a top 10 team would certainly help the Canes inch closer to the 7 line, which offers better first and second round matchups.

The game will air live on ESPN at 9pm.

Comments (15)

This one will be very tough to win but hopefully the team takes the attitude that there is nothing to lose and a lot to gain
We need to win this one or the next one. 10 wins during the regular season.
Don't see a W at Chapel Hill. We need to beat VT again, especially since VT upset Duke tonight. That was not good news for us.
UNC 11 pt favorite
When I was writing this the spread hadn't come out yet. I was trying to guess it but really couldn't figure out where it was going to end up. I was hoping we would be single digit underdogs, but 11 seems right.
tough one tonight, hope the guys show up ready to play
Tough game. I think we play hard. Let’s see what happens.
I haven't watched much of UNC this year, but it looks like they are playing their typical Roy Williams "first one to 85 wins" brand of basketball. Do we start in a zone and try to take the air out of the ball? I worry that we won't be able to put anyone on Maye that can stop him inside. Plus, a zone should help our rebounding, and we definitely need to limit UNC's possessions as much as we can.
Thanks for the write up. I don't believe we are automatically in the tournament yet. We lose 3 in a row and we are a bubble team that has a 50/50 shot of getting in. I hope the players know they need to win one more to be locked in. As for this game, going to be real tough to win tonight. One interesting thing about this team though is no matter how frustrating they've been, they haven't really been blown out all year. Their worse losses of the season were by 10 to GT which we were right in that game and New Mexico by 9. The New Mexico game is the only game we really were down all game to and never really had much of a chance. Point being, we stay in games and I think we'll stay in this one but UNC will pull away late. Hope I'm wrong.
Playing UNC this time of year is always tough. It will take maybe our best effort of the year to win. I am very interested to see if we go with the new big lineups. This may be IMO our only chance unless we get some lucky 3 point shooting and make a high percentage for FT's.

VT is no gimmee either they are a very scrappy team
I hope we go with the following to start:

PG: Lykes
SG: Walker
SF: Amp
PF: Huell
C: Izundu

I want Izundu and Amp to guard Maye (not at the same time). Must grab rebounds and limit their second chance opportunities. The crazy part is Maye is their tallest starter at 6'8 (Cam Johnson is 6'8 too), we need to keep him off the board. UNC does an incredible job rebounding and passing.
We can beat this team. Need to make open 3s and not turn the ball over. UNC is a great team, but they don’t have overwhelming talent as they normally do.

I don’t gamble on the Canes, but when was the last time we lost by double digits?
GT this year by 10, Last year Iowa St-17, Syracuse-15, WF-17,Duke-12, FSU-18, NC-25 and Michigan St.-23.
I think we have a chance to get off to a fast start tonight with 15 + 20 giving them some early problems. Besides the obvious (playing zone against us) we are not that easy to scout as our lineup has changed so much lately. Keys for us will be this

Offensive boards - This is very doable
Up tempo a must - hope is I have to say about this and its critical

We need every loose ball and every free throw.

15 could make a name for himself tonight in the ACC. Chis Lykes too

This would be a big one. One of the best regular season wins in a while. Would give us tremendous mojo and cement the spot