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UNC vs Rutgers

Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
When: Tuesday, December 28th, 9:00 PM
Records: UNC 8-4; Rutgers 9-2

Since we still operate with a “take nothing for granted” view on UNC basketball, I am not taking this one for granted. After all, Rutgers is 9-2 with wins over Miami and Auburn but losses to Princeton and St. Joseph’s. Plus, I have no idea what a week off without the normal game routine and the added travel issues might throw this team out of kilter. Such is the nature of the present team.

That being the case, I expect the Heels to be a little rusty and the offense to be rough around the edges. Since that might be the case, UNC needs to come out focused on defense. Despite the week off and whatever else may have happened, there is no reason not to come out and give a solid defensive effort. If that happens, who knows maybe the offense shows up in a meaningful way.

In reality the purpose of this game and the next one is to tune up for ACC play. UNC needs a couple of good wins to build some momentum when they face Virginia to open up the ACC schedule. The next two games are important also for the NCAA Tournament resume. If the Heels can manage 10-6 in the ACC to go with a 10-4 out of conference mark, UNC is 20-10 and virtually a shoe-in for the NCAA Tournament. Less than that on both accounts creates issues. First things first however and that is handling Rutgers then going from there.

UNC 84 Rutgers 69

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15 comments to UNC vs Rutgers

  • Wilf

    My gut says we struggle thru one of “those” awful first halves and come out for the second half ready to play. I’d be tickled with a 10 point win considering the travel issues and I’m guessing poor attendance. I think a large crowd, even if hostile, would help us focus. So maybe more peeps will show than I expect, which is about 7500.

    Hope it’s closer to your prediction THF. Mine is UNC 75 Rutgers 64.

    Go Carolina!!

  • I have no idea what to expect for the game play, hopefully we come out ready to rumble, at least on defense. Not too sure about attendance but I think this will be pretty full given that it’s in MSG, should be plenty of UNC fans and anyone in NJ can take NJ Transit into Penn Station, directly under MSG for $15 one way.

  • UNCmonkey

    well I’ll take the high road and hope that the guys are rested, focused, full on good home cooking (I hope Henson ate enough for 3 christmases), and ready to go. A buddy of mine cautioned the Rutgers has all the makings of the classic “trap game” however that usually applies to teams who believe they have enough margin of error to sneak a look ahead toward confrence play. This squad, albeit improving, can’t over-look anyone…

  • faustus1500

    Rutgers is missing a key players from the team which UNC beat last year. Leading scorer Mike Rosario transferred to Florida. Ironically, the Scarlet Knights were a 9-2 team last season. Based on Rutgers adjusted tempo, it looks like this year’s team under Mike Rice likes to play a slower tempo than last year’s team.

  • Wilf

    Looks like we will get to see some of what we missed (or didn’t miss) with Kadeem Jack. Could be his first game tonight if I understand correctly.

  • nativeheel

    I would not be suprised to see some offensive hangover from the holiday break. Just hope the D can carry us if the O is stagnant.
    My guess: UNC 77 and Rutgers 68.
    Go Heels!!

  • Zeller snapped a recent Tar Heel streak of underwhelming performance in one’s “home game” earlier this season; let’s hope Strickland can keep this new “streak” going tonight…

  • Class of 07

    Wilf, from what I read Jack will be held out until next season.

  • faustus1500

    I thought Jack went to prep school. According to ESPN, he is part of Rutgers’ 2011 class.

  • faustus1500

    Has anyone paid attention to UNC’s players stats on Kenpon? It looks very odd. According to Kenpom.com, UNC’s major contributor is John Henson, while Larry Drew is listed as having a limited role(used only 12%-16% of possessions.)

  • ^FGA are a major component of possession %, so it’s not surprising that Drew’s is low.

  • Andy In Omaha

    Because Rutgers doesn’t have a lot of length, I think Zeller should get a ton of looks, but something tells me UNC will see a ton of 2-3 zone tonight.
    Also Rutgers will run 8 or 9 deep, but they’re starting five accounts for the vast majority of the scoring. Also need to keep an eye on Jonathan Mitchell, Mike Coburn, and James Beatty. They all shoot the three pretty darn well, and if they get hot, then UNC can be in for a long night.
    Another thing that might play into UNC’s favor is that their new coach, Mike Rice, likes to play at a lot slower pace then last year’s team. If UNC can create turnovers off of the slow pace and be productive in transition, then I don’t think it will be as close as THF predicted.
    I like UNC’s chances here on paper, but it all depends on who shows up. This has the potential to be like the Charleston game last year, but I think this team is a lot more focused than last year’s.

  • UNCmonkey

    All good points - this team maybe historically and statistically has a tendancy to come out flat from a long break (longer than normal anyway) but for some reason I still have a good feeling about how we play tonight. I think (HOPE) this team is ready to take a step forward and amp their game up a bit. The Texas game - if nothing else should have steeled their resolve - they can compete - now they just need to finish. Anyone have a status update on Henson? I assume since I’ve herad nothing that he will play…

  • Mo

    I’ll be watching Barnes tonight…..exclusively watching Barnes. In doing so I hope to see him get into the mix with at least one foot in the paint and the ball in his hands on at least 25% of the possessions.
    It’s what I asked Santa to bring me for Christmas.
    Sure hope Santa is real, but my cousin says he ain’t.

  • Heel To The End

    as Rutgers has no one over 6’8″, i’d like to see us act like we really have superior height. unlike recent performances.