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#5 UNC vs #9 Wisconsin

What: ACC-B1G Challenge
Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Wednesday, November 30th, 9:30 PM
Records: UNC 5-1; Wisconsin 6-0

After the sort of surprising first loss of the season to UNLV in Las Vegas on Saturday night, UNC must rebound quickly to take on a pair of top ten opponents who will test the Heels in every way fathomable.

If you could pick one opponent that is both the polar opposite of UNC and has strengths in areas that would probably give this team the most fits, Wisconsin would be it. Let’s take a look at a few Ken Pomeroy numbers for the team he presently has ranked #3 in the country. Wisconsin comes in ranked 345th in tempo which is dead last in Division I. UNC on the other hand is fifth in tempo but seeing that it is easier to slow the game down than speed it up, the slower tempo will put some pressure of the Heels to be efficient offensively since there will be fewer possession to be had. The Badgers are #1 in the nation in controlling the defensive boards only giving up 18.1% of offensive rebounds. They are #1 in effective FG% which includes shooting 47.2% from three(#2 nationally) and with 46% of their points coming from three. Wisconsin boasts the #5 offense and #2 defense in teams of efficiency. Given how UNC has rebounded and defended the three so far this season, this could be a recipe for disaster especially when you throw in the fact Wisconsin has arguably the best point guard in the country in Jordan Taylor.

All that being considered there are some important areas that work in UNC’s favor. First of all this is a home game for the Heels which should provide a significant boost for UNC after playing four of the first six games away from Chapel Hill. Secondly, UNC is athletic, long and while Wisconsin will probably be able to force a slower tempo I imagine the Heels are still going to force the Badgers into a tempo outside their comfort zone. It is also worth mentioning Wisconsin has not really been tested in their first six games. The Badgers’ first five games were against teams ranked 200 or worse in the KenPom rankings. The Badgers did beat BYU 73-56 on Saturday for their first top 50 win of the season. This will be Wisconsin’s first foray into a hostile environment.

Make no mistake, the numbers says this is a significant test for the Heels. Wisconsin does a lot of things well that can give UNC trouble and there will be physical play under the rim for John Henson and Tyler Zeller to contend with. The Kendall Marshall-Jordan Taylor matchup could go a long way to determining the outcome of this game as will the health of Harrison Barnes coming off the ankle injury versus UNLV. Wisconsin is not a deep team with only seven players over 10 mpg and six of those are 24 or more mins per contest. This is where the play of P.J. Hairston, Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo could be huge as well as Dexter Strickland speed and athleticism which could work to keep pressure on the Badgers.

As much hand wringing as we have done over one loss, this game presents a perfect opportunity to prove the loss to UNLV was a one off perfect storm of one team playing above their heads and UNC underperforming. The Heels have always bounced back nicely under Roy Williams and this game is a chance to answers some critics while building some momentum heading to Lexington on Saturday.

UNC 71 Wisconsin 59

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29 comments to #5 UNC vs #9 Wisconsin

  • UNC is 14-3 against the BIG Whatever under Roy, of course, 2 of those losses came last November.

  • AZACCFan

    These next two games will say a lot about what is really happening inside this team. UNLV and Wisconsin have targeted this game against UNC for months. UNLV came out to play from the start.

    While Wisconsin is untested away from home in a setting like the Smith Center against a team with the potential of UNC, they do a lot of things that can cause problems.

    It is very early in the season. However, the measure of this team is being taken now and it is time to step forward.

    I hope they can. GO HEELS.

  • Heel To The End

    if this game was on the road, and not after a loss, i think we are a lot more concerned. and we’re still concerned.

  • Tarheelsincebirth

    I am really nervous about this game. Carolina has not really impressed me that much this year. Especially, their foulshots and the inside game ie, rebounding and shooting espcially, from Zeller. He needs to step up. Shooting under 60% from the foul line doesn’t cut it!!! They have to improve there.

    I really hope they pull this game out, but I have my doubts.

  • TarHeelGreg

    A great test for the Heels as Wisconsin excels in rebounding, three-point shooting, and has an all-star guard. Hope to see the Heels play with that “sense of urgency” Roy Williams talks about, get a solid win, and build some momentum to carry into Saturday.

  • nick

    yeah, if you believe Pomeroy’s numbers they are a significantly better team than the Heels-but iirc his system loves slow-tempo things who are capable of recording 70-40 beatdowns of teams the Heels would beat 100-70…

    If Strickland guards Jordan Taylor, we win.

  • I think the only reason this game is big, in the grand scheme of things, is if you start to look ahead towrads seeding, UNC could easily get a #1 with a loss to (at) UNLV and at UK on their record, but if they also lose to Wisconsin at home, then things become trickier, unless they win 14+ in the ACC and the ACCT (both of which are still possible).

  • UNC863

    We will see a different team tonight. They are like a prize fighter. They just needed their bell rung to wake up and now we will be off to the races. IN ROY I TRUST!!!

  • BoyWilliams

    PJ gonna kill him a badger
    by stickin’ 6 or 7 daggers
    - ice cold killin’ 3′s
    fresh as Wisconsin cheese

  • Heel To The End

    is cheese ever really fresh?

  • harrisonbarnes11

    Just because UNLV played the best game of their life doesn’t mean we aren’t still the best team out there. The heels have their eyes opened now and it’s time to prove who we are. We handle Wisconsin tonight and take out the cats Saturday. Would be ranked 2 or 3 if we did wouldnt we?

  • ^Probably, but if that happens, maybe the voters should think about moving UNLV to #1…

  • faustus1500

    Two of UNCs losses to the Big Ten were against Illinois. The other was to Minnesota who had three physical big men, plus a great perimeter defender.

  • gregrustin

    its all in how the game is called. WWE or NCAA.

  • AZACCFan

    Officiating at home should favor UNC.

    Have the officials for the game been announced yet? That often doesn’t seem to happen until right before the game.

  • harrisonbarnes11

    Agreed Nick, if dex guards taylor, we win.

  • Tarheelsincebirth

    My wife graduated from Wisconsin, so she is a big Badger fan…
    It’s going to be a house divided. I’ll be having wine and cheese and she will be having beer and cheese. Actually, no it’s the other way around, which I think is very ironic…

    Go HEELS!!!!!!!

  • Andy In Omaha

    “If Strickland guards Jordan Taylor, we win.”
    Possibly, but UNC faces an issue MUCH bigger than just Jordan Taylor.
    As a team, Wisconsin shoots a whopping 47% from three. Not one person, that’s as a team. Their big shooter is Ben Brust, who is also their leading scorer. Brust shoots 48% from beyond the arc himself, Jorday Taylor about 45%, and they even have a guy named Josh Gasser who’s made 15/21 attempts (71%).
    Taylor might be too quick for Marshall to handle, but Taylor, Gasser, and Brust are all shorter. I don’t know what kind of burst Gasser and Brust have, but at the rate they can all shoot the three, I don’t know how effective Marshall would be against any of them.

  • Andy In Omaha

    “Officiating at home should favor UNC.”
    This isn’t Cameron, where sneezing on a Dookie will get them two shots automatically. I would prefer we run them out of the gym rather than relying on officiating.

  • Heel To The End

    like i said, if we double down off the 3 or 4 guys that can shoot/have shot the 3 so far, to help on their inferior interior players, i’m gonna have a major problem.

  • Thrawnyboy

    I’d like to see Barnes benched with Hairston starting for a couple of reasons.

    1) I want Barnes to be completely healthy before coming back, I don’t like seeing athletes playing injured. One game isn’t a huge deal, but exacerbating an injury could be.

    2) The inside presence Barnes brings isn’t useful when we already have two tall guys that are getting mobbed as opposing defenses collapse in on them. We need perimeter shooting, and right now Hairston seems to be the best at that.

    I know anything that isn’t wildly appreciative of Barnes is almost considered heresy, but I really think that this could be the best thing for the team this game.

  • I’ve gone back and forth on this one. From being really nervous about all of the strengths mentioned to thinking Wisconsin hasn’t faced anyone yet. I’m still not sure where I land. I do think the Heels will come out ready to play. It would be nice to see them put together the kind of game that Ohio State did last night on the big stage. I live in Columbus and can tell you that OSU hasn’t put it all together like they did last night all season. Sooner or later it will click for UNC and they will be scary good. Let’s hope it’s sooner….preferably around 9:30 and 12 on Saturday.

  • BoyWilliams

    A po-em glorifying both the UNC backcourt and my considerable skills with the ladies:

    Strick gonna stick on Jordan T
    just like all the fly ladies be stuck on me
    And Butta gonna drop them nasty dimes
    just like I drop c-notes on those girls of mine

  • hubie_4_3

    You’re my blue, Boy.

    As for Wisco, they are good and we are good. The team that is either able to establish tempo or able to best adjust to the other’s tempo should win. Our team is actually built to play well in half court (elite passer/decision-maker, solid bigs who can step out and pass, experience…). We have just not exercised patience consistently. I tend to think Bo Ryan’s boys will not easily be baited into running with us. So unless they shoot poorly or we are able to turn them over, we will not be able to get out as much as usual. So we’ll have to rebound better and make the extra pass in half-court. All of which we are perfectly capable of.

  • AZACCFan

    Andy In Omaha

    What I was hoping for is some consistent officiating that they are used to, as in ACC refs.

    Not trying to get all the calls.

    The officiating in the last several games has been all over the map, especially in what sort of contact is permitted.

    This has a big effect on the inside game.

  • AZACCFan


    I think Kendall Marshall said it well post UNLV when he commented “we panicked”. He was describing the start to the second half.

    The team (on their on without the benefit of a time out) had a hard time realizing that quick one on one plays were not getting it done for them.

  • hubie_4_3

    Yeah AZ, I don’t think our squad is really built for one-on-one. McCants could get away with it, but when the ball isn’t going in, bad shot selection affects other aspects of the game where we usually excel (rebounding, transition, free throw attempts). Even Barnes, who can score when closely guarded, is clearly more effective when operating out of the flow.

  • partsman5521

    I think back to last year when I believe it was VT (not 100% sure though) coming in with the best defensive record in the nation. And the outcome was “we destroyed them”. I think it was close to 100 points we scored on that defense. Before the game we all here was worried about us getting killed. DIDNOT HAPPEN. So as I leave my house for the hour and forty five minute drive to the Dome, I just hope my ride home will be with all smiles, as we blow the BAGGERS out of this state……

    GO HEELS……

  • 52bgJ

    the boys in the locker room know what they need to do. can they/will they is the question. just might be the right time for JMM to step up big and show someone the way to play big. agree that this will tell a lot. Go Heels!