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#5 UNC vs Elon

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Thursday, December 29th, 7:00 PM
Records: UNC 11-2; Elon 7-4

Time to get back to work.

UNC returns to the court following an eight day layoff after beating Texas by 19 on December 21st. The team returned to Chapel Hill and began practicing again two days ago so it is probable they will be a little rusty for this one. Then again so should Elon which last played seven days ago on the road at San Diego St. For this one the Phoenix only needs to make the short trip down I-40 to Chapel Hill. Oh and if you are wondering what connection brought about the scheduling of this game, former Tar Heel walk-on from the 2008 and 2009 teams, Jack Wooten, is an assistant on the Elon staff.

Statistically speaking, Elon presents a slightly more difficult test than previous teams in the 200 or worse range on KenPom. Of course KenPom still gives UNC a 98% chance of winning the game so it actually may not prove that difficult at all. What the Texas game has taught us in comparison to the games prior to it versus bad teams is these Tar Heels bring it when the stakes are higher. When the stakes are low or the opponent is clearly overmatched, they back of the accelerator a bit. Roy Williams is probably not happy with this approach but that seems to be how this particularly group is geared. There is also the rotation and the fact Roy won’t play his starters more than 20-25 minutes in games like this unlike over at Kentucky where starters are putting in over 30 mins in fairly inconsequential games.

On the other hand, perhaps they will approach this game and the next one versus Monmouth as an opportunity to ramp up to conference play and hit the ground running. I know there will be some fan grumbling if the Harrison Barnes from then Texas game doesn’t start making more frequent appearances. However there is a clear pattern to these games for UNC which involves taking control of the game at some point which a huge run then cruising the rest of the way with the bench playing most of the final ten minutes.

UNC 97 Elon 66


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6 comments to #5 UNC vs Elon

  • “Of course KenPom still gives UNC a 98% chance of winning the game so it actually may not prove that difficult at all.”

    UNC, at least according to KenPom, actually has a greater chance of losing this game (2%), then they will against BC (1%). How sad is that??

  • AZACCFan

    It will take starting the ACC schedule to get a real guage of how the team will do this year. The next two games are going to be tough to lose and BC is not having even a mediocre year.

    So it may be even into mid January before UNC faces a real significant challenge again.

    But rest assured that there are challenging teams on the horizon. It just is unclear when they will meet. So continuing to work on the getting better as a team is important. Simple things like free throws and rebounding are obvious. Getting certain players more involved in the offense would be great as well.

  • LarryS

    “UNC, at least according to KenPom, actually has a greater chance of losing this game (2%), then they will against BC (1%). How sad is that??”

    Very sad, though hopefully this will be the ACC’s bottom-out year, and it will begin an ascent.

    On paper, and looking at performances, BC appears to be in for a bad year. But by the time it’s all over, and W-L records aside, I have a hard time thinking they won’t be any better than Elon.

    That one really good year Donahue had at Cornell was accomplished with practically all seniors. This year he has practically all freshmen, and none of very high recruiting caliber at that.

    Whether he’ll be able to accomplish at BC what he did at Cornell, at least as far as getting to the big dance, remains to be seen, but there will definitely be some growing pains.

  • AZACCFan

    There are so many new coaches in the ACC that realistically it will take 3-4 seasons for real strength of conference to redevelop. I am afraid that the modern college environment is just not going to make it an easier with early departure of many of the best players as well.

  • LarryS

    One would think that early departures of first-round NBA talent would make it easier for everyone else to compete, at least compete on a level where you can consistently get to the NCAAT and not be on the bubble every year. And especially in a conference as traditional and high-profile as the ACC .

    Recruiting is one thing (some coaches depend on it more than others), but good coaching, and getting the most out of teams with less top talent, is what it’s really about. This is where we’ll see if the new batch of ACC coaches has what it takes.


    I guess my sidetracking makes it seem I’m disinterested in the Elon and Monmouth-type matchups - I’m not because I love watching the Heels play, and establish various benchmarks for improvement - but, frankly, I’m ready for conference.

  • AZACCFan

    High coach and player turnover eventually weaken team and conference strength. It is extremely difficult to maintain a depth of talent needed to compete well out of conference as well as in conference.

    These days TV revenue is supreme and to get that and the image associated with excellence, teams have to have core strength with experienced players. As talented as the last two years of Kentucky teams have been, it is almost impossible to win national championships with freshmen and a few sophomores. Yes UNC did lose to KY. However, if they play later in the year it could be a very different proposition.

    Since it takes 3-4 years to bring in a new coaching program and to allow that coach to recruit for his style of play, it is going to be a while for conference rebuilding to take place. I think NC State has made some huge strides this year, and I hope they play UNC hard and that the games are well contested. It will help the conference as a whole for more teams to have strong seasons, even the noisy neighbors.