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#3 UNC vs Miami

Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Tuesday, January 10th, 9:00 PM
TV: ACC Network
Records: UNC 14-2, 1-0 ACC; Miami 9-5, 0-1 ACC

Anyone up for giving Jim Larranaga some payback?

In case you forgot Larranaga was the head coach of George Mason in 2006 when the Patriots went to the Final Four claiming UNC as a victim along the way. Now Larranaga is at Miami having left George Mason for an ACC job(and succeeded by Paul Hewitt after he left Georgia Tech, do try and keep up.) So far the results have been mixed despite the prediction of a top five finish in the league.

Some of those results can be tied to the fact Miami has not been completely healthy. Center Reggie Johnson did not return from a preseason knee injury until five games ago. Dequean Cook sat out the first ten games in connection with the NCAA’s investigation into Nevin Shapiro. Guard Malcolm Grant has also missed a couple of games. In that respect the Canes are stilling coming together as a team and Johnson is nowhere near game shape to be as effective as he was last season.

Regardless, Johnson will be enough of  a physical presence to give Tyler Zeller and John Henson problems as will Florida transfer Kenny Kadji. The real match-ups to watch will be on the perimeter where Grant and point guard Durand Scott will give the Heels all they want. Scott has plenty of speed and Grant is the leading scorer for Miami shooting 35% from three. That presents an interesting problem for the Heels given Kendall Marshall defensive deficiencies. If an opposing team has one solid guard, Dexter Strickland does the defensive work. Miami has two which will put pressure on Marshall to guard the ball well and on other defenders to rotate when help is required. Miami’s offense is good enough to score and challenge the Tar Heel defense.

The Heels offense, on the other hands, outclasses the Miami defense in terms of efficiency. Miami brings the 137th best defense into this game versus a top ten offense. Miami also prefers a slower pace opting for a full ten possessions fewer than UNC. Unlike teams such as Wisconsin, Boston College or Virginia where the offense is dependent on the slower tempo, Miami strikes me as a team that can be loosened up a little in terms of pace which should work to UNC’s favor.

After all the intensity talk, this is the sort of game that should bring out the focused Heels.

UNC 94 Miami 68

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38 comments to #3 UNC vs Miami

  • wb3

    These guys always seem to give us a tough time. Hope tonight is different.

  • Moustache

    All that matters in this game is this:


    That is all.

    Let Johnson get 40 and 20 for all I care. He can’t beat the Heels, even if our bigs do run scared from physical players.

    Guard the Three = easy win.

    That being said, I do like the new, feistier Zeller…I think getting shoved around by the BC goons helped to fire him up…maybe Koach K can loan Roy Patrick Davidson (?) to hack Z a few times before each game to get his mind right!

  • LarryS

    Miami is much better than BC, and I would be tickled if UNC scored 94 points and won by 26.

    Considering how close the Miami games were last year, and how us coming from 19 down to win at the buzzer in the ACCT probably really stung, they should be fired up tonight.

  • Yes but Miami is not full strength at this point. Reggie Johnson is out of shape and they are still working some things out as a team operating with a new head coach. I think a focused Tar Heel team could very well blow them out in this game but I would probably take your view of it when they play at Miami in a few weeks.

  • gso_tarheel

    94-68 is a bold prediction THF…I like it! I hope that is the kind of game we see. But, I’ll say 85-71 UNC.

  • LarryS

    ^^Those are valid points, and I hope you’re right. A well-focused game like that would be a good way to send them off to Tallahassee this weekend.

    But even considering Miami’s not clicking yet, and Reggie Johnson has probably broken most of the scales he’s been using lately, they still have better quality players than last Sat., and their best ones are upperclassmen who are likely vested in wanting to beat Carolina. I expect them to give a good effort, if not a picturesque performance.

  • PRGuy

    I’m predicting a foul-heavy game with lots of free throws. Won’t be decided by FTs, but at some point opponents are going to capitalize on the Heel’s less than stellar FT shooting percentage.

  • Moustache

    Guard the 3.

    just sayin’.

  • LarryS

    C’mon. I know you can be more creative in stating the obvious than…..stating the obvious.

  • Wilf

    I’m expecting a close game, and I hope I’m wrong.

  • jtchill84

    Here’s a quantitative version of the obvious. 38% of Miami’s fg attempts this season have been 3′s. In other words roughly 2 out of every 5 shots is a three. (By comparison around 20% of our attempts are 3′s, or 1 in 5). If they’re making them, we could be in for a long night. If they’re not (for whatever reason, but good D could contribute), then we’ll more than likely blow them out as THF predicted.

  • BoyWilliams

    Here’s my prediction: Heels DON’T guard the 3 very well, Moustache goes off on a rampage & gets banned by THF.

    …or am I stating the obvious?

    (No ill wishes, Moustache…just reading the tea leaves)

  • LarryS

    ^^I like quantitative

    Here’s more:

    -Miami gets 33% of its points from 3 (UNC 19%)

    -Miami made 22 3-pointers in the last two games we’ve played

    -Miami’s 3 pt. % (38.4%) is #3 in conference

  • Break it down more:

    In their four games against teams in KenPom’s T100, UM is shooting 33.3% from three and they are 0-4.

    In their other 10 games they are shooting 40.4% from three, and are 9-1.

    Also, is UNC holding teams to just 30.5% from behind the arc and is 4-2 against KenPom’s T100…

  • Moustache

    Thanks, BoyWilliams!

    Expecting the Heels to guard the three is like expecting Gary Williams to apply adequate antiperspirant.

    I know better.

  • “Miami made 22 3-pointers in the last two games we’ve played”

    True, but they only made 9 in the ACCT (34.6%). What really killed UNC in that game was the fact that they had a season’s worst TO% of 31.2. I have a very hard time seeing that happening tonight.

  • LarryS

    “Also, is UNC holding teams to just 30.5% from behind the arc and is 4-2 against KenPom’s T100…”

    That 30.5% 3pt.D is good enough for 56th, nationally, and is better than Syracuse, Kentucky, Indiana, and Missouri, for example, and only .3% behind Ohio State.

    In other words as good, or better, than most all the NC suspects.

    “True, but they only made 9 in the ACCT (34.6%). What really killed UNC in that game was the fact that they had a season’s worst TO% of 31.2. I have a very hard time seeing that happening tonight.”

    That’s right, the made 3′s don’t tell the whole story of the Miami games, or for a lot of games where UNC has given up 3′s and won. My point was to emphasize the priority Miami has for this part of their game, and the obvious benefit to defending it reasonably well.


  • ^And don’t forget Duke, who is at #176 (34.3%) in 3P% defense… ;)

  • LarryS

    ^True. Duke was so far down the page I got tired of scrolling.

  • 850inExile aka UNC RAJ

    Don’t forget the wildcard: Miami has a new coach. I don’t know much about him and haven’t seen Miami play this year. Does anybody know if his style of play is similar to or different from Haith’s sytle of play?

    How does Miami’s ppg, possessions per game and % of shot attempts from 3 point range compare this year with last year?

  • scl11

    I’m not as optimistic on a blowout, I think this is a close one for 35min.

    UNC 87
    UM 74

  • “How does Miami’s ppg, possessions per game and % of shot attempts from 3 point range compare this year with last year?”

    Almost identical, across the board.

  • LarryS

    “How does Miami’s ppg, possessions per game and % of shot attempts from 3 point range compare this year with last year”

    Very similar……like right on the button.

    Even the offensive efficiency is identical.

  • Heel To The End

    which is it, a board or a button??

  • This game will provide Roy teachable lessons in next practice. I have been looking forward to this game to see how UNC has improved against a good 2 guard offense since the UNLV game.

    My prediction. 81 to 77 UNC wins.

  • William, where have you been man?

  • LarryS

    So we’ve got 26, 14, 13, and 4 point-margin predictions so far. Throw out the high and low, olympic style, and 13 or 14 looks about right. (The spread favors UNC by 16…..not sure what kind of score Pomeroy predicts)

  • faustus1500

    I have to agree with scl11. I think it will be closer. I think

    UNC 81
    Miami 72.

  • rathskellar68

    Yes, Virginia, it is possible to get the ACC Network in Hawaii, and it only took 40 minutes on the phone with some guy from Oceanic Time Warner who was trying to be helpful but must have been on his first day on the job.

    Needless to say, if we don’t win this thing I’m really going to be ticked.

    But we will win, 83-70.

  • ^^^ KenPom is at 85-68.

    Jon Pence, over at SCACCHoops, simmed the contest 27 times and came up with an aggregate score of 84-69.


    Told me that, over the last 2 years, the game sim is hitting about 0.850 when it comes to calling the game straight-up.

  • AZACCFan

    A huge key for this game is the same for the entire conference schedule: get off to a good start. It doesn’t matter if the score is close for the first 10-20 points. Just don’t fall behind.

    When the team starts firing on all cylinders and has the offense working, it has proven easy to put the hurt on most opponents. I think that the guys have realized this and how much easier it is to lead than have to claw back deficits in the second half.

    It has been the combination of solid defense focused on the other team’s strength combined with transition offense and prudent 3 point shooting that have worked well thus far.

    Plenty of discussion has occurred on the subject of team toughness, however this team has been starting games and playing the first half (at least until they have a ridiculous lead) with passion.

    Another area to watch is Free Throw shooting. I believe that this is going to improve from now on as well. Due to better concentration and more opportunities for the top eight.

  • william

    I honestly would like to see some of these teams turn out to be better than they now look.

    Never forget the paradox of sports. Sports become boring when there is a paucity of worthy challengers. 2005 was a great season, and UNC faced some primo teams that year and most of the games were must-see. Clemson, NC State and GIT were all good, while Wake and Duke were top five. Illinois may have been better than we were over the course of the season.

    This year has been strange in that UNC has played a decent schedule on the top end, but there haven’t been some of the interesting mid-majors that we have scheduled in other years. Williams is running players in and out, as is his wont, and as is necessary with a team of such diverse talents, and it is hard to find any fault whatsoever in how he is using his players.

    Nevertheless, the substitution scheme makes it hard for me to bond with this team, at least up to this point. One thing that I have noted is that I tend to remember the great teams that use fewer players, like in 1982 and 1993 and 1998. Scott Cherry had to play significant minutes against Michigan in 1993. That is how thin that squad was. There is certainly no Scott Cherry equivalent on this year’s squad, just a long list of excellent student athletes with comparable talents.

    While I don’t believe at all in the hoary myth of a good loss, I do believe that losses can be good for business. The NFL made out like gangbusters when the AFL Jets beat the mighty Colts. The ACC needs to find some other stories besides UNC and Duke, now that the programs at Wake, Maryland, NC State and UVa have all receded from the top ten positions that they previously occupied in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 00s.

    Yeah, Duke and UNC is great, but things were much more interesting when UNC only had two titles and Duke was just starting back to be our main rival, and games in Charlottesville, Raleigh, College Park and Atlanta were all treacherous.

    UNC went undefeated in conference my senior year (before tanking in the tourney) and it wasn’t particularly compelling. I think UVa was about the only team that gave us much of a game at all, although we lost a couple out of conference, sort of like this year. The feeling was a bit like I felt Saturday and tonight. If UNC loses to BC or Miami, it is not particularly interesting because it seems to mean UNC didn’t show up.

    Maybe it is time to take the original 8 teams before FSU and the others entered the league, and refashion a basketball conference, maybe adding Vanderbilt-oh wait, Syracuse and Pitt are coming to save our basketball. At this point, they are almost welcome.

  • AZACCFan

    There is going to have to be some sort of partitioning of the schedule with more teams in this conference. The core would be North Carolina schools and then radiate outward. The old tournaments when these schools played preseason against each other albeit from a different era were very popular.

    Random games against so many teams make fan interest lower and weaker opponents with an expectation of near certain victory do not get the fan base as excited.

    While the conference as a whole is weaker and there has been lots of coaching turnover, there are at least 6 other schools that yearn to be competitive in Basketball in the ACC. They have done it before. We need to support them doing it again.

    The best basketball game I ever saw was the ACC Tournament championship game between Maryland and NC State. This was the last year that winning the tournament was the only way to keep playing. Double overtime, NC State wins and Maryland almost secedes from the union. Now that was exciting.

  • gso_tarheel

    The ACC is fixing itself slowly but surely. Many of the coaches who came in the last two years are high quality. And I really feel the ACC this year, although down, will improve throughout the year and give us fits. More than half of the games on the schedule have potential to be close (UVA twice, Miami twice, dook twice, at VT, at FSU and at NCSU).

  • UNCmonkey

    I dunno man - I’m actually hoping to see a competitive game - I mean blow-outs can be fun and all - and they are certainly better for my blood pressure - but the games I really enjoy watching - and the ones we remember and tell tales about to our friends and kids and nephews et al are the CLOSE ones - the ones that keep you on the edge of your seat the whole way - back-and-forth affairs - living and dying on every shot - holding your breath as the last second prayer is launched just seconds before the buzzer (hopefully by a desperate Miami team hoping to tie the score ;P). Those games are why we watch college ball IMO - honestly I’ve had just about enough blow-outs already on this 9 game home-stand; I’m ready for some stiffer competition and I hope the heels are too!

    My prediction? I think Miami has enough talent to push us, enough size to frustrate us, and enough athleticism to run and compete with us - but not enough depth to last. I’m gonna say UNC by 10-12, extending a small lead late by virtue of improving FT shooting and defensive rebounding on missed 3s by UM, in what was otherwise a closely contested game - somewhere in the 86-74 neighborhood.
    GO HEELS!!

  • LarryS

    “Never forget the paradox of sports. Sports become boring when there is a paucity of worthy challengers.”

    I suspect most sports fans get tired of seeing the same team, or person, win all the time. Unless you happen to be a fanatic for that team, or like witnessing dominance or dynasties.(I confess to wanting to see Tiger Woods win every tournament a few years back)

    Worthy challengers not only make it more interesting for the most people, but are necessary for the very good teams to become great ones.

    That’s why I hope teams like Miami tonight, and beyond, really show up to play and get better themselves, and challenge UNC to be more of what it can be.

    ^Good post, uncmonkey. That’s when basketball is the most fun for me too.

  • william

    The ACC had a remarkable period from 1970-1978, as someone mentioned above, and that was even with South Carolina leaving after 1971. You also did not have the constant coverage, which made you want not to miss any of the televised match-ups.

  • Moustache

    Guard the three.


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