Alex Conway & John Gwaltney Jr
UNC might be rearing at the bit to play Saturday afternoon
after having their rivalry game with Duke postponed by over a
week. Or, they might have their entire schedule thrown out of
That's what makes this game against Pittsburgh quite
interesting. It's not very often that basketball games are
affected by weather and certainly not in the southeast by the
likes of snow.
But the snowmageddon brought a halt to one of college
basketball's most anticipated nights and now the focus must shift to
UNC's first ACC matchup with the Pittsburgh Panthers and their top-5
conference scorer Lamar Patterson.
Can UNC refocus on the task at hand or will there be some
lingering effects from the weather delays this week? Let's take a
look at some of the storylines heading into Saturday afternoon's
Worthy Adevsaries Deserve Respect
Pittsburgh is a formidable team that could put a screeching halt
to the red-hot Tar Heels' five-game winning streak. UNC is riding
high after a rough start to their conference schedule but with just
eight regular season games remaining, they'll face their toughest
completion over these next few weeks.
The Tar Heels main focus will be slowing down the production of
the Panthers' best player, Lamar Patterson. Patterson is in the
top-five of the ACC leaderboard in points and assists with his
averages of 17 points per game and 4.4 assists per game.
Patterson has struggled a bit over the last two games, shooting a
low percentage from the field at just 21 percent and scoring a total
of 19 points combined against No. 1 ranked Syracuse and
bottom-of-the-pack Virginia Tech.
He might be due for a breakout performance and that's something
that has to concern UNC.
This is another chance for Roy Williams to stick
J.P. Tokoto on a scorer and see if he can be the kind of
one-on-one shutdown perimeter defender he thinks Tokoto can be. If
he can stop gambling on defense and getting himself into foul
trouble, he's got the skills to do it but hasn't put it together
The Panthers are also really good at sharing the basketball. They
come in at No. 20 nationally in assists per game and have two guys,
Patterson and James Robinson that average over four assists
per contest. The only other team in the ACC that can make that claim
is Notre Dame.
Both teams should be highly motivated after both teams had the
chance to get a big win on a national stage taken away from them
Wednesday night. UNC lost their opportunity due to weather while
Syracuse's Tyler Ennis ripped victory out of Pittsburgh's
hands with a long buzzer beater to keep the Orange undefeated.
Williams has been pretty good about keeping UNC focused on the
task at hand considering how young this team is but they are still a
youthful bunch with a wondering eye. Let's see if Pittsburgh gets
their full attention Saturday or if UNC comes out sloppy like they
did at the beginning of ACC play.
good team will take it one game at a time but that doesn't mean the
fans should. Half the fun is prognosticating and thus we shall do
With the Duke game postponement, that means UNC will now have the
following schedule over the next eight games:
Home against a hungry and angry Pittsburgh, on the road against
Florida State in a venue they've had trouble at in the past, at home
against Duke, at home against Wake Forest, a team they lost to once
this season, back-to-back road games against rivals N.C. State and
Wake Forest, hosting Notre Dame and then wrapping it up at Cameron
That's a slate of games that can determine if UNC is anywhere
from a No. 5 seed to a No. 12 seed in the NCAA tournament depending
on how they handle it.
It's also the type of schedule that will give UNC fans something
special to remember in a few years or give them headaches and
heartbreak for days to come. Based on the competition their facing,
they could pass Duke and Pittsburgh in the ACC standings and get as
high as No. 3 heading into the ACC tournament.
A strong showing in Greensboro could produce a drastically
different picture for the Tar Heels than the one they are currently
painting as an unranked team lurking in the shadows riding a hot
streak that nobody nationally is really talking about.
Talib Zanna has put up some monster games in the ACC
this season. A lot of those performances have come against the
conference's elite squads, making them even more impressive.
In two games against Syracuse, Zanna put up 12 points and 11
rebounds the first time out and 16 points, 14 rebounds on Wednesday
the second time out. Against Duke he had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
He also had a double-double against Wake Forest when he had 16
points and 14 rebounds and in all four of those games combined he
had seven blocked shots.
vs. North Carolina
Date: Saturday, February 15, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM EST Venue:
Dean E. Smith Center (21,750) TV:CBS Radio:Tar Heel Sports
Network & SiriusXM (Sirius
134/XM 190) Series: UNC leads the all-time series with Pitt, 7-1. Last Meeting: UNC beat Pitt, 82-62, in Chapel Hill on
November 29, 1996.
Pittsburgh at a glance Location:
Pittsburgh, Pa. Nickname:
Blue & Gold Conference:
Peterson Events Center (12,508) 2012-2013 Record:
24-9 (12-6 Big East) Last Game:
Pitt lost, 58-56, to #1 Syracuse on Wednesday night as Tyler Ennis
nailed a game-winning three-pointer for the Orange with no-time left. More on the Panthers: Schedule
| Stats |
Roster Official Site |
Last starting line-up
C - Talib Zanna F - Lamar Patterson F - Michael Young
G - James Robinson G - Cameron Wright
It will be interesting to see who gets the start opposite
James Michael McAdoo in the frontcourt. It will likely be
Kennedy Meeks if the last few weeks have any indication on
it but Williams still is persistent that nobody has made that spot
theirs. It could still fall on the shoulders of Brice Johnson.
Whoever gets the nod will have to face one of the ACC's better
big men and again, he has a propensity for showing up big against
the ACC's premier teams. That person will have a chance to make a
big statement to their head coach about where they'd like to see
their name written on the depth chart going forward based on their
afternoon meeting with Zanna Saturday in Chapel Hill.