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January 4, 2013

UNC - UVA Capsule

Basketball Preview
North Carolina vs. Virginia
Sunday, January 6, 2013
John Paul Jones Arena (14,593)
TV: ESPNU
Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network
(Sirius 138, XM 190)
Series: UNC leads 127-49

Virginia at a glance

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
Nickname: Cavaliers, Wahoos, 'Hoos
Colors: Orange & Blue
Conference: ACC
Arena: John Paul Jones Arena (14,593)
2011-2012 Record: 22-10 (9-7)
More on the Cavliers:
Schedule | Stats | Rosters | Rivals Site | Forums

Game Preview Thoughts

Contrasting styles
North Carolina and Virginia come into Saturday's ACC season opener with identical 10-3 records.  While the win-loss column is a mirror image the two teams taking the court will have vastly different approaches and philosophies on how to win a basketball game.

Under head coach Roy Williams North Carolina has traditionally played an up-tempo style hell-bent on running opponents of the court via fast breaks and constant substitutions.

With Tony Bennett patrolling the sidelines for Virginia, the Cavs have played basketball like they have to compete in a "Tough-Mudder" competition to score baskets.

North Carolina has averaged nearly 84 points a game this season.  Virginia has come in a tad below 65.  North Carolina attempts to bloat the number of possessions in a game the same way Oregon's football team does with an attacking offense and pressuring defense.  Virginia limits shot attempts by draining the shot clock down to its final ticks and making opponents capitalize on limited offensive opportunities.

While one style might be more entertaining than the other, it's hard to argue with the results of either.  Both maximize their team's strengths while exposing flaws in opponents.  Williams and Bennett have branded themselves as masters of these philosophies in the same way Jim Boeheim of Syracuse is associated with zone defense and Mike Krzyzewski with his man-to-man defense.

Joe Harris, Virginia guard
Joe Harris is Virginia's leading scorer but he isn't the most athletic player to grace the hardwood.  That's not intended as a jab at Harris but should be noted since Harris will be harassed by a variety of athletic defenders (Bullock, Strickland and McDonald) as he fights through screens and attempts to get his shots off.

Match-up to watch: James Michael McAdoo vs. Akil Mitchell
McAdoo was on a lot of people's short list for preseason ACC Player of the Year and hasn't done much to have his name taken off those lists (14.8 PPG, 8.3 RPG).

Mitchell (13.2 PPG, 9.2 RPG) leads the Cavs in rebounding and should be focused on extensively by the Tar Heels in rebounding situations.  North Carolina has struggled on the boards at times this season (0 rebounds by a front-court player against East Carolina University) and Mitchell will go after loose balls hard and successfully if North Carolina lets him.

McAdoo has been asked to shoulder a lot of responsibility this season.  He draws a ton of attention on the offensive end but for this game his biggest contribution could come on the glass.

North Carolina's 2
nd half performances
In short, North Carolina hasn't played well in the second half this season.

There have been several games where the Tar Heels have looked like world-beaters in the first half (East Tennessee State, East Carolina University and UNLV) and allowed the other team to make it an unnecessarily close game with a poor performance in the second half.

Virginia's slow down game won't allow North Carolina many chances to get back on track if the Tar Heels fall behind late in the game.  Virginia's down-tempo style will suffocate North Carolina's final opportunities the way an anaconda squeezes out the last few breathes of its prey.

In other words, North Carolina will have to make every possession count because Virginia will force them to.  A second-half collapse could cost them their ACC opener.

Playing without Reggie Bullock
Reggie Bullock missed the UNLV game with a concussion.  If Bullock can't go against Virginia expect P.J. Hairston to replace him in the starting line-up for the second straight game.

Hairston has averaged 12.4 PPG and 4.5 RPG largely as a reserve.  He scored 15 points against UNLV and could begin making the argument that he should be the fifth starter for the Tar Heels.

Coach Williams has been inconsistent about that last starting spot, making it available to Brice Johnson, J.P. Tokoto, Joel James and Desmond Hubert throughout the season.  If nobody grabs it emphatically and if Hairston is successful in Bullock's absence, maybe when Bullock gets back Hairston won't start future games beside Williams on the bench.

Looking at it from another angle, Bullock's missing production gives the young Tar Heels their own chance to step-up.  Sometimes when a team needs other players to increase production while a star player sits with an injury, it allows that team to become deeper once the star returns.

Prediction
UNC 70 Virginia 58
Virginia hasn't played the level of competition North Carolina has at this point in the season.  Although North Carolina hasn't fared particularly well in its marquee games (Indiana, Butler and Texas) they won a tough game against UNLV the last time out.

That victory came at the perfect time just before the ACC schedule tips off.  If North Carolina knocks off Virginia on the road it would be the team's best win thus far.  There would be plenty of chances to top it, of course, but with so many inexperienced players being relied upon these are the kinds of firsts you'd like to go ahead and get under the belt.

Virginia will do enough to keep it close early but in a surprise twist to an early season trend North Carolina's depth, athleticism and overall talent will eventually overcome the tactfulness of Tony Bennett's game plan and perceiver with a second half surge that puts the game out of reach for the Cavaliers.
North Carolina
(10-3, 0-0)
AP - NR, USA Today - NR, RPI - 24

Head Coach - Roy Williams (267-71 at UNC; 685-172 Overall)

Last starting line-up for North Carolina (against UNLV)

Desmond Hubert Forward
James Michael McAdoo Forward
Dexter Strickland Guard
P.J. Hairston Guard
Marcus Paige Guard

Stats

(Team)

Points: 83.4 PPG
(4th Overall)

 
Rebounds: 44.8 RPG
(3rd Overall)

Assists: 19.5 APG
(1st Overall)

Field goal percentage: .458 FG
(81st Overall)

(Individual)

Scoring: James Michael McAdoo (14.8 PPG) Reggie Bullock (13.1 PPG)

Rebounding: James Michael McAdoo (8.3 RPG) Reggie Bullock (5.7 RPG)

Assists: Dexter Strickland (4.5 PPG) Marcus Paige (4.3 PPG

Virginia
10-3 (0-0)
AP - NR, USA Today - NR, RPI - 149

Head Coach - Tony Bennett (61-42 at UVA; 130-75 Overall)

Stats

(Team)

Points: 64.8 (242nd overall)

Rebounds: 34.3 (217th overall)

Assists: 15.3 (64th overall)

Field goal percentage: .462 (57th overall)

(Individual)

Scoring: Joe Harris (15 PPG) Akil Mitchell (13.2 PPG)

Rebounding:  Akil Mitchell (9.2 RPG) Darion Atkins (4.8 RPG)

Assists: Jontel Evans (2.8 APG) Joe Harris (2 APG) 

Last starting line-up for Virginia (against Wofford)

Akil Mitchell Forward
Darion Atkins Forward
Joe Harris Guard
Paul Jesperson Guard
Teven Jones Guard



 

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