North Carolina (14-6, 4-3) vs. Virginia Tech (11-9, 2-5) Saturday 12pm at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill NC on the ACC Network.
The Tar Heels have won four of the last five games after starting the conference season 0-2 most recently with a bounce back win over Boston College on the road. They return home for a very important two game stretch against the Hokies and Wake Forest before two tough games on the road against Duke and Miami.
By the numbers: UNC leads the ACC in scoring and are ranked 7th in the nation; the Hokies are last in the conference in scoring defense. Now I didn’t major in mathematics but I’m pretty certain that favors Carolina. UNC is far superior in almost every statistical category. Outside of Erik Green & Jarell Eddie this team struggles to score; combined the two teams average 40 of the teams 73.8 ppg, Green leads the nation at 25.5ppg and will be a handful for Carolina’s perimeter defense. UNC out rebounds VT 42.2-37.8, has more than a seven assists per game advantage 18.4-11.2, they steal the ball at almost double the rate in which the Hokies do 8.5-4.4 yet commit 3.3 less fouls per game 15.1-18.4.
Roads Traveled: This season VT haven’t just been losing, they have been losing despite having a weak schedule with national ranking of 149 in RPI and 110 strength of schedule (UNC is 30 and 26th). After starting the season 7-0 the Hokies have dropped nine of their last 13 games in a wild season for ACC basketball. While UNC lacks a great resume with only a couple of quality wins, VT has zero wins of note and after feasting on lower grade competition early in the season they have lost to the likes of Boston College and Georgia Southern.
-1/+1: P.J. Hairston will almost certainly sit out today’s game after suffering a concussion against Boston College. Hairston didn’t practice this week and Roy Williams said on Friday that he was 95% sure he wouldn’t play. Meanwhile Leslie McDonald returns after a six game absence. McDonald re-injured his knee and sat out three games with the injury but was suspended by the team immediately following for an additional three games.
Similar styles: The Hokies also like to play an uptempo brand of basketball and like to get out in transition. What they don’t want to do however is play as fast as UNC who would take every shot inside of five seconds if it were up solely to Roy Williams.
Prediction: Virginia Tech’s shaky defense will not be able to handle Carolina who will win by double digits 80-70