The North Carolina basketball Tar Heels have won 3 straight ACC games since losing on the road to NC State. This week they have to play 2 top 10 teams on the road at Miami and at Duke. Let’s look at the key statistics that have helped the Tar Heels win 3 straight and that they will need to focus on in order to win 2 more.
I hate to keep beating the dead horse in my articles but free throw shooting is something that is very important. In the last 3 games, the Heels have been highly inconsistent. The good news is that they have been getting to the free throw line 20+ times a game. They shot 20 against Boston College, 27 against Virginia Tech and 25 against Wake Forest. The bad news is that their percentage has not been where they need it to be. They shot 75% and 70% against BC and VT but dropped to Shaq-status at 56% in the Wake Forest game. Shooting 56% against a top tier team is not going to cut it. In the Tar Heels’ first game against Miami this year, they shot a mere 8 free throws. On Saturday they will have to visit the charity stripe a lot more often.
The other thing shooting-wise that has become a UNC staple this year has been 3-point shooting. It is well-known that any team that shoots a lot of 3-pointers has an off-night from time to time. So let’s hope that is what happened against Virginia Tech. The Heels shot 5-24 in that game. It’s astounding that they were able to pull that game off (it must have been those 19 offensive rebounds). In the other 2 games they shot 54% and 60%. They will definitely need to shoot that well to beat 2 ranked teams back-to-back.
A great statistic to look at for the Heels is the other side of the 3-point shooting. Their defensive intensity has helped tremendously on opponents’ 3-point percentage. The best shooting performance of any of the 3 teams was Boston College at 35%. This is a great sign since North Carolina has to play Duke on Wednesday, a team well-known for shooting the long-ball.
Finally, the Tar Heels have been consistent in passing the ball. They rank 2nd in the nation in assists per game. During their 3-game winning streak they are averaging over 18 assists per game. Their transition offense has gotten a lot smoother, just as typical Roy Williams basketball does. If they can keep up their stellar outside shooting and a great assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.35, they should continue to score around 80 points per game and ultimately become a nationally ranked team next week.