If the North Carolina Tar Heels and the defending National Champions the Louisville Cardinals meet (as expected) in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip Off, it will be the first major test of the season for both squads.
Entering this potential match-up both teams will still have some questions marks, but for the Tar Heels this will be a great chance to answer a couple of theirs. Louisville is a big physical team, so one of the centers on the UNC roster must be able to bang down low and hold their own on the boards. Speaking of big men Junior forward James Michael McAdoo will have a chance to show off his off-season improvements in a big time early season clash. McAdoo will arguably be the most athletic player on the ( and that saying something) but if he slows down, take better shots as well as use his superior athleticism defensively and to grab more boards, it could be a long night for the Cardinals.
Sophomore point guard Marcus Paige will be challenged in this one also. All off-season we’ve heard numerous stories about Paige bulking up, well this game will give the first true chance to see how much stronger he’s really gotten. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino loves to pressure the ball, so it will be vital that Marcus holds up physically because, he’ll just be asked to run the show, score some points and play a little “D”.
Although they’re returning 3 starters from a National Championship team, Louisville has a few question marks themselves. The heart and soul of the team point guard Peyton Siva is gone, so who’s going to play the point? Many would say that Senior guard Russ Smith is likely to slide over and play the “one”, but he’s never saw a shot he didn’t like. Others would say Junior guard Kevin Ware could get the nod as the floor general , but he’s returning from a gruesome leg injury and may not be ready this early in the season. Forwards Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear are one of the best duo in the country. Center Gorgui Dieng is gone but Sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell is a beast on both ends and will likely claim the final starting spot.
This game will be an early measuring stick for both teams. If Carolina can match the Cardinals physicality and P.J. Hairston plays…UNC can win this game and make a major statement doing so!