North Carolina faces a tough test in the ACC Big Ten Challenge later tonight in the Michigan State Spartans. MSU will face the Heels in East Lansing at 9:00 EST on Wednesday night in front of a packed house at the Breslin Center. The Tar Heels are coming off of a tough loss against UAB and would be back on track with a win against Michigan State. MSU is ranked number one in the country and survived an early season test against Kentucky in the Champions Classic. Here is some information about the UNC Michigan State game and some analysis to get you ready for tip off late Wednesday evening.
Game Information- North Carolina vs. Michigan State
Start Time: 9:00 Eastern Time
Commentators for TV: Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas
Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network
Commentators for Radio: Jones Angell (play-by-play,) Eric Montross (analyst)
Location: Breslin Center, East Lansing, Michigan
Live Stream: Watch ESPN app
Rankings in Coaches Poll: UNC 25th, MSU 1st
Michigan State Spartans
Colors: Green and White
Key Wins: Virginia Tech, Kentucky
Points: G. Harris- 17.7 per game
Rebounds: B. Dawson- 9.7 per game
Assists: K. Appling- 5.6 per game
Biased Fun Fact: UNC has won the last six meetings over MSU.
North Carolina Tar Heels
Colors: Blue and White
Key Wins: Louisville, Richmond
Key Losses: Belmont, UAB
Points: M. Paige- 20.8 per game
Rebounds: B. Johnston- 7.2 per game
Assists: M. Paige- 3.8 per game
Biased Fun Fact: UNC beat Michigan State to win the 2009 National Championship.
Things to Watch
1) Will James Michael McAdoo show up?
JMM came into this season with high expectations from Carolina fans hoping he would greatly improve from last season. We outlined what we wanted to see McAdoo improve on this summer, but so far he has seemingly only gotten worse. Forced into playing small forward, JMM looks lost and confused out on the floor. His 3-13 shooting performance against UAB serves as ample evidence. He thinks way to much before he moves on the court and quite honestly looks like a rookie struggling to adjust to life in the NBA. This isn’t the type of behaviors that you should see from the junior leader of your basketball team. The Heels need him to contribute 18 and 11 every single game, and so far, he hasn’t posted anywhere near that production. If UNC wants to pull off the upset, McAdoo has to have a big game.
2) Rebounding margins
Against UAB, UNC got out rebounded by a shocking margin. UAB got 10 more offensive rebounds than the Heels last weekend, not something you would expect from a team whose strengths lies in its interior depth. UNC has to really control the boards against MSU if they want to win because those rebounds fuel the offense. Defensive rebounds allow UNC to get out in transition, where they excel, and offensive boards give the offense much needed extra lives to score points. Look for Bryce Johnston and Kennedy Meeks to be the key to controlling the boards for Carolina on Wednesday night.
3) Who steps up next to Marcus Paige
Paige has took it upon himself this season to lead UNC this season on and off the court. But he will face a tough Sparty defense and have Keith Appling, an excellent on-ball defender, guarding him tightly the entire game. He will have his hands full Wednesday, since he already isn’t the type of player that can do it all himself. Paige isn’t really that great at creating his own shot. Instead, he needs open jumpers to score points effectively.
The best example of this was the last play in the UAB game. UNC really only has one outside shooter in Paige, so UAB knew Marcus would be getting the ball. They correctly added pressure to Paige, not letting him get a shot off. If PJ Hariston is playing, Paige probably gets a much more open look because Hariston acts as a magnet drawing opposing defenses towards him. Obviously, Hariston will not be playing Wednesday night, so who else steps up next to Marcus and contributes? Does JP Tokoto break out against Sparty (shot 7-11 from the field against UAB,) or maybe Natt Britt? James Michael McAdoo or god help us- Wade Moody? Watch for who steps up against MSU later tonight.
And if you get depressed during the game…