The Tar Heels return to the Smith Center today for the first time since the upset loss to Belmont to host the UNCG Spartans at 7 the first ever meeting between the two schools. It has been an interesting few weeks for the Heels as they upset the defending national champions Louisville and the No.1 team in the country Michigan State. However, between those two games they were upset again by UAB. It has been hard trying to figure out this team, here are a few things to watch for this Saturday.
Which North Carolina team shows up: The Heels have been playing down or up to the level competition so far this season. At times they looked completely dominant against Louisville and Michigan State while looking completely disinterested against UAB. After the Michigan State game players talked about coming to play every game and not expecting to win just because they are North Carolina. On paper this is one of the worst teams that the Heels will play all season they rank 343rd in defensive efficiency, 271st in offensive efficiency and 299th in turnover ratio. The Spartans turn the ball over on 21 percent of their possessions. All the signs point to a UNC blowout win if the right team shows up.
Bench production: The Heels are getting great play from their bench so far this season. The standouts have been sophomore forward Brice Johnson and freshman center Kennedy Meeks. Johnson is second on the team in scoring averaging 13 points per game and leads the team in rebounding at 7 per contest. Meeks is right behind him averaging 6 per game and has been outstanding in the post in two of the last three games while displaying the great passing skills he was known for in high school. The duo combine for 29 points and 13 rebounds against the Spartans on Wednesday and played a huge role in the Heels pulling away late in the game. The pair has easily outplayed the duo of Joel James and James Michael McAdoo so far this season.
James Michael McAdoo: After a pair of great games to start the season the talented junior has struggled since his 27-point effort against Belmont. He has failed to reach double figures in the last four games since that game averaging just 8 points on 29 percent shooting along 3 rebounds. He has been outplayed so far this season by Johnson and Meeks while once again playing out of position at small forward. This could be the game that McAdoo gets back on track as UNCG only has two players that stands 6’8 or taller which should give him chances to play close to the basket. If the Tar Heels are going to accomplish any of their goals this season his play must improve.
Former Tar Heels return home: Saturday’s game will see three former Heels return to the Smith Center as coaches for the first time. The Spartans are led by former fan favorite Wes Miller who played at North Carolina from 2004-2007 and was a member of the 2005 national title team. Also on that team was defensive ace Jackie Manuel who is now an assistant for Miller. Another former Heel on the staff is J.B. Tanner, a member of the 2009 national team who serves as director of operations for UNCG.