UNC vs. Harvard Predictions

3 of 4

Mar 14, 2015; Greensboro, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward J.P. Tokoto (13) guards Notre Dame Fighting Irish guard Jerian Grant (22) in the second half during the championship game of the ACC Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. The Fighting Irish won 90-82. Mandatory Credit: Evan Pike-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction 2: J.P. Tokoto Shuts Down Wesley Saunders

Say what you want about J.P. Tokoto’s offense, but you cannot fault his defense and his ability to shut down the opposing team’s best player. Tokoto has been drawing tough defensive assignments all season long for the Heels and been delivering. His counting stats are good. He is averaging 0.4 blocks and 1.5 steals this season, two great totals for a wing player. He also ranks 228th in Steal Percentage, according to kenpom.com.

However, where Tokoto really excels is shutting down his man. It is hard to quantify this, since even the NBA is just entering a defensive statistical revolution in this realm of basketball analytics. However, when watching games, you see how well Tokoto stays with his man and forces him into taking tough, contested shots.

With that said, I have a feeling that Tokoto will shut down Saunders on Thursday night. Tokoto will almost certainly draw the assignment against Saunders, a 6-5, 215 pound senior, and stick with him the entire game. Saunders is very talented, but he will have his hands full playing against Tokoto. He certainly hasn’t seen anyone with Tokoto’s length and skill on the defensive end in the Ivy League, and he hasn’t faced a great defense since Virginia back in December, when he put up an offensive rating of 35 (a pitiful number).

My money is on J.P. Tokoto to shut Harvard’s best player down on the offensive end.

Next: Score Prediction