UNC vs. Kentucky Alumni Game: The Lineups


Jan 21, 2015; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward

Anthony Davis

(23) is guarded by Los Angeles Lakers forward

Ed Davis

(21) during the first quarter of a game at the Smoothie King Center. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The other day, Keeping It Heel presented the rosters for a potential UNC vs. Kentucky Alumni Game matchup. Today, KIH wants to take it one step further and offer up some potential lineups that each team could use in the game.

The idea here is to play mock coach and pick different lineups for different situations — a starting lineup, a bench lineup, a big lineup, a small lineup etc.

Let us know in the comments section below which lineups you think would work best and who you think would win in the game!

First, let’s take a look at a few Tar Heel lineups.

Jan 9, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard

Kendall Marshall

(5) dribbles the ball during the second quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

UNC Alumni Game: Lineups

Just to review, here is the roster for the UNC Alumni Team.

Ty Lawson
Kendall Marshall
Danny Green
Harrison Barnes
John Henson
Brandan Wright
Tyler Zeller
P.J. Hairston
Ed Davis
Vince Carter

First, let’s make the starting lineup.


PG: Lawson
SG: Green
SF: Barnes
PF: Henson
C: Zeller

The strength of this lineup is defense. Lawson is a bit undersized at point guard but still is feisty on defense and always finds a way to pick up a steal or two during a game.

Green and Barnes give the Heels a lot of flexibility on the wing. Both could probably survive a possession guarding against Terrence Jones or even one of Kentucky’s bigger bigs like Enes Kanter or Boogie Cousins. I think the real coach of the Heels would have an internal discussion about starting Green out on John Wall, Kentucky’s point guard, and trying to hide Lawson on Jodie Meeks or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both of whom are easier matchups for 5’11” Lawson.

I like Brandan Wright better in pick and rolls with Lawson than I do Henson, but Henson has more to offer on defense and will do better against Anthony Davis. Zeller will also have his hands full with Boogie Cousins, but UNC doesn’t really have a better option.

There is enough spacing and firepower to get by, but this lineup isn’t going to be an offensive juggernaut. I think posting up Barnes, Henson and Zeller, along with a heavy diet of Lawson & a Big pick and rolls, will be enough to keep the Heels afloat offensively.


PG: Marshall
SG: Hairston
SF: Carter
PF: Wright
C: Davis

This lineup is actually more offensively inclined than the group of starters. P.J. and Vince can hang out in the corners and on the wings, eagerly awaiting yummy passes sent from Marshall in the halfcourt. Marshall and Wright would make a good combination on pick and rolls, and Ed Davis could get the ball on post ups.

The issue comes on defense. Marshall, Hairston and Carter are all minus defenders, and Wright grades out at merely average or above average at protecting the rim. I think you would have to keep either Barnes or Green out on the floor with this group to stop the Wildcats’ best guard from pillaging the Tar Heel defensive fort.

Small Ball

PG: Lawson
SG: Green
SF: Carter/Hairston
PF: Barnes
C: Henson

I think this lineup makes a lot of sense to try to beat some of the Wildcats’ size in the middle. This actually doesn’t look too far off from what the Warriors rolled out in the Finals to beat the Cavs — Lawson acts as Steph Curry, hoping to force switches or feast on easy opportunities in pick and rolls. Green and Carter are the natural answer to Thompson and Iguodala, with Iguodala grading out as a far superior to Carter on defense.

Barnes would of course play himself and Henson would act as the Andrew Bogut/Festus Ezili/David Lee big who is left to clean up messes on defense and eat up rebounds.

If you wanted to get super risky, you could try a super small lineup with Barnes at five and Hairston at three, although I imagine one Boogie Cousins post-up or Anthony Davis rim run would end that experiment.

Two PGs

PG: Marshall
SG: Lawson
SF: Green
PF: Barnes
C: Zeller/Henson

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

This lineup would have to play fast and hope that either Zeller or Henson could do enough on defense to keep the house of cards from falling on that end.

Lawson doesn’t play off the ball much but Marshall would still keep him and everyone else involved on offense. Green and Barnes would have a lot of space to operate and easy threes to reign down.

Next, let’s take a look at Kentucky’s lineups.

May 15, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) dribbles past Atlanta Hawks forward

Paul Millsap

(4) during the second half in game six of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Alumni Game Lineups 

Again, to review, here is Kentucky’s roster.

John Wall
Eric Bledsoe
Jodie Meeks
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (MKG)
Anthony Davis
Terrance Jones
DeMarcus Cousins
Brandan Knight
Enes Kanter
Karl-Anthony Towns


PG: Wall
SG: Meeks
PF: Davis
C: Cousins

North Carolina Tar Heels
North Carolina Tar Heels /

North Carolina Tar Heels

This unit would start, but probably wouldn’t stay on the floor for long. Jodie Meeks would provide plenty of floor spacing, but MKG would offer none, potentially leading to some log jams on offense with two big men and one non-threatening wing.

Wall and Davis would be a joy to watch on offense, though, and Cousins could be the safety net at the end of the shot clock, posting up for easy buckets against inferior defenders.

Defensively, this unit would be fine. Cousins has a questionable motor, and it is fair to ask how hard he would play in a scrimmage against UNC players, but Davis would cover his tracks with his long arms and MKG would be an excellent first line of defense.

Now for the fun tinkering.

3 PGs

PG: Wall
PG: Bledsoe
PG: Knight
PF: Jones
C: Davis

Now this would be interesting. This unit would play fast, with the quickest man, Wall, doing most of the ball handling and tempo-pushing. Bledsoe and Knight also both have some experience in “trips” lineups playing for the Suns. Of the two, Knight has less, but I also think you could make an argument that he is a better 2 than 1 anyway.

Jones is in to provide floor spacing and to keep up with the speedsters, and Davis is in because he is a super-human mutant who should only leave the floor because of injury, fatigue or a blowout score.


PG: Knight
SG: Meeks
PF: Towns
C: Kanter

Unleash the beast, Karl-Anthony Towns! This year’s first overall pick wouldn’t see a lot of burn in this game but we will unleash him to protect the rim and do awesome things on offense here.

Knight is the best of the PGs and defense and thus gets to stay on the floor. Meeks isn’t a defensive stopper by any means but won’t drown defensively playing next to one of the best in MKG. Finally, Kanter provides some toughness in the middle.

Super Big

PG: Wall (6’4″)
SG: MKG (6’7″)
SF: Davis (6’10”)
PF: Cousins (6’11”)
C: Kanter (6’11”)

That is an impressive collection of large humans.

Davis would likely be relegated to Mike Miller floor-spacing duty on offense just because there wouldn’t be space for three bigs and MKG to waddle around in the paint, but this group would crash the boards and be fine on offense.

I don’t think Carolina would be able to keep up with this kind of size at every position.


PG: Knight
SG: Bledsoe
SF: Meeks
PF: Jones
C: Davis

Knight runs the point as he is a far better three-point shooter at 38.9% than Wall (30%) or Bledsoe (32.4%). Bledsoe stays though to keep MKG off the court and because I feel he can play off the ball better than Wall could.

Meeks and Jones could hang out behind the arc to space as needed, and even Davis could step back and can a three if prompted. I think Davis could also carry this unit on defense enough to make this lineup work.


Well, there you have it. 1400+ very serious words about what will likely be a silly, defense-less game if it happens this fall.

Let us know what other lineups you can concoct in the comments section below!