UNC vs. Bucknell: Preview, broadcast information and more


UNC returns to action on Wednesday night hosting Bucknell

The North Carolina Tar Heels will be back in action on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill as they play their second game of the 2017-18 college basketball season.

After opening up with a win over Northern Iowa, the Tar Heels are seeking to improve to 2-0 on the young season. To do that, they will have to beat an experienced Bucknell team.

Fresh off a Patriot League Title in 2017, the Bison have struggled to start the season. They dropped their opener to Monmouth 79-78 and were then blown out by Arkansas 101-73.

But they are an experienced team as they return all five starters from a year ago and five bench players. They welcome in two new freshmen to the team as well.

For the Tar Heels, this is a chance to go 2-0 on the season before they head out West to take on Stanford next Monday then play in the Phil Knight 80 Invitational in Portland, Oregon on Thanksgiving.

Getting out to a 2-0 start and building some confidence will be key for what could be a tough road trip.

Oh, and they could be getting their point guard Joel Berry back for the game.

Berry will likely be a game-time decision as head coach Roy Williams left the door open for him to return earlier than expected. Williams said that Berry practiced Monday and was expected to practice on Tuesday.

One Bucknell player to watch…

Zach Thomas is in his senior year and is the leader for the Bison and arguably the team’s best player. Through two games Thomas has averaged 27.5 points and 13 rebounds for the Bison.

The 6-foot-7 forward could be a problem for the Tar Heels in the paint as he’s going up against an inexperienced frontcourt of UNC.

The Tar Heels will likely go with a similar lineup as we saw against UNI with Luke Maye starting at the forward spot. If that happens, we could see Maye matched up with Thomas. Both are very good on the offensive end of the floor.

UNC’s Garrison Brooks, Sterling Manley, and Brandon Huffman played well in the win over Northern Iowa, but Thomas will present a much bigger challenge if they are assigned to him at any point of the game.

If Bucknell is going to win this game, they need Thomas to play like he has the last two games and maybe just a little better. He scored 31 against Monmouth and followed it up with a 24-point performance against Arkansas.

Thomas has grabbed double-digit rebounds in both contests and really could make his impact felt on the glass.

One UNC player to watch…

This is the type of game that senior Theo Pinson could have a big impact on.  We know about the experience that Bucknell has but UNC’s success this season will hinge on the senior duo of Berry and Pinson.

With Berry’s status up in the air, Pinson could be the lone senior starting for the Tar Heels on Wednesday night.

The versatile wing can do it all and will have a chance to stuff the scoresheet in what we hope is a UNC win.

Pinson will be matched up with Kimbal Mackenzie and Avi Toomer on the wing, and it could be his defense that makes him the difference maker. Let’s see if Pinson can build off of his performance against the Panthers.

Difference maker…


One of the biggest questions going into the season is whether or not UNC could maintain its success on the boards. The Tar Heels have dominated the glass the last few years but without Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks and Tony Bradley Jr., it might be a struggle this year.

In their opener against Northern Iowa, the Tar Heels out-rebounded the Panthers 37-29 with Luke Maye leading the way with 10.

Wednesday’s game will be another opportunity for the Tar Heels to show they can still dominate the boards. Bucknell enters the game ranked 321st in the nation, averaging 28.5 rebounds per game in their first two this season.

Next: UNC athletics among best in the nation

What you need to know

WHAT? Bucknell 0-2  (0-0 Patriot League) vs. North Carolina 1-0 (0-0 ACC)
WHEN? Wednesday, November 15, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET
WHERE? Dean E. Smith Center – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
TV? Watch ESPN App (Dave Weekley and Mark Adams)
RADIO? Tar Heel Sports Network
LINE? No Line.
ALL-TIME SERIES? First meeting between the two teams
PREDICTION? UNC 77, Bucknell 65