UNC Basketball vs. Elon: Preview, info, prediction and more

Dec 1, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 1, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels head coach Hubert Davis reacts in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC Basketball program is looking to cruise into their third straight victory against a program from right down the street as Elon heads to Chapel Hill.

North Carolina is looking like a team that has found their rhythm after impressive back to back wins against Michigan and Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels devoured Michigan 72-51 and exploded in the second half against Georgia Tech to win 79-62. Despite two Texas size W’s in a row, the UNC basketball program still find themselves unranked as the nonconference season goes on.

That’s where the importance of what some consider “just a scrimmage” game comes into play.

North Carolina currently sits at 6-2 with their losses coming against two ranked teams in Purdue and  Tennessee. Even though Elon isn’t a household name in college basketball, a routine blow out could add to the list of reasons why this UNC basketball team belongs in the top 25. It’s almost mad to believe the Michigan win wasn’t enough to earn some respect, but following it up with Georgia Tech and still not receiving it could bring out some fireworks Saturday night.

This team is clicking because of a balance between the offensive attack and a new found itch in playing defense. Caleb Love and Rj Davis have been a spark all season, and Armando Bacot has controlled the paint. To add the cherry on top, both transfers Brady Manek and Dawson Garcia have put their heel print into UNC’s offensive attack.

Key To Victory

Keep the pressure on defense throughout the game. The major key, no matter who the opposing team, is for Carolina to match the energy on defense. Carolina is a very good offensive team and even though they have enough to keep up with points, its stopping the opposing teams where the game can get lost for UNC.

UNC started the season allowing teams like the Brown Bears to drop 87 points and giving up 89+ in the back to back losses against Purdue and Tennessee. Keeping Bacot out of foul trouble and keeping Leaky Black on the court should help those defensive efforts in this game.

Another key to victory is to let Love and Davis work. UNC backcourt has been impressive this season with both Love and Davis averaging more than 14 points each. Love’s ability to finish and Davis streaky shooting should be on full display against Elon who currently ranks 335th out of 358 colleges.

The player to stop for Elon is guard Darius Burford. The CAA All-Freshman currently averages 12 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists per game and could cause havoc for UNC. Expect Love to start out on Burford with Black switching on and off.

Something To Watch

Can UNC play two halves of solid basketball? We all know UNC should win this game, but many won’t be happy about it unless it results in flawless basketball. Currently, Elon is 2-9 with defense that resembles swiss cheese, and with UNC offense firepower, it should be no problem to get points up.

Who will lead all scorers?

My guess is we witness an even balance of Love attacking the hoop and Bacot finishing put-backs. It could go either way, but if I had to roll the dice I would put it on Love leading all scorers with his season high. This just screams a break-out game for Love with attacks at the rim resulting in high-fives from Tar Heel nation.

Last Meeting

This is the 26th time these two teams have met. The last game was played on November 20th, 2019 where UNC cruised into a 75-61 victory. The Tar Heels won thanks to Bacot’s 22 points and 14 rebound game. Cole Anthony also had a solid outing nearly getting a triple double with 9 points, 8 assist, and 10 rebounds. Carolina currently leads the head to head series 21-4.

Projected Starters

No. 4 R.J. Davis (So., 6-0, 175) – 14.3 ppg, 3.9 rpg
No. 2 Caleb Love (So., 6-4, 195) – 16.3 ppg, 4.3 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Sr., 6-8 200) – 4.9 ppg, 4.6 RPG
No. 13 Dawson Garcia (So. 6-11, 235) – 10.0 ppg, 5.5rpg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Jr., 6-10, 240) – 15 ppg, 9.9 rpg

What You Need To Know

WHAT? Elon Phoenix (2-7, 0-2 away) vs North Carolina Tar Heels (5-2, 4-0 home)
WHEN? Saturday, December 11 – 8:00 p.m. EST
WHERE? Dean Dome– Chapel Hill, North Carolina
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network Affiliates
LAST MEETING?  UNC Won 75-61, November 20th 2021

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