UNC Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis vs Arkansas Preview

Nov 22, 2023; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cormac Ryan (3) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 22, 2023; Paradise Island, BAHAMAS; North Carolina Tar Heels guard Cormac Ryan (3) reacts after scoring during the second half against the Northern Iowa Panthers at Imperial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

The UNC Basketball program suffered a tough loss in overtime on Thanksgiving to Villanova. Now, they will play in the third-place game against Arkansas.

In a back-and-forth game with the Villanova Wildcats, the UNC Basketball program failed to come out victorious on Thanksgiving, as they suffered an 83-81 overtime loss to the Wildcats. As a result, the Tar Heels will now play in the third-place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis in their third game in three days.

It was already going to be a challenge for North Carolina to play a third consecutive day, however, when you combine that with the fact that it was a physical affair between the Tar Heels and Wildcats that went into overtime, it becomes that more difficult. There were a total of 52 fouls in the game with the Wildcats and a combined 59 free throws.

The Tar Heels will now play No. 20 Arkansas in the third-place game in the preseason tournament in the Bahamas.

ESPN2. Friday, Nov 24. 441. . 1:00 PM ET. 4-2. 524. 4-1

Key to Victory for North Carolina

While the UNC Basketball program showed toughness and fight against Villanova on Thursday, they will need more of that on Friday afternoon. The Tar Heels will likely be without Cormac Ryan, who appeared to twist both ankles in the final seconds of the 83-83 loss to the Wildcats. Ryan was one of three Tar Heels who scored in double-figures in the loss.

The Tar Heels will need some to replace that production. Jae’lyn Withers earned the start against the Wildcats and did some things really well that didn’t show up in the box score but didn’t give North Carolina a scoring boost. With Ryan out, the Tar Heels may turn to Withers for an offensive boost against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas is known to be another physical team, and the Tar Heels will be tested. Another key will be that North Carolina needs to keep their composure and play through contact, not letting the whistles affect their style of play.

Something to Watch For

Arkansas has four players who average scoring in double figures and a fifth who averages nine points per game. The Razorbacks are a very balanced scoring team; while not as deep as the Wildcats were, they still have eight players averaging double-figure minutes per game as well. This is a game Armando Bacot can dominate on the boards (he had 18 against Villanova), as the Razorbacks don’t have anyone averaging more than eight rebounds per game.

If free throws do become a factor like they were on day two of the Battle 4 Atlantis against Villanova, the good news is that Arkansas isn’t as good of a free throw shooting team, only making 69% of their attempts this season. However, against Memphis, Arkansas shot slightly above their season average, making 20 of 27 free throws (Memphis also shot 30 free throws in the game). Needless to say, both teams have been through physical matchups the last two days and could be on a collision course for another one.

During their loss to UNC-Greensboro, the Spartans were able to outrebound Arkansas 32-30 on the boards and hold the Razorbacks to 4-23 shooting from three-point range while making 9-24 (37.5%). Two areas that the Tar Heels can use to their advantage and cause issues for the Razorbacks on Friday afternoon.

Fatigue will be something else to watch as not only did the Tar Heels have a battle on Thursday afternoon with Villanova, but Arkansas also had a battle of their own. In game one of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Razorbacks went to double overtime, beating Stanford 77-74. In their second game, they lost to Memphis, 84-79. The depth of this UNC Basketball team will be shown against the Razorbacks.

Last Meeting

It has been six years to the day since the UNC Basketball program and Arkansas faced each other, with the last matchup coming on November 24th, 2017, in the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon. The Tar Heels won that matchup 87-68.

Luke Maye led all scorers on 11-16 shooting, scoring 28 points and bringing in 16 rebounds. In the last matchup, Kenny Williams and Joel Berry also produced double-figure scoring nights with 19 and 13 points, respectively.

The UNC Basketball history holds the all-time series lead 7-3, with the last Razorback victory coming during the 1994-1995 season when Arkansas beat the Tar Heels 75-68 in the Final Four.

Projected Starters

No. 4 RJ Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 15.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.8 apg

No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 17.2 ppg, 13.2 rpg, 1.0 apg

No. 7 Seth Trimble (So. 6-3, 195) 4.0 ppg, 1.2 rpg, 0.8 apg

No. 24 Jae’lyn Withers (Gr. 6-5, 195) 4.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 0.6 apg

No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 14.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 2.0 apg