Tuesday, November 29, 2005

 

Pre-Game UNC Thoughts

Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time today to do a detailed preview, so I'll make it brief.

Guards: Big edge to Illinois. UNC starts two freshmen, Illinois starts a senior and a junior including a consensus All-American.

Forwards: Big edge to UNC. Terry and Noel are athletic, strong and have more experience (at least Noel does) than both Pruitt and Randle.

Center: Big-time senior against top-level freshman. I know Illini fans could argue that Pruitt is the center, but I assume Augie will be guarding Hansbrough a bunch tonight. This could be the key matchup of the game. If one or the other gets in foul trouble, that particular team will be in big trouble.

Bench: Advantage to the Illini. Warren Carter and Jamar Smith are very good scorers off the bench, Arnold/Frazier serviceable especially defensively for a few minutes a game. UNC has a nice freshman swingman in Danny Green but not much else on the bench. Foul trouble could really hurt North Carolina. Point guard Quentin Thomas has been a disappointment so far.

Coaching: Advantage to North Carolina. I'll take the guy with the national championship and multiple Final Fours.

Illinois will try to speed up the game and play pressure defense to harass UNC into turnovers. Against light competition, the Tar Heels have turned it over too much this season (18 turnovers/game). Look for that number to be even higher than 18 tonight, which would be to the Illini's favor.

UNC will look to get Augustine in foul trouble and may play some zone to slow the Illini's offense down. Against North Carolina in the 2005 championship game, a game in which Roy Williams utilized a lot of zone defense, the Illini shot 40 threes. If I'm Roy Williams, I challenge guys like Brian Randle and Chester Frazier to shoot from the outside in a hostile environment.

If you read most of the previews for this game, you get the impression that Roy Williams is looking to run and gun. I don't think that's a smart strategy against this Illinois team which is built around pressure defense. Perhaps some gamesmanship from Williams in advance of a big game?

I have no idea how North Carolina is favored by Vegas, other than being at home and through name recognition. Illinois is the veteran team with two big-time seniors and I expect the Illini to get a nice win tonight, somewhere around 75-67 as a final score.

Comments:
Also, some predictions for the rest of the Big Ten-ACC Challenge:

Wisconsin over Wake Forest
Florida State over Purdue
Clemson over Penn State
Michigan over Miami
Michigan State over Georgia Tech
Maryland over Minnesota
Virginia over Northwestern
Duke over Indiana
Iowa over NC State

With Ohio State over Virginia Tech and (my prediction of) Illinois over UNC, that would give the Big Ten a 6-5 advantage in the Challenge.
 
Nut...we actually agree on every game....although I wouldn't be surprised if NU pulled out the win.

butts
 
I'm very skeptical about winning any game on the road. Hope our guys will be able to contend with a hostile crowd, but Weber needs to find out how tough they are. Good test for us.
 
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