UNC Opens Title Defense

Sharon Thorsland
March 15, 2018 - 9:07 am

Dreamstime Images

It's my favorite time of year – March Madness! This time around looks to be even more exciting than usual as there is really no clear cut favorite to win it all. Instead, we've got lots of teams that have a shot at cutting down the nets, including Villanova, Virginia, Michigan State, Duke, and of course, the defending champs - North Carolina. The Tar Heels ended up as the number two seed in the West, and they'll be in Charlotte on Friday taking on the 15th seeded Lipscomb Bisons.  (You can hear the game on WBT, tip-off is approximately 2:45).  If you're like me, when you saw that match-up, you said “where the heck is Lipscomb?” The answer is Nashville, TN.  And while it might be a small school, the Bisons are pretty darn good.  They're 23-9 this season and punched their ticket to the big dance with an impressive win over Florida Gulf Coast (aka “Dunk City”) to win the Atlantic Sun's automatic bid. 

The Bisons are a high scoring team, they average nearly 81 points a contest. Junior guard Garrison Mathews is the Bison's go-to guy and is one of the best shooters in the country. He averages 22 points per game, and knocks down three-pointers at a clip of just under 39 percent. Forward Rob Marberry adds 16 points a contest but no one else on the team scores in double figures. That's not good news when you're facing a UNC team that puts up 82 points a game and boasts one of the most efficient offensive attacks in the country. The Bisons will need all the firepower they can get if they want a shot at upsetting the Heels.

The Tar Heels have veteran leadership in seniors Joel Berry and Theo Pinson, and they're tournament tested – they're the defending champs, after all! But the Heels have to be able to hit some 3's, and more importantly, they need to finish games. That's been their Achilles heel of late – they nearly gave away the Duke game in the ACC tournament, turning the ball over and hardly scoring late in the game.

The 2-15 match-up is not a gimme – who can forget the thoroughly enjoyable Lehigh upset of Duke back in 2012? But I just don't see that happening here. The Tar Heels are more talented, have more depth, and are more experienced. The only time these teams played before was back in 2010 in Chapel Hill. The Heels won in a rout. I see them doing it again on Friday. Go Tar Heels!

Comments ()