Miami will hit Carolina right in the mouth – again.
For the four teams with the double bye in the ACC Tournament, Thursday is a most treacherous day. You are playing a strong opponent that has already played one game, and you are five days since your last game. That’s what top seeds Carolina, Florida State, Notre Dame and Louisville face today, and I promise all four won’t advance. Getting off to a slow start is not the recipe to win.
The Tar Heels are especially vulnerable against a Miami team with good athletes, experience and size. The Hurricanes blew Carolina away in Coral Gable six weeks ago, marking perhaps the low point of UNC’s season. The 77-62 loss actually wasn’t as close as that score indicates. The U out shot, out rebounded and out played the Heels in every aspect of the game and will think they can do it again.
Freshman Bruce Brown shot poorly in the ‘Canes second-round win over Syracuse and will be fired up to see the Carolina blue again. Brown had a college-high 30 points on the Tar Heels and proved a tough guy to guard on dribble penetration and around the perimeter. Kamari Murphy, one of Miami’s two senior starters, helped the Hurricanes hold off Syracuse with a double-double Wednesday, in a game when the U out shot and out-rebounded the Orange and hit nearly 40 percent of its three-pointers over the ‘Cuse zone.
Miami poses a match-up problem for the Heels with its athletic, three-guard starting lineup led by senior Davon Reed, the team’s leading scorer and three-point marksman. The Tar Heels need to force tempo and play a fast pace and not allow the Hurricanes to control the possessions, while getting back on defense to take the opportunistic break points away from Miami.
But Carolina has a blueprint of what to do – and what not to do – to avoid an embarrassing loss and putting that NCAA No. 1 seed it has locked up right now back in jeopardy. The Tar Heels don’t have to win the ACC Tournament, but they have to win at least one game to stay on the one line for sure.