TV: The ACC Network
North Carolina is one of the hottest teams in the country, and they’ll invade Cassell Coliseum for a 2:30pm game on Saturday afternoon. The Tar Heels will try to keep their winning streak alive, and they’ll aim to ruin the Senior Day of Cadarian Raines and Jarell Eddie.
UNC has won 10 games in a row, most of them by a comfortable margin. Earlier this year the Tar Heels were not playing consistent basketball, but that has changed since late January. They will be a very tough team for the Hokies to beat.
Here’s a look at UNC’s projected starting lineup.
G Marcus Paige (6-1, 175, So.): Paige is a smooth player who can light up the scoreboard. He had 35 points in this week’s overtime win against NC State. For the season, Paige averages 17.5 points per game, and he also leads the team with 129 assists.
G J.P. Tokoto (6-5, 200, So.): Tokoto has started all 28 games and averages 9.3 points per game. He’s not much of a shooter at this stage of his career (25.9% from three-point range and 51.2% from the free throw line), but he leads the team with 46 steals.
G Leslie McDonald (6-5, 215, r-Sr.): McDonald averages 10.8 points per game for the Tar Heels. He has suffered through an injury-plagued career, and though he’s still not a particularly good shooter, his presence is very important for a UNC team that has a lot of youth.
F James Michael McAdoo (6-9, 230, Jr.): McAdoo averages 14.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. He is UNC’s top inside threat. The Norfolk native hasn’t been quite as good as was expected when he was a recruit, but he is playing well in UNC’s recent winning streak.
C Kennedy Meeks (6-9, 290, Fr.): Meeks is a big body on the inside, and he averages 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. He only plays 16.4 minutes per game, so he is perhaps UNC’s most productive player when you consider the amount of minutes played.
Brice Johnson (6-9, 210, So.) comes off the bench to play just over 19 minutes per game on the inside. He averages 10.3 points per game, giving the Tar Heels a legit scoring threat off the bench. He also pulls down 6.3 rebounds per game. With McAdoo, Meeks, Johnson and Joel James (6-10, 280, So.), the Tar Heels have quite a group of post players. James has started 13 games this year, and is a defensive specialist with a big body.
Another important player off the bench for UNC is Nate Britt (5-11, 165, Fr.). Britt doesn’t have great size, but he was a highly-touted recruit who averages 5.3 points, and he has 65 assists on the season. He has started 16 games, and he averages just over 20 minutes per contest.
How do these teams compare from an efficiency standpoint?
Offensive efficiency: UNC #81, VT #280
Defensive efficiency: UNC #34, VT #152
North Carolina’s efficiency numbers explain why the Tar Heels are one of the top teams in the ACC with a 21-7 overall record and an 11-4 mark in league play. Virginia Tech’s efficiency numbers explain why the Hokies are one of the worst (9-18 overall, 2-13 in the ACC).
This is a tough matchup for the Hokies from a depth perspective, but that’s no different than most other games. However, this game has the potential to be closer than expected because of UNC’s outside shooting. Only two Tar Heel players have the green light to shoot from the outside:
Marcus Paige: 70-of-175, 40%
Leslie McDonald: 31-of-104, 30.8%
No other UNC player has attempted more than 27 three-pointers this year. If Tech’s 2-3 zone can deny UNC’s post players the ball, and Paige and McDonald don’t knock down their shots, then the Hokies have the potential to stay in this game.