2006-07 Basketball Game Preview: Virginia Tech vs. #1 North Carolina

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Virginia Tech (12-4, 2-0 ACC) vs #1 North Carolina (15-1, 2-0)

Saturday, January 13, 2006, 3:30

TV: ABC


Special Preview Items:

Ignore all the talk you hear about Ohio State and Florida on ESPN. The most
talented college basketball team in the land will enter Cassell Coliseum this
Saturday. The #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels are the first top-ranked team
to play in Cassell Coliseum since Marcus Camby and UMass made the trip back in
1996. This time, the Hokies are hoping for better results.

North Carolina enters this game with a 15-1 record, including a 2-0 mark in
ACC play. Their lone loss came back on November 22 to Gonzaga. They have
defeated teams such as Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio State, Florida State and
Virginia.

Not many of UNC’s games have been close. Only two of their victories have
been decided by single digits. They beat Winthrop 73-66 and knocked off Ohio
State 98-89. They have accomplished this with a basketball team that is very
young.

Last year, UNC made the NCAA tournament with a roster that featured four
freshmen that either started or were key contributors off the bench. This year,
many of those freshmen have been dropped to backup status because of the play of
the Tar Heels’ outstanding freshman class, which was ranked #1 in the nation
heading into the season. Check out the youth in Roy Williams’ backcourt.

UNC
Starting Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Year Pts. Rebs.

G

Ty Lawson

5-11
193
Fr.
8.8 2.5

G

Wayne Ellington

6-4
195
Fr.
12.4 2.6

F

Reyshawn Terry

6-8
232
Sr.
9.1 6.1

F

Brandan Wright

6-9
205
Fr.
15.8 6.6

C

Tyler Hansbrough

6-9
245
So.
18.6 7.8

This team is deep and talented, and some of their third string players could
start for many major schools. But first let’s take a look at their starting
lineup, which features up to five future NBA players.

Tyler Hansbrough is the big name on UNC’s roster. Although he’s
technically a sophomore, at 21 years of age he is older than Virginia Tech
senior center Coleman Collins, who is just 20. Hansbrough’s best attribute is
his tenacious offensive rebounding ability. 51 of his 124 rebounds this year
have been on the offensive glass. He is shooting 53.7% from the field.

The Tar Heels will try to exploit Virginia Tech on the inside. Hansbrough has
128 free throw attempts on the season and shoots 71.9% from the charity stripe.
The Hokies can’t hack away recklessly at Hansbrough, because he can burn them
from the free throw line.

Hansbrough isn’t the only inside player Tech has to worry about. Freshman
forward Brandan Wright has been better than everyone expected. He combines with
Hansbrough to form one of the best inside duos in the nation. Wright is
extremely athletic. He can run the court, and he shoots 63.9% from the field,
which ranks first in the ACC. The Hokies will have to be physical with Wright.
He isn’t the heaviest guy in the world, but he is aggressive.

Perhaps the only disappointment this year for UNC has been the play of
Reyshawn Terry. The senior wing is a talented player who is putting up solid
numbers, but they are down from his 14.3 points per game last season. He has
particularly struggled in his last two games. He scored four points against UVa
and zero against Florida State.

Terry is capable of lighting it up at any point, but he also has a tendency
to get frustrated. If the Hokies get after him early and he has a tough day, it
could turn into an advantage for Virginia Tech.

UNC’s all-freshmen backcourt is very talented. Point guard Ty Lawson is a
true point, and he’s one of the most explosive players in the ACC. Lawson is
second in the ACC in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.68. He is the perfect fit for
Roy Williams’ up tempo style offense.

Lawson is joined in the backcourt by Wayne Ellington, a 6-4 shooting guard
who averages 12.4 points per game. Ellington is very dangerous from the outside,
shooting 42% from the arc on the season.

Off the bench, the Tar Heels will play a number of talented players.
Sophomores Danny Green, Marcus Ginyard and Bobby Frasor are all players who
gained starting experience last season. Ginyard is a 6-5 defensive stopper who
could very well find himself locked up on Zabian Dowdell when he is in the game.

Let’s take a look at some of the key stats for each team.

Key
Stats
Category North
Carolina
Virginia
Tech
Stat ACC
Rank
Stat ACC
Rank

FG %
50.6% 2 46.9% 9

FG % Defense
40% 4 39.4% 3

3-Pt. %
38.2% 5 38.5% 4

3-Pt. % Defense
32.9% 7 32.6% 6

Free Throws
69.7% 6 63.2% 11

Rebounding Margin
+11.1 1 +1.5 9

Turnover Margin
+3.5 3 +6.94 1

Assist/TO Ratio
1.49 1 1.27 2

Scoring Off.
88.8 1 73.3 10

Scoring Def.
64.9 5 57.9 2

Average
4.8 6.6

North Carolina holds a big advantage over the Hokies in scoring offense, free
throw shooting and rebounding margin. The Hokies are slightly better defensively
and are one of just two teams in the ACC that have given up less than 1,000
points on the season.

It will take some luck for the Hokies to knock off the Tar Heels, but it’s
possible. First, they must use their senior guards to pressure the all-freshmen
backcourt of UNC. Lawson and Ellington are very good, but they haven’t faced
the ball pressure they’ll see Saturday. The Hokies have three players who rank
in the top nine in the ACC in steals (Jamon Gordon, 2nd, 2.5 per game; Zabian
Dowdell, 3rd, 2.25 per game; Deron Washington, 9th, 1.75 per game), and they
need to pressure Lawson and Ellington.

Also, UNC has played just one road game this season, a 69-48 victory at Saint
Louis. It will be a somewhat new experience for their three freshmen starters.

The Tar Heels will throw talent in waves at the Hokies, and it will probably
be too much, especially with so many talented UNC post players. The Hokies will
have to play their best game, and we’ll have to see the Tar Heels at less than
their best for an upset to occur.

Bourbonstreet’s View

The biggest game of the Seth Greenberg Virginia Tech hoops era dawns this
Saturday afternoon inside the Cassell, as the #1 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels
visit Blacksburg, in what is sure to be a major litmus test and then some. To
put it simply, this is the most talented basketball team that Tech will play all
year no matter were the Hokies end up this postseason.

Just how great is UNC? Try all of this on for size … UNC is 2nd in scoring
and 3rd in scoring margin, at +25 points per game. So this is not just the
high-revving, high-octane Tar Heel offense that Coach Roy Williams had
envisioned. This is a track meet quality team that is attempting to run away and
hide from their opponents. 14 of the 15 UNC wins have been by 10 points or more,
and UNC has 11 wins by 21 points or more.

UNC is young, as the Tar Heels only field one upperclassman in their Top-10
rotation. Though youthful, UNC is precocious, as their current freshman-year
ballers were the #1 ranked recruiting class last year by many publications, and
the current sophomores were a high single-digit to low-teen national class. UNC
is the Mariana Trench of D-1 hoops talent … this team is deep, deeper,
deepest, as I count a very legit eight, possibly ten future NBA ballers on this
Tar Heel hoops squad.

Can UNC be beaten? This game is like the aging Jodie Foster sci-fi movie, as
this game is all about maintaining Contact. That will not be easy vs. the
4th best defensive rebounding team, the 13th best offensive rebounding team,
which just so happens to combine for the 3rd best rebounding margin overall. The
long and the short of all of this is that in the three closest games that UNC
has played this year (going 2-1 in those games), UNC is a stunning +25 in
turnover margin! Turnover margin is the bread and butter of Greenbergball, and
sadly our Hokies are gonna have to dine on Sourdough and Parkay.

North Carolina 79 Virginia Tech 70

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