After a big night in college hoops on Tuesday, the country settles down a bit as some of the bigger teams take the night off. That doesn’t mean there still isn’t some excellent action to choose from however, especially out in Charlotte where one big name school tries to bounce back after one of their worst losses in recent memory.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are a symbol of basketball’s elite. They’re the defending National Champions and were ranked as one of the best teams in the country before their brutal loss at the hands of Michigan State. Now they’ll look for redemption on their home court against Michigan’s other team, the Wolverines.
The Wolverines may not be ranked in the top 25 entering this matchup, but most scouts and analysts have them within the top 30 of all teams in the country, and a statement win against a Tar Heels team would sure catapult them into that elite upper echelon. The Wolverines are currently 6-1 and riding a three-game win streak. Their last victory was a 45-point shellacking over UC Riverside and they’ll try and carry that momentum into Wednesday’s bout with UNC.
The Wolverines had a deep and somewhat surprising run in last season’s tournament after a scary incident with their team plane. They banded together after that frightening experience and with much of the same players back on their roster this season they have the chemistry and leadership to take on anyone in the country. While they lost D.J. Wilson they still have plenty of scoring with four different players all averaging double digits. Charles Matthews leads the way with 16.7 points per game to go along with 5.4 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals. He’s been the highlight of the Wolverines season and will look for his shot with his teammates early against a North Carolina team that is still shaken up from their last loss.
The Tar Heels started off the season 5-0, but perhaps got a little too confident before their game against Michigan State. The Spartans laid the smackdown on them 63-45 and you can bet Roy Williams will have his team prepped and ready to bounce back. 45 points is a low number for ANY college basketball team to score, let alone one of the highest scoring offenses seemingly every year.
North Carolina has scored anywhere from 87-102 points in their first five games of the season so the 45 points is certainly unlikely to happen again. This high-scoring offense is led by Luke Maye and his 19.5 points per game. The 6’8” junior was held to just eight points in the loss against the Spartans but should be able to bounce back against the Wolverines on Wednesday night. His ability to pound the ball inside will cause Michigan’s defenders fits while guards on the outside will need to respect his shot. He’s hitting at a 45 percent clip from downtown this season and isn’t afraid to let the shot fly.
One player to keep an eye on before you place your bet is Joel Berry. Berry is one of the Tar Heels’ best all-around players but injured his hand at the start of the season when he broke it following a loss in a video game. If that doesn’t sound like the most mature move to you, well, welcome to college basketball. He seems to be getting over the injury fine but needs to carry more of a load in this game against the Wolverines to get the Tar Heels back in the win column. UNC’s offense is too strong to falter again at home, take North Carolina to cover.
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