If you love North Carolina and love sports these are the weekends that you live for as a fan. Well maybe you can live without what the gridiron team did yesterday against Georgia Tech, but still, full slates of games in the NBA & NFL with tons of former UNC Basketball and Football players, and now, it’s time for another game by the Carolina basketball team. Today, in the friendly confine of the Dean Dome, with tip off time being at 2:30 p.m. EST (ESPNU), #11 AP/#12 USA Today North Carolina (1-0) will host Florida Atlantic (0-0) as part of the Maui Invitational. Yes, the tournament in Hawaii that the Heels will be going to whether they win or lose this match up.
This is technically the first game for both teams in the Maui Invitational but, regardless of Sunday’s outcome, only the Tar Heels will advance to the championship round next week in Hawaii. From CBS Sports
In its second game of the year, against an inferior squad on paper, basically meaning that this is once again about answering the many questions that both the pre-season and the first match up brought up more than the opponent that the team will face. Such as who is head coach Roy Wiliams going to be starting next to sophomore James McAdoo? Will it be sophomore Hubert Davis, who has started both the scrimmage against Shaw and the season opener vs Gardner-Webb, or will it be freshman Joel James, who started in the second half of the first game of the season. Add to that, will the other freshman big man, Brice Johnson, get more or less playing time. And speaking of McAdoo, will he show us that he can be a double double player year round, or not. Who is going to step up and hit the shots from the wings, since going 1 for 12 is not going to cut it for this squad if they want to stay as a top team in the nation. How much can Marcus Paige improve and can he be the floor general for this squad? And as a whole will the team step up and hit better from the free throw line than they did against GWU when they went 9 for 19.
While all these questions, and others as well, will not be answered in the next forty minutes of playing time, this game should begin give us a glimpse on how things should go for the upcoming season. As I said in the recap of the first game the one thing that this squad needs to do is to gel more and more as well as for both the upperclassmen and the freshmen to find their role on the team. As soon as that happens it will be a lot easier to truly see how this campaign will go for the Tar Heels.
But before I make this preview sound like it’s a cake walk, it’s not. Just like Gardner-Webb, Florida Atlantic returns plenty of players from a season ago. This means that the talented, but inexperienced, Tar Heels will go up against a team that is basically playing their NCAA Tournament in the first game of the season, having nothing to lose. All of that is a recipe for an upset if Carolina does not come out from the get go and play as good as they can.
In the end this should be a good game to see some progress, but it can not be taken lightly and I am sure that the coaching staff has pounded that into the team. The Vegas insiders have Carolina as a 22 points favorite, and while I am sure that it’s going to be the Heels winning this one, I am not sure they will cover such a large spread. I see this match up going 81 to 65 for UNC with McAdoo having another double double while leading his team to their second win of the season.
As usual for more information about North Carolina basketball and/or football, teams and players, present and past, make sure to check back often on isportsweb!