Three reasons I think North Carolina doesn't match up well with KU

North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland hams it up for the cameras outside the team locker room, Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

North Carolina guard Dexter Strickland hams it up for the cameras outside the team locker room, Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

Team: North Carolina
Record: 25-10
KenPom (Ken Pomeroy) Ranking: 25
All statistics from unless otherwise noted.

3 Strengths

Ball security: North Carolina has turned it over on just 17.3 percent of its possessions this year, which ranks 36th nationally. The Tar Heels actually have been even more secure in ACC play, lowering their offensive turnover percentage to 16.5 percent. KU isn't a team that forces many turnovers either, as the Jayhawks rank 246th nationally in defensive turnover percentage (18.6 percent).

Creating steals: UNC doesn't always press, but it will almost always pressure the ball, which creates lots of opportunities for steals. The Tar Heels are 73rd nationally in steal percentage, coming away with swipes on 11.2 percent of their defensive possessions. Going primarily with a four-guard look during ACC play, UNC also led all ACC teams in steal percentage.

Avoiding fouls: UNC coach Roy Williams has historically had teams that have done an excellent job of keeping opponents off the free throw line, and this year is no different. The Tar Heels rank 16th nationally in defensive free throw rate, as despite playing at the nation's 18th-fastest pace, they have allowed just 16 free throw attempts per game to opponents.

3 Weaknesses

Getting to the free throw line: North Carolina is primarily a jump-shooting team and because of that, it hardly ever draws fouls. The Har Heels are 329th nationally in offensive free throw rate, putting up 645 free throws this year compared to 2,248 field-goal attempts. UNC averages just 18.4 free-throw tries per game.

Two-point shooting: The Tar Heels' infatuation with two-point jump shots also has hurt their two-point shooting percentage, as they have made just 46.9 percent of its shots inside the arc (199th nationally). According to, 41 percent of UNC's shots are two-point jump shots (NCAA average is 33 percent).

Defensive rebounding: Since going to a four-guard lineup, defensive rebounding has been a struggle for UNC against bigger teams like KU. In each of their last three losses, the Tar Heels allowed Duke (twice) and Miami (Fla.) to grab at least 40 percent of the available offensive rebounds (NCAA average is 31.8 percent). This will be an interesting area to watch, as KU tied for its worst offensive rebounding effort in the Bill Self era against Western Kentucky on Friday (14.8 percent offensive rebounding percentage).

3 Players to Watch

• Much like Oklahoma State's Le'Bryan Nash, UNC's 6-foot-9 forward James Michael McAdoo (No. 43) is a former McDonald's All-American whose reputation is much better than his statistics. The sophomore finished the regular season is in the top 50 in field goal attempts (451) despite putting up numbers that shouldn't warrant that kind of role.

North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo heads to the bucket over Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo heads to the bucket over Villanova forward JayVaughn Pinkston during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

McAdoo is a well-below-average two-point shooter, making just 45.3 percent of those shots in the regular season (198 of 437). His shot selection is mostly to blame, as a whopping 67 percent of his shots this year have been two-point jumpers — statistically the worst shot in basketball. He's not a good jump-shooter, either, as he made 33 percent of his two-point jump shots (NCAA average is 35 percent), has missed both of his three-pointers this year and is just a 57.3-percent free-throw shooter.

McAdoo's biggest strength is his defense, as he is 302nd in defensive rebounding percentage and 466th in steal percentage — a stat that big men usually don't specialize in. Offensively, he also is UNC's best player at drawing fouls (5.2 per 40 minutes, 215th nationally).

• Six-foot-5 guard P.J. Hairston (No. 15) was inserted into the starting lineup mid-season, and for good reason.

North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston pulls up for a three over Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

North Carolina guard P.J. Hairston pulls up for a three over Villanova guard Ryan Arcidiacono during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

The sophomore was UNC's highest volume shooter in the regular season (taking 28.5 percent of the shots when he's in; 152nd nationally) while remaining exceptionally efficient. Hairston is best from three-point range, making 38.9 percent (81 of 208), but he also is an above-average two-point shooter with 77.8-percent accuracy from the free-throw stripe. Hairston also rarely turns it over (75th nationally in turnover rate), is decent at drawing fouls (4.7 per 40 minutes) and is a good perimeter defender (332nd in steal percentage). Statistically, he's UNC's best player.

• Think of 6-foot-7 guard/forward Reggie Bullock (No. 35 and has a mohawk) as UNC's version of Iowa State's Tyrus McGee.

North Carolina guard Reggie Bullock pulls up for a three over Villanova guard James Bell during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

North Carolina guard Reggie Bullock pulls up for a three over Villanova guard James Bell during the first half on Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo. by Nick Krug

If you remember, McGee combines great three-point shooting with a microscopic turnover rate, and Bullock is the same way. In the regular season, the junior made 43.8 percent of his threes (84 of 192) while posting the nation's 62nd-best turnover rate. Though he doesn't shoot as many twos, Bullock is accurate from there as well, making 55.7 percent of those shots, which includes 39-percent accuracy on two-point jump shots (NCAA average is 35 percent). Bullock isn't as strong of a defender as McGee is (Bullock's 2.3 percent steal percentage is about average for a guard), but he's still an elite player because of his offense. If you see a UNC player with a mohawk firing an open three, just know there's a great chance it's going in.


North Carolina has played much better since going to its four-guard lineup, making an impressive jump from 44th to 25th in the KenPom rankings in just over a month.

Having said that, I think there are a lot of reasons that this is a great matchup for KU.

1. Pace: UNC plays the 18th-fastest pace nationally, and KU is a team that plays much better offensively when it can get into a running game. UNC coach Roy Williams said Saturday his team wasn't going to change its style against KU, which means the Tar Heels are likely to play a high-possession game against a better team.

2. James Michael McAdoo: A lot of people have been concerned that the four-guard lineup could give KU's defense problems, but there is one big difference between UNC's small lineup and Iowa State's: UNC has an anchor in the middle in McAdoo. The sophomore has only shot two threes all year, and while he has shot a lot of jumpers (unsuccessfully), his range won't be enough to take KU center Jeff Withey away from the bucket. Much like Kansas State forwards Thomas Gipson or Jordan Henriquez, McAdoo should allow KU to "anchor" Withey in the lane defensively, which is where he is at his best blocking shots and rotating as a help defender.

UNC will have stretch 4s in Bullock and Hairston, but KU has a better lineup to counter that this year compared to last. A season ago, a four-guard look was tough because KU had two true post players in Thomas Robinson and Withey. Robinson is gone now, and Kevin Young is one of KU's best players at closing out on three-point shooters.

3. UNC's struggles against big teams: Since going to the four-guard lineup, North Carolina's worst games have come against bigger teams in Duke and Miami. As mentioned above, UNC was dominated on the glass in those games, and KU also should have success scoring if it's able to get the ball inside to allow Withey, Young and Perry Ellis to go after undersized defenders.

The one wildcard is UNC's three-point shooting, but barring a Wichita State-like effort there, I see KU — in front of a fired-up crowd — winning this one going away.

Kansas 79, North Carolina 63

Hawk to Rock

Kevin Young is a big key for KU, as he will have to get out to three-point shooters while also making good decisions and passes when he receives the ball close to the rim. Against an inconsistent rebounding team, I see Young having a big game, as his versatility should help him play well on both ends while allowing KU to adapt to UNC's offense.

Predictions tally
28-7 record, 412 points off (11.8 points off/game)

Hawk to Rock
SE Missouri: Perry Ellis (2nd in ratings)
Michigan State: Jeff Withey (4th)
Chattanooga: Andrew White III (10th)
Washington State: Ben McLemore (4th)
Saint Louis: Perry Ellis (7th)
San Jose State: Travis Releford (2nd)
Oregon State: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Colorado: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Belmont: Kevin Young (6th)
Richmond: Jeff Withey (1st)
Ohio State: Ben McLemore (1st)
American: Jeff Withey (5th)
Temple: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (4th)
Texas Tech: Ben McLemore (4th)
Baylor: Jeff Withey (4th)
Texas: Elijah Johnson (8th)
Kansas State: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (3rd)
West Virginia: Jeff Withey (2nd)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (1st)
TCU: Kevin Young (3rd)
Oklahoma: Travis Releford (5th)
Kansas State: Naadir Tharpe (3rd)
Texas: Kevin Young (6th)
Oklahoma State: Ben McLemore (7th)
TCU: Travis Releford (4th)
Iowa State: Jeff Withey (4th)
West Virginia: Perry Ellis (10th)
Texas Tech: Jeff Withey (1st)
Baylor: Elijah Johnson (4th)
Texas Tech: Kevin Young (2nd)
Iowa State: Travis Releford (7th)
Kansas State: Jeff Withey (1st)
Western Kentucky: Jeff Withey (1st)
Average: 4th in ratings



Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Well its fine if ya wanna wear MJ clothes and wear baby blue Jordan shoes, but are ya tough?


johnsont1 1 year, 1 month ago

As long as we don't dribble too much like we did Friday we won't cough up the ball. Our guards can move, shoot, pick, and occasionally make a tough pass, so as long as they dont get nervous and dribble too much this game is a blowout just like every game of the big xii tournament


William Blake 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow! The biggest shock in this write-up is Jesse picking us by 16!

I think you got it right. Roy's game is always built for us.... fast pace game!

The margin will be decided by our conditioning. If we get tired they may make a late run and close the gap to 10 or so. Otherwise... this should be a game where CS can get some of our bench in for needed tournament experience.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 1 year, 1 month ago

Blah, blah, balh.

In Short.

Ku will min or North Carolina Will win.

We will know at the end of the gtame.

The only info in this blog.


seanswind 1 year, 1 month ago

We'll know after the first tv time-out if its going to be a long day or not.

One criticism of Roy is that he doesn't EVER change his style -- meaning he'll stubbornly make his team run the UNC offense no matter what.


Tony Bandle 1 year, 1 month ago


1] Just a small note but this is our fifth straight game on this court with the same shooting backgrounds and a huge hometown crowd.

2] To North Carolina, this will feel like a road game, not a neutral court...the road wasn't too kind to the Tarheels.

3] Everyone says it's been nine years and the Kansas-Roy Williams thing is over.....except in the mind of Roy Williams.

4] BenMac has to play better, just by the sheer law of averages.

5] NC gave Roy his 700 victory on Friday...I'm a big believer in numbers, so KU gives Bill his 300 KU victory today.

6] KU is NC's Kryptonite!!

7] KU's challenge is a succession of states..Western Kentucky, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida and Indiana until we get to a city [Louisville] at a time, at a time!!!


Kye Clark 1 year, 1 month ago

My Hawk to Rock is Travis. He excels in fast paced games.


Robert Brock 1 year, 1 month ago

Carolina won't have to apply much pressure to make Elijah Johnson cough up the ball. Same with Tharpe. Same with McLemore. Same with Releford.


Ron Franklin 1 year, 1 month ago

If McAdoo is 0/2 from 3 I look for him to go 6/6 tonight.


Jack Wilson 1 year, 1 month ago

Between Jesse and jaybate, that's all the info I need .. good stuff from both.


jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

Make their secondary breakers feel like wide outs in football running crosses. Let them know they are not going to get to run 90 feet without a bump or a screen from someone. Let Jeff run the floor 90 to get set up and turned toward the action. Jamari, on the other hand, should be assigned to sustain contact in transition the full 90 feet. Make their secondary breakers fight even to get up the floor. Even put them on the floor. Then come back strong with Jeff. The goal, as usual, is for Jeff to be strong and fresh the second half when their jumpers lose their legs.

--> Attack UNC's secondary breakers when KU is on offense.


--> This should be a game where the one two punch of Kevin and Perry should play well.

--> KU's guys are going to have to respect UNC's athelticism and understand they are going to get some shots blocked and challenged that they are not used to.

--> One more thing Self could do that would virtually ensure an easy KU victory that he will never, unfortunately do, is play a 2-2-1 zone press on all made baskets. Roy likes to run on made baskets. He usually picks up 2-4 easy baskets running on made baskets over the course of a game, just because opponents are not used to it. A 2-2-1 zone press stops that completely.

--> Miminize the secondary break baskets, and eliminate the easy baskets from running on made baskets, and by definition, UNC cannot separate. Guard the trey stripe and keep Jeff in the game the full second half, and KU wins by 15 every time, even with some TO problems.

--> Let them have parity on the glass, and the athleticism of UNC turns it into a tough game to be decided by jump shooting and they probably upset KU.

--> Ferocious physical defense they don't like. No one does. As always, KU's best friend is its Boa Constrictor defense with the Withey Effect.


jaybate 1 year, 1 month ago

Some thoughts here.

--> This is not really a four guard offense in terms of size, at all. They start 6-9 and 6-7. If you add KU inches to them, they are 6-10 and 6-8. So: it is a slender, but normal length team for D1 these days. What makes it a bit different is that it is running a post and four guard motion offense. It is doing this for the same reason all the other teams are doing it. Moving screening is the new vogue. This is basically the kind of team Ohio State and Okie State threw at KU with more speed, and less muscle playing a high trip game instead of 70 point muscle.

--> Barring a freakish trey shooting performance by UNC coupled with another bad trey performance by KU, the decisive factors will be KU's shooting percentage, offensive rebounding, and KU's get back rate on defense (beating UNC back to force UNC into half court sets). Just as KU uses strips and blocks to get an edge in extra possessions for higher percentage shots, UNC relies on the secondary break to pick up 3-6 high percentage shots in transition. If KU stops the secondary break, it almost certainly wins, other things equal.

--> How to discourage the secondary break? Think of the secondary break as making Jeff run 90 feet to guard from behind at a disadvantage as many plays as possible. Over time he tires and fouls. When he fouls, he comes out. When he comes out the opponent shoots 45-50% instead of 35-40%. For this reason, Roy has to risk everything to try to tire and foul up Jeff. Thus, attacking Jeff in half court, and making him chase the secondary break are his only real combined chance of winning, if KU plays a sound game otherwise. Jeff could easily stop the secondary break all by himself...for awhile. He could run the floor and basically swat every attempted secondary break lay up attempt. Self being Self, he might even ask Jeff to do this. I hope Self's manly thing does not tempt him into this tactic for it would wear Jeff down very, very quickly. The way to beat the secondary break, as with most opposing strategies and tactics is before it happens. Make a high percentage of your shots, grab a high number of offensive rebounds, get back quick on defense, and block and shove the secondary breakers, especially with Jeff's teammates as the offensive rebound comes off the rim. These all combine to reduce the secondary break opps that Jeff has to run 90 feet to stop. Sub a lot for Jeff in the first half and let Jamari really rough up their secondary breakers.


dynamitehawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Oh sweet Jesus. I will be at the game....With my wife... Who graduated from UNC. Kiss cam us, and I swear she will punch me in the junk.


3ballshooter 1 year, 1 month ago

Yo, that's not Rod Strickland in the picture. Last I checked his name is Dexter while Rod is an assistant coach at Kentucky.


distant_voice 1 year, 1 month ago

If North Carolina plays like they did on Friday and KU plays like they did on Friday, look for a 20 point North Carolina blowout.


blindrabbit 1 year, 1 month ago

Hopefully win number 2101 for KU, Hopefully not win number 2091 for UNC.


Michael Luby 1 year, 1 month ago

Damn Jesse, working late tonight. Thanks for the post now get some rest!


Michael Luby 1 year, 1 month ago

Im going more conservative here. If KU lets them stay in the game, they could get beat. If they come out hot, they win by 8. Ben needs an offensive jump start, a night to prove to scouts again why he should be the #1 pick. He should get that today with a huge come back game.


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