North Carolina (3-1) vs. Northwestern (3-0)
Kansas City, Mo. – Sprint Center
Monday, 9:15 p.m.
ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen, Dan Dakich)
"He's playing on a whole other level. He's just very involved, shooting the ball and driving the ball. We're a team with strength in numbers and him playing this well is going to open up things for everybody." – Northwestern guard Tre Demps on teammate Bryant McIntosh
Season to Date: Northwestern enters Monday’s contest with a 3-0 record. The Wildcats have defeated UMass Lowell (79-57), Fairfield (79-72) and Columbia (83-80, OT). Former Duke player and assistant coach and current Northwestern coach Chris Collins led his team to a 15-17 record last season. The Wildcats were tabbed 10th in the Big Ten’s preseason poll.
Sophomore Stepping Up: Bryant McIntosh was third in scoring for the Wildcats in 2014-15, averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 assists per game. The 6-foot-3 guard was expected to take a step forward this season, and he showed why in Friday’s win over Columbia. With Northwestern trailing by 12 points in the second half, McIntosh led his team back with a career-high 32 points, including a game-tying jumper in the final minute, to go along with six assists. For the season, McIntosh is shooting 55.8 percent from the floor and 56.3 percent from long range.
Scoring the Ball: The Wildcats have been efficient scoring the ball against their lesser competition to open the season, ranking 56th nationally in both adjusted offensive efficiency (107.3) and effective field goal percentage, according to kenpom.com. Northwestern is averaging 80.3 points per game while shooting 47.3 percent from the floor and 35.8 percent from long range.
Law Out: Northwestern returned all five starters from last season, but only have four suiting up. Sophomore Vic Law had surgery to replace a torn labrum in his left shoulder and will miss the 2015-16 season. The 6-foot-7 forward Law appeared in all 32 games and made 19 starts during his freshman season last year. He averaged 7.0 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and shot 44.2 percent from 3-point range in Big Ten play (5th).
Size in the Middle: Senior center Alex Olah takes up a significant portion of the paint with his 7-foot, 275-pound build. The Romanian was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week for his 21-point, 12-rebound performance over UMass Lowell on Nov. 13. Olah is averaging 13.3 points per game on 65.2 percent shooting. He’s also shooting 76.9 percent from the free throw line (10-of-13).
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Wildcats, 97-67, at the Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston on Nov. 29, 1978.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with Northwestern, 3-1.
30 Bryant McIntosh (6-3, 185, So.) – 21.3 ppg, 6.3 apg
14 Tre Demps (6-3, 202, Sr.) - 15.3 ppg, 4.0 apg
22 Alex Olah (7-0, 275, Sr.) - 13.3 ppg, 8.0 rpg
35 Aaron Faizon (6-8, 213, Fr.) - 12.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg
34 Sanjay Lumpkin (6-6, 220, Jr.) - 2.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg
34 Scottie Lindsey (6-5, 205, So.) - 5.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg
32 Nathan Taphorn (6-2, 185, So.) - 5.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg
(Photo by USA Today Sports)