North Carolina (7-0) vs. Indiana (4-1)
Bloomington, Ind. – Assembly Hall
Wednesday, 9 p.m. EST
ESPN (Dave O’Brien, Dick Vitale)
“I’d put their ability to rebound the ball with the best we've had come in here in my nine years at Indiana.” – Indiana head coach Tom Crean on UNC
“He’s much more comfortable in what he’s doing offensively… He’s given them a presence inside offensively. He’s not getting in foul trouble nearly as much, so he’s playing more minutes, which is really helping them… I think he’s better in every phase of the game. That year of experience has been really good for him.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams on Indiana forward Thomas Bryant
Heels Streaking: The third-ranked Tar Heels are playing as well as any team in the country, and as such, have yet to be tested in the final minutes of any contest (UNC has won all seven of its games by 15 points or more). Roy Williams’s squad is shooting 51.9 percent to its opponents’ 37.0 percent while outrebounding its opponents by 17.3 rebounds per game. Five Tar Heels are averaging double figures, led by junior point guard Joel Berry, who has topped the 20-point threshold four times and is averaging 17.1 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting.
Hoosiers Spotlight: Tom Crean’s ninth team in Bloomington announced its presence on the national scene early with a 103-99 overtime win over then-No. 2 Kansas. After easy wins over UMass-Lowell and Liberty, the Hoosiers were upset in overtime at Fort Wayne, 71-68. Four players are scoring in double figures for a Hoosiers squad averaging 88.6 points per game. Indiana ranks 11th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 45th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com.
Blackmon Questionable: James Blackmon (20.5 ppg) has effectively filled the backcourt scoring void left by Yogi Ferrell, although the junior guard suffered a knee injury in the loss at Fort Wayne and is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game. He did not play in Indiana’s win over Mississippi Valley State on Sunday. If Blackmon is unable to play against UNC, junior guard Robert Johnson will be called upon to carry the perimeter scoring responsibility. Johnson, who has started 60 career games, is averaging 14.8 points over his last four games. Neither Blackmon nor Johnson -- both players that Roy Williams recruited and offered as high schoolers - suited up against UNC in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16 last March due to injury.
Matchup to Watch: For the second game in a row, UNC’s bigs will be tested by a frontcourt considered among the nation’s elite. Indiana’s post duo of Thomas Bryant and OG Anunoby are better athletes than Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ and Vitto Brown, which makes things more difficult for Kennedy Meeks. The senior center excelled on the boards against the Badgers, and will need to deliver similar results against a Hoosiers squad that ranks third nationally in offensive rebounding percentage (42.4). Indiana senior forward Colin Hartman, who started 24 games last season, is out indefinitely with a knee injury, forcing 6-foot-8 sophomore Juwan Morgan to step into more minutes off the bench. UNC freshman center Tony Bradley will be called upon to alleviate any foul concerns, while sophomore forward Luke Maye is questionable to play after missing four games due to an ankle sprain.
Stat of Note: The Hoosiers have averaged 9.7 3-point made field goals over the past two seasons, which is tops nationally. Indiana is shooting 39.8 percent from long range through five games this season.
Last Meeting: UNC defeated Indiana in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, 101-86, on March 25, 2016. Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels with 21 points and Brice Johnson added 20 points and 10 rebounds. UNC shot 51.6 percent from the floor and held Indiana to 41.0 percent. Yogi Ferrell paced the Hoosiers with 25 points.
Series History: Indiana leads the all-time series, 8-6.
Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 17.1 ppg, 4.3 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 13.7 ppg, 10.7 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 14.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Projected Indiana Starters:
3 OG Anunoby (6-8, 235, So.) – 11.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg
4 Robert Johnson (6-3, 195, Jr.) – 13.8 ppg, 3.0 apg
31 Thomas Bryant (6-10, 255, So.) - 13.6 ppg, 8.2 rpg
2 Josh Newkirk (6-1, 195, Jr.) – 7.2 ppg, 3.6 apg
1 James Blackmon (6-4, 200, Jr.) – 20.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg