North Carolina (8-1) vs. Davidson (5-2)
Chapel Hill, N.C. – Dean E. Smith Center
Wednesday, 9 p.m.
ESPN2 (Bob Wischusen, Laphonso Ellis)
"The depth and versatility is at the highest level we've ever had, combined, since I've been here." – Davidson head coach Bob McKillop
“I believe he’s one of the best coaches in our game. He’s one of the finest gentlemen that we have in our game.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams on McKillop
UNC’s Injuries Mounting: Joel Berry will become the third Tar Heel through 10 games to miss a contest due to injury against Davidson. UNC has managed well enough without Theo Pinson, but Berry’s absence due to a left ankle sprain leaves Roy Williams without his preseason starting backcourt. Pinson’s energy was noticeably missing in last week’s loss at Indiana. Berry has played at an elite level for the most part on both ends of the floor, and how the Tar Heels manage that void will be the key to success against the Wildcats.
Davidson Spotlight: The Wildcats were picked fourth in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll after finishing the 2015-16 season with a 20-13 record. Head coach Bob McKillop returns four starters, led by first-team preseason A-10 selection Jack Gibbs. Davidson has played a competitive schedule thus far, dropping its second game of the season to Clemson before notching wins over Missouri and Arizona State. The Wildcats lost at Charleston, 76-61, on Sunday. McKillop’s squad is balanced this season, ranking 47th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency (109.2) while holding opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 43.2 (25th), according to kenpom.com.
Post Presence: While Gibbs has earned the headlines for this Wildcats team, junior forward Peyton Aldridge is a quality secondary option. The 6-foot-8, 225-pounder earned third-team preseason A-10 honors following a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Aldridge has upped those averages this season, while also knocking down 37.8 percent of his 3-pointers. He’s second on the team in made 3-pointers, which highlights his ability to extend the floor in a stretch role.
Matchup to Watch: That Berry is missing this particular game is a stroke of bad luck for the Tar Heels given that Davidson’s best player is its point guard. Gibbs is averaging 23.3 points per game and will serve as a significant test for UNC’s backup point guards. Nate Britt and Seventh Woods will likely receive the bulk of the minutes at point guard, although Williams indicated that senior Stilman White could play as well. Gibbs accounts for 32.7 percent of his team’s shots while on the court, according to kenpom.com, and his stats indicate a high level of responsibility for making the offense flow. The senior is shooting 42.6 percent and averaging 3.5 turnovers per game, so UNC’s ability to force plenty of tough shots and turnovers will determine which side wins this matchup.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Wildcats, 98-65, at the Smith Center on Dec. 6, 2015. UNC built a 10-point lead less than seven minutes into the game and led 47-24 at halftime. Five Tar Heels scored in double figures, led by Nate Britt’s 17 points.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 64-11.
Projected UNC Starters:
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 6.6 ppg, 2.6 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 13.2 ppg, 10.2 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 13.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 15.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg
24 Kenny Williams (6-4, 180, So.) - 7.2 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Projected Davidson Starters:
12 Jack Gibbs (6-0, 195, Sr.) – 23.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg
23 Peyton Aldridge (6-8, 225, Jr.) – 19.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg
22 Will Magarity (6-11, 240, Jr.) - 8.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg
03 Jon Axel Gudmundsson (6-4, 190, Fr.) – 6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg
32 Rusty Reigel (6-2, 205, Jr.) – 5.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg