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UNC vs. Arkansas Preview

No. 1 seed North Carolina and No. 8 seed Arkansas will clash in an up-tempo affair for a spot in the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16. Tip time is 6:10 p.m. on Sunday (TNT).

North Carolina (28-7, 14-4 ACC) vs. Arkansas (26-9, 12-6 SEC)
Greenville, S.C. – Bon Secours Wellness Arena
Sunday, 6:10 p.m.
TNT (Brian Anderson, Chris Webber, Lewis Johnson)

Quotables

“It took a tremendous defensive effort by our basketball team tonight. I kind of shortened the bench, if you noticed, but I had some guys that had a nice rhythm going. And I don't know what happened to Moses (Kingsley), but he awakened today and he was big. But it's a good win for us, and we're looking forward to advancing.” – Arkansas head coach Mike Anderson on his team’s first round win over Seton Hall

“We've been in a lot of those this year. And I know the guys on the team last year, we lost a lot of close ones like that. So you live and you learn in situations like that. And I think we're built for close games like that. You obviously don't want to be -- your dream is to win them comfortably. But when it's a grinding, a two-point game, I think that's where we're at our best.” – Arkansas guard Dusty Hannahs on playing in close games

“Well, we've got to attack them back. I think they do want to speed you up. We want to play at that pace ourselves. We want them to go fast. We want to go fast, but we've got to take care of the basketball. They're very aggressive. They play very hard on the defensive end of the floor. We've got to make sure that we don't turn the ball over.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams on matching Arkansas’s pace

PREGAME NOTES

Heels Blowout Texas Southern: The top-seeded Tar Heels cruised into the second round after a 103-64 blowout of No. 16 seed Texas Southern on Friday. UNC built an early double-digit lead with a 16-0 run and never looked back. ACC Player of the Year Justin Jackson broke out of his four-game shooting slump, scoring a game-high 21 points and converting 5-of-8 attempts from 3-point range. The Tar Heels outclassed the Tigers in the paint as Isaiah Hicks, Kennedy Meeks, Tony Bradley and Luke Maye all scored in double digits. The nation’s top offensive rebounding team also flexed its muscles on the glass, as UNC posted a 20-6 edge in offensive rebounds, which led to a season-high 29 second-chance points. Roy Williams improved to 27-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament’s opening round.

Razorbacks Hold Off the Pirates: In one of the most competitive games of the first round, Arkansas outlasted Seton Hall, 77-71, in the South Region’s 8-9 matchup. The game wasn’t without controversy, though, as Seton Hall was called for a questionable flagrant foul when they tried to foul, down 72-71, with 18.3 seconds left on the clock. Arkansas rallied from an eight-point deficit with nine minutes remaining behind the play of senior forward Moses Kingsley. The second-team All-SEC forward dominated down low, scoring a game-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Kingsley also added four blocks to his totals. The Razorbacks were outrebounded by the Pirates, 46-32, but were still able to take control of the game with their fast pace.

Arkansas Spotlight: Mike Anderson’s squad was one of the hottest in the country at the conclusion of the regular season. The Razorbacks won six of their last SEC seven games, helping build a strong case for their eventual bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Hogs then secured their spot by reaching the SEC Tournament final against Kentucky, where they lost, 82-65. The Razorbacks rank 26th in adjusted offensive efficiency (116.7) and 94th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to kenpom.com, and take care of the ball rather well considering they average more than 73 possessions per game. Senior guard Dusty Hannahs leads the Hogs in scoring (14.6 ppg), while junior guard Daryl Macon averages 13.3 points per game off the bench.

Hogs Run Deep: When you run a high-tempo offense like Arkansas’s, depth is key to consistently pushing the ball down the court. The Razorbacks have nine players averaging more than 10 minutes per game with each playing in all 35 games this season. This mixture of good health and depth allows Anderson to tinker with his lineups and offer versatile looks. The result is a team with four players averaging double figures in points, which prevents opposing defenses from focusing on just one or two players. Kingsley averages the most minutes per game on the team (27.4), but even that number is low when considering the Razorbacks’ lack of bigs.

Matchup to Watch: Arkansas will likely not survive another game in the NCAA Tournament when putting up a minus-14 rebounding margin, especially against a team that was plus-27 in their opening game. Kingsley (7.8 rpg) is the lone Arkansas player averaging more than four rebounds per game, which highlights the concern for a team that ranks 330th in defensive rebounding percentage (34.0) and 207th in rebound margin (minus-0.3). While the storylines entering this game will focus on the similar up-tempo styles of these programs, UNC’s dominance on the glass – the Tar Heels lead the nation in rebound margin (plus-13.1) and offensive rebounding percentage (42.2) – will serve as the most defining factor once the game tips.

Last Meeting: UNC defeated Arkansas, 87-78, on March 21, 2015, to advance to the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. Marcus Paige led the Tar Heels with 22 points, 20 of which came in the second half. The win was Roy Williams’s 32nd tournament win and the 750th of his career.

Series History: UNC leads the all-time series, 5-3, including a 3-2 edge in the NCAA Tournament.

Projected UNC Starters:
2 Joel Berry (6-0, 195, Jr.) – 14.8 ppg, 3.7 apg
3 Kennedy Meeks (6-10, 260, Sr.) - 12.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg
4 Isaiah Hicks (6-9, 242, Sr.) - 12.3 ppg, 5.7 rpg
44 Justin Jackson (6-8, 210, Jr.) – 18.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg
1 Theo Pinson (6-6, 211, Jr.) – 6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg

Top Reserves:
5 Tony Bradley (6-11, 240, Fr.) –7.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg
0 Nate Britt (6-1, 175, Sr.) – 4.5 ppg, 2.3 apg
32 Luke Maye (6-8, 235, So.) – 4.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg

Projected Arkansas Starters:
0 Jaylen Barford (6-3, 202, Jr.) – 12.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg
3 Dusty Hannahs (6-3, 210, Sr.) – 14.6 ppg, 1.7 rpg
13 Dustin Thomas (6-8, 225, Jr.) – 5.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg
21 Manuale Watkins (6-3, 222, Sr.) – 6.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg
33 Moses Kingsley (6-10, 230, Sr.) – 11.8 ppg, 7.8 rpg

Top Reserves:
4 Daryl Macon (6-3, 185, Jr.) – 13.4 ppg, 2.6 rpg
31 Anton Beard (6-0, 198, Jr.) – 7.4 ppg, 2.0 rpg

UNC Info
Schedule/Results
Stats
Roster & Bios

Arkansas Info
Schedule/Results
Stats
Roster


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