Previewing Nicholls State

For the first time in a month, the Tar Heels are playing a home game. UNC plays host to Nicholls State at 9 p.m. Wednesday and it will be televised by ESPNU.

North Carolina (9-0) vs. Nicholls State (4-7)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
9 p.m., ESPNU


Season to Date: Nicholls State arrives in Chapel Hill with a 4-7 record on the season, including a 1-7 mark on the road. Head coach J.P. Piper has consistently built tough schedules during his tenure with the Colonels, and this season is no exception. His squad has already traveled to Florida State, California, LSU and Alabama. The difficult slate may be paying dividends, however, as the Colonels have won three of their last four games, including their first road win at New Orleans (75-60), who upset N.C. State earlier this season.

Making Up For Lost Time: Red-shirt sophomore Michael Czepil suffered a season-ending injury during 2006-07 preseason workouts, but the guard has bounced back to lead the Colonels in scoring with an 11.6 points per game average. He also ranks first in the Southland Conference with a 96.0 free throw percentage.

Spreading the Wealth: While the Colonels' starting five average 25.9 minutes per game, the bench sees plenty of action as well. Ten players contribute at least nine minutes of work each contest, led by Czepil's 30.8 minutes. Eight different players have scored in double-digits this season.

Deep Threat: Junior Ryan Bathie connected on a school-record 86 three-pointers last season, and enters Wednesday night's game with 145 career bombs to his credit. The forward, who is averaging 11.5 points per contest, is shooting 31.3 percent from behind the arc. The Colonels as a team have taken 257 three-pointers this season while hitting on a 32.3 percent clip.

Offensive Struggles: The Colonels are surrendering 18.4 turnovers per game (including a 27-TO performance against Florida State) and are shooting 42.4% from the field (including a 27.6% outing against Tulane).

From Down Under: Nicholls State's roster features five Australians in Bathie (Melbourne), freshman Anatoly Bose (Sydney), sophomore Mitch Boyce (Townsville), Czepil (Melbourne) and freshman Dominic Friend (Geelong). There are currently only 33 Australians playing in college basketball this season.

Culture Shock: Not only will the Colonels be playing a No.1-ranked opponent for the first time in school history on Wednesday night, but they will also be playing in front of 21,750 fans at the Smith Center. Nicholls State's recent victories over Louisiana-Monroe and Lipscomb drew crowds of 169 and 88 people, respectively.

Series History: This is the first meeting between these two programs.

Location: Thibodaux, La.
Enrollment: 6,814
Conference: Southland
Nickname: Colonels
Color: Red & Gray
Head Coach: J.P. Piper
Record at NSU: 27-70
Last Year: 8-22

Projected Starters:
 5 Justin Payne (5-11, 170, Jr.) – 3.9 ppg, 2.6 spg
 3 Michael Czepil (6-2, 180, So.) - 11.6 ppg, 2.9 apg
20 Adonis Gray (6-4, 200, Sr.) – 8.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg
21 Ryan Bathie (6-6, 205, Jr.) - 11.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg
11 Dominic Friend (6-7, 250, Fr.) – 8.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg

Key Reserves:
23 Gil Verner (6-1, 180, Jr.) – 6.4 ppg
31 Anatoly Bose (6-6, 200, Fr.) – 5.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg

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