GAME NOTES: With more wins over No. 1 ranked opponents than any other program in the NCAA, the 14th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels will try to spoil the top-ranked Indiana Hoosiers' perfect record when the two collide at Assembly Hall for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.
UNC has knocked off the first-ranked team in the nation 12 times in its history. The Tar Heels improved to 5-1 in their last Maui Invitational appearance with a 112-70 win over the hosting Chaminade Silverswords. Roy Williams and his squad were upset by Butler in the second round of the tourney, but all of its wins have been by widespread margins. The results so far have given UNC a +22.2 ppg scoring margin and an 85.3 ppg scoring average, the latter ranking in the top 10 in the nation.
The Hoosiers are finally thriving once again as Tom Crean has officially resurrected the troubled program. Indiana has ran out to a 6-0 start with wins over Georgia and Georgetown highlighting its journey so far. The Hoosiers have engineered their perfect beginning to the year by leading the nation in free throws attempts per game (32.0), while ranking second in free throws made per game (23.7) and fourth nationally in scoring (88.7 ppg).
Indiana leads the all-time series with UNC, 7-5. Seven of the previous 12 meetings were held on neutral floors, including the 1981 National Championship game when the Hoosiers took down the Tar Heels in Philadelphia to earn the right to cut down the nets.
While ACC player of the year Tyler Zeller and Harrison Barnes led the Tar Heels last season, the go-to-guy for their 2012-2013 campaign is James Michael McAdoo. The sophomore forward showed promise last season, but was relegated to the bench behind John Henson and Zeller. Now McAdoo is pacing the team with 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest. UNC also found a new point guard to make up for Kendall Marshall's departure to the NBA. Freshman guard Marcus Paige is off to a decent start as the team's new floor general. Paige scored 13 points and dished out five assists versus Butler before suffering a minor injury to his back. He was limited versus Chaminade, but he will be healthy for this one. UNC will be without P.J. Hairston, which means Reggie Bullock (12.7 ppg) and Leslie McDonald (8.8 ppg) will need to produce a little extra from the wing positions.
Crean's team is coming off a 101-53 win over in-state rival Ball State. The margin of victory was the largest in the 21-game history of the rivalry which began in 1934. Indiana had a balanced attack as Will Sheehey scored 19 points while Jordan Hulls, Cody Zeller, and Christian Watford all reached double digits as well. Zeller and Watford make up one of the best front lines in college basketball. The duo is combining to produce 28.4 points and 15.7 rebounds per game. Hulls is third on the squad with 13 ppg and his lights out shooting from long distance (54.3 percent 3PT) makes it impossible to pressure the Hoosiers' big guys from the perimeter. Victory Oladipo (11 ppg) and Sheehey (10.7 ppg) are also chipping in more than 10 ppg each.
This will be the toughest game of the season to this point for both sides. Although UNC is one of the top teams in the nation once again, it will still be a big underdog going into Assembly Hall. Indiana has very few weaknesses and Crean's bold coaching reduces the chances of a flat performance from his Hoosiers.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Indiana 81, North Carolina 73
11/27 10:35:03 ET
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