North Carolina (10-3) at Virginia (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 6, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: John Paul Jones Arena (14,593) -- Charlottesville, Virginia. Television: ESPNU. Home Record: UNC 7-0, UVA 9-1. Away Record: UNC 1-2, UVA 1-1. Neutral Record: UNC 2-1, UVA 0-1. Conference Record: UNC 0-0, UVA 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 127-49.
GAME NOTES: The North Carolina Tar Heels are set to tip-off their Atlantic Coast Conference season as they venture to John Paul Jones Arena to tangle with the Virginia Cavaliers on Sunday night.
The Tar Heels pulled off a 79-73 upset of UNLV on Dec. 29 to close out 2012 with a 10-3 overall record. Roy Williams and his team were not too successful on the road during the non-conference slate, going 2-2 in away games with double-digit losses at Indiana (83-59) and Texas (85-67). UNC has the top scoring offense in the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation with 83.6 points per game on an astounding 19.5 assists per contest, but it is nowhere near as impressive on the defensive end, where it is giving up 69.9 ppg.
It will be interesting to see how the Tar Heels' impressive offense performs against Virginia, which leads the ACC in scoring defense with only 50.7 points allowed per contest. UVA also has a 10-3 record thanks to its 74-39 rout of Wofford on Dec. 30. The Cavaliers shot a season-high 63.8 percent from the field and held an opponent under 40 points for the third time this season.The victory was the ninth in 10 outings for the Cavaliers, who are 9-1 at John Paul Jones Arena on the season. Recent history is on UVA's side in this one as coach Tony Bennett is 3-0 in ACC openers.
The Tar Heels have won the last three games in their series versus Virginia to build a 127-49 lead in the rivalry. The Cavaliers are just 30-44 all-time versus UNC in Charlottesville and winless in four tries against the Tar Heels at John Paul Jones Arena.
North Carolina did not look like an underdog early on last time out, as it held a 19-6 lead after nine minutes when J.P. Tokoto tipped in a Marcus Paige miss. The Tar Heels then sustained a UNLV run after the break and made free throws when it matted to come out on top. Dexter Strickland scored 16 points, P.J. Hairston posted 15 points to go with four steals, and James Michael McAdoo added 13 points and nine rebounds. McAdoo is not living up to the player of the year candidate expectations placed upon him after his promising freshman campaign in 2011-12, but the sophomore forward is still pacing the team with decent averages of 14.8 points and 8.3 boards. Reggie Bullock (13.1) and Hairston (12.4) are both carrying double-digit scoring averages into league action as well.
Mike Tobey scored 19 points off the bench to spearhead Virginia's offensive outburst against Wofford last Sunday. Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell each added 15 points, while the Cavaliers held a 31-19 edge in the rebounding battle and forced 17 Wofford turnovers. Harris, who has scored in double figures in 11 of 13 games, leads the team with 15 ppg. Mitchell is near a double-double with 13.2 points and 9.2 boards per outing, while Darion Atkins is netting a career-high 8.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game.
Although the Tar Heels took down the talented Runnin' Rebels their last time out, they will have a much tougher time against this unranked conference rival. Virginia's stifling defense will force UNC to play at a much slower pace than it is accustomed to. The Cavaliers may not run away with it, but they should be able to overpower their way to a win over North Carolina.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 68, North Carolina 64
01/06 10:31:29 ET