(19) North Carolina (10-3) at Wake Forest (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, January 5, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: LJVM Coliseum (14,665) -- Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: UNC 7-2, Wake Forest 9-0. Away Record: UNC 1-1, Wake Forest 0-1. Neutral Record: UNC 2-0, Wake Forest 1-2. Conference Record: UNC 0-0, Wake Forest 0-0. Series Record: North Carolina leads, 155-65.
GAME NOTES: A pair of 10-3 teams will face off at the LJVM Coliseum on Sunday night, as the Wake Forest Demon Deacons play host to the 19th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for each side.
UNC has made a splash on the national radar this season with one of the country's most impressive resumes, having already defeated Louisville (93-84), Michigan State (79-65) and Kentucky (82-77), three nationally-ranked teams with a combined six losses coming into the weekend. The Tar Heels are currently winners of three straight, most recently downing UNC Wilmington at home last Tuesday, 84-51.
Wake Forest has been impressive in its own right this season, especially at LJVM Coliseum, where it has gone unbeaten in nine outings. The Deacons had been winners of four in a row prior to facing off with Xavier on the road on Dec. 28, when they came away with a 68-53 setback.
After 220 all-time meetings between these intrastate rivals, UNC holds a comfortable 155-65 advantage over Wake Forest. The Tar Heels took last season's matchup in Chapel Hill, 87-62.
The Tar Heels' most recent contest was never in question, as they outshot UNCG from the field, 52.3 percent to 31.1 percent, on their way to the 33-point victory. James Michael McAdoo was the catalyst in the easy win, shooting 11- of-14 from the floor on his way to 23 points while collecting 10 rebounds for good measure. Marcus Paige scored 15 points and swiped three steals, while Leslie McDonald and Brice Johnson each contributed 14 points off the bench.
UNC has grown accustomed to these types of well-rounded efforts this season, as it shoots 47.4 percent from the field for 80.1 ppg, while allowing just 68.5 ppg on 37.9 percent shooting. It also consistently comes out ahead in the rebounding (+5.5) and turnover (+2.7) battles. Paige has been outstanding in his sophomore season, scoring 18.4 ppg, while sporting a nearly flawless free- throw percentage (64-of-69). McAdoo (14.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Johnson (11.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg) and J.P. Tokoto (10.2 ppg, 5.5 rpg) are all important factors down low, while McDonald (12.3 ppg) has been an asset in his four games since returning from suspension.
The Deacons had an uncharacteristically poor showing in their most recent contest, as they shot just 35.8 percent from the field and 47.6 percent from the free-throw line in the 15-point defeat at the hands of Xavier. With just 53 points, it was their worst offensive performance of the season, which spoiled a solid effort on the defensive end of the floor, as they held Xavier to under 40 percent shooting. Codi Miller-McIntyre netted 11 points to lead the way, while Coron Williams chipped in with 10.
The performance was an exception rather than the rule for Wake Forest this season, as it scores 75.6 points per game (for a +8.7 scoring margin) on 45 percent efficiency from the field, while also proving to be an outstanding rebounding club, grabbing 42.8 per game for a +7.3 margin. Miller-McIntyre is the unquestioned go-to performer, pouring in 17.0 ppg. Devin Thomas (11.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg) is a nightly double-double threat, while Travis McKie and Williams each score 10.4 ppg.
Wake Forest's dominance at home cannot be overlooked, and while UNC has been impressive this season, it is far from infallible. Still, the Tar Heels have made a habit of stepping up in big spots this season and is more than capable of capturing a strong road win here to open up 1-0 in the ACC.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Carolina 77, Wake Forest 73
01/05 10:32:40 ET