The schedule just got real for IU. Tonight, IU hosts No. 14 North Carolina as part of the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
North Carolina is 5-1, with it's lone loss coming from Butler in the Maui Invitational last week. Butler dominated the Tar Heels, beating them by 11. UNC rebounded to beat D-II Chaminade by 42 the next day.
This will be UNC first big trip away from home, and based on the fact that students started camping out on Monday for the game, the Tar Heels will be in for a bit of a shock. This team features a lot of freshmen who have never experienced this the type of atmosphere that Assembly Hall provides.
Here is coach Tom Crean's pregame press conference.
Both IU and UNC have feasted on inferior opponents. The two have faced a number of teams that have helped to pad the stat sheet. At the same time, both have been tested. IU passed it's test against Georgetown while UNC failed against Butler.
The Tar Heels are not the typical Roy Williams team that we have seen in the past either. Williams usually puts together a team that features dominant big men down low and an exceptional guard. This year, the talent is more spread out. That isn't necessarily a good thing. UNC has had long scoring droughts at times this season, and if they want to beat IU, that cannot happen.
Many fans will remember the last time these two teams met at Assembly Hall in 2004. That was after Sean May decided to leave Indiana for North Carolina. The fans were horse from booing May for over two hours.
IU did get Cody Zeller, who once had UNC in the top three on his final list. Zeller's brother Tyler graduated from UNC after last season. Zeller has been noted by Williams as a point of emphasis and acknowledged that he is the man through which the offense flows through and who sets the tone on defense. Williams said that he isn't trying to beat Zeller, and won't just crash five defenders on one man.
James Michael McAdoo is by far UNC's most talented player. The 6-9 sophomore is averaging 16.8 points per game and 8.8 rebounds. He is currently projected to go fourth in the NBA Draft. Christian Watford will have his hands full defending McAdoo and will need to make him work at the other end of the court.
The Tar Heels will be without their third leading scorer PJ Hairston with a sprained left knee. He has been averaging nearly 11 points per game and four rebounds.
Dexter Strickland is the only returning starter from last season, as the rest were drafted. Strickland tore his ACL in January last season.
This could be a matchup of strength-vs-strength. Both teams like to push the tempo and are very dangerous on the fast break. IU seems to have found a good tempo and should be able to run in control this game. A quick start for the Hoosiers could mean disaster for UNC, much like in the Butler game.
IU has been rolling so far this season. The UNC matchup is this year's Kentucky since John Calipari is too chicken to face an even more talented IU team.
IU should win this game, and probably win by a comfortable margin.
We'll be live tweeting the game, so don't forget to follow us on twitter @hoosiers101.
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