A Brief North Carolina Scouting Report

Grant Halverson

Kansas takes on a streaking North Carolina team in the round of 32 as they attempt to reach their third Sweet 16 in a row

North Carolina has been a different team since switching to their smaller lineup, but their season long stats lead to come concerns as well. For one, North Carolina shoots 37.5% from behind the arc, which ranks 35th nationally, and they shot just under 37% from three in ACC play.

Fortunately the Heels don't shoot threes all that often, taking fewer than a third of their shots from behind the arc (and it was even lower in ACC play, so the switch to the smaller lineup didn't result to more deep shooting). The Tar Heels have a few guys who take a lot of threes, but for the most part they actually depend on the two point jumper, with James Michael McAdoo being the biggest offender.

That, of course, is good news and bad news. The good news is that the two point jumper is the most inefficient shot out there, but the bad news is if they don't need to get to the rim to score it negates Kansas's biggest defensive weapon. For the Heels, PJ Hairston, Reggie Bullock, Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald have all taken over 100 threes, with Hairston over 200 and Bullock close (though McDonald plays fewer than 15 minutes per game and has taken 113 threes), with Bullock shooting 44% and Hairston at 39%. Keeping them from getting good looks (or hoping they have an off day) will be the key to defending the Heels.

In a rare opportunity, Kansas will have a pretty good edge at point guard. Marcus Paige has just a 43.2% eFG and has an assist rate just .7 higher than his TO rate. Of course, this means Johnson and Tharpe will have a lot of pressure to outplay UNC's primary ballhandlers, and it will be a big key to victory.

Defensively, opponents get to the rim and take threes against the Heels at about the same rate they do against Kansas. The difference is that UNC blocks just 8% of attempts at the rim and opponents shoot 61% against them at the rim. Kansas likes to get the ball inside, but establishing Withey will be key.

Now, a quick look at the four factors:

And now defensively:

Stylistically, the biggest thing will be to watch when Kansas is on offense and UNC is on defense. While the Heels don't defend at the rim well, they also don't send their opponents to the line at all, while the Jayhawks have gotten to the line all year, especially lately. On the other hand, UNC doesn't shoot many free throws at all, which is good news considering how important it is for Jeff Withey to stay in the game.

Kansas probably will turn it over their usual amount and North Carolina probably will barely turn it over, but at this point that is to be expected with this team. The key will be how the Heels shoot from three and if Kansas can get the ball inside as well as win the battle on the glass, especially when they're on defense.

I know I won't be looking forward to the Roy Williams circus (especially because I don't think many Kansas fans at all hold a grudge anymore) and I am certainly not looking forward to the three point barrage that could be coming.

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