Preview & Prediction: By Raphielle Johnson
North Carolina (2-0) plays a tune-up before they make the flight to Maui for next week’s Maui Invitational, and given their depleted state you can excuse some folks for thinking of their last trip to Maui. That one, early in the 2004-05 season, began with a game against Santa Clara played without the services of Raymond Felton. The Broncos pulled off the upset, angering the Heels to the point that they blew away an overmatched field on the islands. With Tyler Hansbrough (stress reaction), Marcus Ginyard (stress fracture) and Tyler Zeller (broken wrist; out for the season) missing this one (Hansbrough wants to play, so we’ll see about his status), some could look at this as a possible upset opportunity.
But there’s one key difference between that last national title season and this one: these Heels have two games under their collective belts while the 04-05 version was playing their first game of the year. One of the nation’s best backcourts in Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and Danny Green will be on display, and forwards Deon Thompson and Ed Davis will carry the load inside. Carolina is also coming off of a solid defensive effort against Kentucky, a game in which the Tar Heels forced twenty-eight turnovers to offset their shooting 41.4% from the field.
UCSB (1-1), led by guard James Powell and forward Chris Devine, split its first two games of the season and would like to make this a half-court game. UCSB is coming off of a school-record 23 wins and was picked to finish second in the Big West behind Cal-State Northridge this year. But for as good as Powell and Devine have the potential to be, the guy to watch is point guard Justin Joyner. Joyner, who played with a broken bone in his left wrist for part of last season, is a tough floor general who will have to decisively win his individual matchup with Lawson if the Gauchos are to entertain any thoughts of winning this game.
Winner: North Carolina Margin: 20+
Preview & Prediction: By Blake Hofstad
We know about UNC. We know all
the stars. We know they are supposed to be this year's Florida. And Santa
Barbara is just the next team on the schedule. The Heels were not challenged
at all by Kentucky on Tuesday night. I won't say UCSB will provide a stiffer
test, but don't expect them to lie down and let Carolina bowl over them.
This is a team that knocked off UNLV last year (unfortunately, they were
victims of a 105-70 loss to North Carolina as well).
Let's start with the home team. The Gauchos of UCSB feature two big scorers. Chris Devine is a 6-8 forward who is their primary post option. James Powell is a 6-2 guard who shot 47% behind the arc last season, but is off to a cold start this season, only going 21%. He still does it all, getting 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists a game. The UCSB bench runs deep, as they rely on a lot of players to step up and give them points on any given night. One such player is D.J. Posley. Posley is fourth on the team in scoring, but leads the Gauchos in both assists and steals.
On to the number one team in the country. Tyler Hansbrough, Tyler Zeller and Marcus Ginyard are all out. If UNC is going to lose this season, someone has to take advantage of those injuries. Unfortunately, Santa Barbara is not that team. Even without those three, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, Deon Thompson, Ed Davis and Danny Green are great players in their own right. Ellington and Green are knockdown shooters, Lawson is a speedster who can dish, Ed Davis is a superfrosh who is picking up the rebounding slack while Hansbrough's out, and Thompson has really flourished this year, averaging better than 18 points a game.
Ultimately, the Tar Heels should roll over the Gauchos. UCSB just does not have the firepower to match up with the best in the country.
Winner: North Carolina Margin: 20+
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