Welcome to another edition of College Pride Press’s Game of the Week. This week’s GOTW is a Sweet 16 rematch in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge when the #3 North Carolina Tar Heels head to Bloomington to take on the #13 Indiana Hoosiers. Considering the history of these two elite programs, their previous encounter, and the monster lineup each team has, this really could be one of the most exciting games this season. After Indiana fell short to UNC 101-86 in the Regional Semifinal and then UNC got their hearts stepped on by Nova, both of these two teams have a very solid shot at breaking their 3-way tie with Duke at 5 national championships.
Roy Williams and his guys certainly came back this season hungry, riding high with 7-0 record and honestly looking better than both #1 Kentucky and #2 Villanova. They’ve been beating teams by an average margin of 24.4 points, including their most recent victory over #17 Wisconsin 71-56, all of which has bumped them up to take Indiana’s spot in the rankings. Meanwhile, the former #3 Hoosiers (4-1) dropped down ten spots following a close OT upset loss to Fort Wayne 71-68. Still, IU’s OT victory over Kansas 103-99 is considered to be the most impressive victory of this season.
This game features the nation’s two most talented front courts. Thomas Bryant possesses the sensational athleticism to intimidate in the post at 6’10 while consistently hitting shots from the mid to long range. He’s joined by fellow sophomore star OG Anunoby, as well as senior Collin Hartman and freshman De’Ron Davis. North Carolina’s big senior duo Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are helped by 6’10 freshman Tony Bradley, and they’re all putting up very solid numbers. North Carolina caught a stroke of luck in that James Blackmon Jr.’s minutes will likely be limited this game after coming off of a knee injury. He has been lights-out with 20.5 ppg on 52.7% shooting, but chances are, his ability to change the game will be more limited. However, UNC being the away team in this game puts them at a much bigger disadvantage than usual. Indiana’s home court advantage is one of the biggest things a team could have going in their favor. There’s a reason Assembly Hall was voted the hardest place to play in the Big 10. It’s going to be near-deafening, never mind the fact that Hoosier fans are looking to exact their revenge after getting knocked out of the tournament by them.
The fact is that this game is going to be a close, fast-paced shootout. Both the Hoosiers and the Tar Heels have been notably good at shooting 3’s this season at 39.8% and 39.2%, respectively. Indiana is averaging 4 more turnovers per game than UNC at 18 topg, which is something that Joel Berry II could exploit in a big way. The Hoosiers are still going to be draining from behind the arc with the help of Bryant, Anunoby, JBJ, and Robert Johnson, but expect a lot of responses buckets from Berry, Justin Jackson and company. This game is really going to come down to who wants it more, but Indiana is more than capable of coming in clutch against another top-tier talent like the Tar Heels.
Game Info: Wednesday, Nov. 30th 9:15 pm EST on ESPN
Prediction: #3 North Carolina 87 #13 Indiana 89