James Michael McAdoo played one of his best games of the season on Saturday against Virginia Tech. ROBERT WILLETT
CHAPEL HILL — And welcome to game day, folks. North Carolina and Wake Forest will get going at the Smith Center in about five and a half hours.
Some things to know …
North Carolina (15-6, 5-3 ACC) vs. Wake Forest (10-11, 3-6)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Smith Center
Projected starting lineups
F Travis McKie 15 ppg, 7.9 rpg
F Devin Thomas 8.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg
G C.J. Harris 14.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg
G Codi Miller-McIntyre 8.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
G Madison Jones 3.8 ppg, 2 apg
F Desmond Hubert 1.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg
F James Michael McAdoo 15 ppg, 8.6 rpg
G Reggie Bullock 13.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg
G Dexter Strickland 8 ppg, 4 apg
G Marcus Paige 7.4 ppg, 4.5 apg
Player to watch
James Michael McAdoo, sophomore, North Carolina
McAdoo is coming off perhaps his best overall game of the season on Saturday, when he led UNC with 22 points and had 10 rebounds in the Tar Heels’ 72-60 overtime victory against Virginia Tech. It was the kind of performance that the Heels need to consistently receive from McAdoo, who will be tested tonight against Wake Forest forward Travis McKie. McAdoo is likely to spend some time guarding McKie, who can play inside and out. McKie has made five of his past nine 3-point attempts during the Demon Deacons’ past two games. McAdoo didn’t practice on Sunday after injuring his back on Saturday.
UNC is likely again to be without P.J. Hairston, whom coach Roy Williams described as “doubtful” for tonight. Hairston suffered a concussion last week at Boston College, and also exhibited flu-like symptoms on Sunday night, Williams said. … Williams said on Monday that many of his players had been battling sickness … The Demon Deacons do something Williams would like for his team to do: They shoot a lot of free throws. Wake Forest gets to the free throw line at a more frequent rate than any ACC team, and 23.6 percent of Wake’s points come from the line – the highest percentage in the ACC. … Defense, though, has not been the Demon Deacons’ strength. They allow opponents to shoot 45.6 percent, and each of their past three opponents have shot at least 51.9 percent.
--Wake Forest is just not a good defensive team. The Demon Deacons rank last in the ACC (302nd nationally) in field goal percentage defense (45.6 percent) and allow the third-most points per possession in the league. In other words, the Tar Heels should have an opportunity to put up a decent amount of points tonight, and UNC will need to take advantage of that.
--Can Marcus Paige build off what was perhaps the best game of his young collegiate career on Saturday? Paige scored a career-high 19 points, eight of which came in overtime to lead UNC to victory against Virginia Tech. It was a good game, and it’ll mean more in the long run if we can look back upon it as a turning point. This has been an up and down season for Paige, but what he did on Saturday should have gone a ways toward building some confidence. We’ll see if that translates into continued production.
--Wake Forest beat N.C. State not long ago and played Duke tough before losing last week. Pretty impressive, you say. And I agree. But the Demon Deacons have been wholly unimpressive on the road, where they’re 0-5 in conference play. All but one of those losses – a one-point loss at Virginia Tech on Jan. 19 – have basically been blowouts. The most recent of those was a 26-point loss at Maryland on Saturday. Does Wake have the pieces to challenge UNC? Sure. But based on how the Deacons have played outside of Winston-Salem, I wouldn’t bet on it tonight.
UNC has the edge in three out of the four. The Tar Heels have shot better, turned it over at a lesser rate and been the (much) stronger offensive rebounding team. Wake Forest has done a terrific job of getting to the free throw line.
See you at the Smith Center …