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Five things: North Carolina

The ‘Noles travel to No. 17 North Carolina in need of a win

NCAA Basketball: Jumpman Invitational-Michigan at North Carolina Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Since there aren’t any other interesting sports this weekend, I’m sure Nole fans will be pumped to tune into a 2 PM hoops game in Chapel Hill.

1. Some good news occurred during FSU’s meltdown against Georgia (which, was the 2nd biggest collapse in all of college basketball this season). Jaylan Gainey – 2-time defensive player of the year in the Ivy League – finally saw some action. It’s been 685 days between games for him, so don’t feel bad if you were wondering who the heck No. 33 was when he took the court. He entered the game with FSU up 11-5, and then in a 5-second span altered a shot at the rim which allowed another Georgia player to grab the rebound, but Gainey swiped the ball out of his hands, and then seeing Darin Green streaking down the sideline, Gainey promptly through a long pass into the stands. So, shaking off the rust! UNC, you may recall, has 5th year senior Armando Bacot in the middle (16.7 ppg, 11.6 rpg), so any minutes Gainey can provide will be a boost.

2. The Heels are 5-1 on the season, with their loss coming in OT vs Villanova. They’ve beaten Arkansas and Tennessee and have the 5th best offense in the nation. FSU has no chance in this game, but if you’re looking for a reason to believe, UNC is coming off an emotional game against Tennessee where they almost blew a lead which had been safer than FSU’s vs Georgia, and they’re looking ahead to a Tuesday matchup with the defending champs Connecticut Huskies in Madison Square Garden. We’re the trap game in the middle.

3. After committing 17 2nd half fouls vs Georgia, FSU is now 338th nationally in allowing foul shots. UNC is 24th at getting there. If it plays out as expected, FSU may need some walk-ons just to have 5 players at the end of the game.

4. FSU last beat UNC in the ACC Tourney game with Scottie Barnes. Of course, the ‘Noles would proceed to lose the ACC Title the following night against Georgia Tech in what was the 2nd ever ACC championship game to not feature a team from North Carolina, but let’s let sleeping dogs lie. FSU lost to UNC in 2021 by 22, and last year by 11. Using that trend, does that mean overtime this year, where FSU has won a logic defying 14-straight games.

5. I think it’s clear by now that if FSU isn’t forcing a ton of live-ball turnovers, or their pressure defense isn’t – at minimum – causing offenses to delay their sets until late in the clock, then the ‘Noles are toast. This offense isn’t built to function at a high level in the half court, and the defense is at a massive disadvantage when teams are given the time and opportunity to switch to the matchup of their choice. In other words, we need hectic, ugly games. In hindsight, taking the air out of the ball with 6:00 left against Georgia and turning it into a half-court game was a major blunder, so hopefully this one will be a little more frenetic and chaotic. UNC is a bit below average taking care of the ball (190th). Godspeed.