The third-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels hit the road for the first time in 42 days, as they invade Tallahassee to take on the Florida State Seminoles in ACC action at the Tucker Center this afternoon.
Roy Williams' Tar Heels have certainly enjoyed some home cooking, playing nine straight games at home, last playing a game outside of Chapel Hill on December 3rd at Kentucky. The team has won every game since that one-point loss in Lexington (73-72), including a pair of lopsided wins over Boston College (83-60) and Miami-Florida (73-56) to open up the ACC slate.
Leonard Hamilton's Seminoles were supposed to factor into the ACC race this season, but there have been a few bumps in the road thus far, as FSU is sporting a modest 10-6 overall record. Florida State opened conference play with a couple of road games, losing at Clemson (79-59) before topping Virginia Tech (63-59) in Blacksburg this week.
North Carolina has dominated this series, with wins in 42 of the previous 52 matchups. UNC has won 12 of the last 14 meetings and has won five straight in Tallahassee.
The Tar Heels are loaded this season and the result is one of the most explosive offensive teams in the nation at a hefty 86.9 ppg. Despite the strong presence at the offensive end, UNC has played well defensively also and sports an impressive +21.1 scoring margin. In addition, the team outrebounds foes by 12 boards per game, while forcing nearly 15 turnovers on average. It all starts down low with the nation's premier frontcourt trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Tyler Zeller. All three have the ability to take over a game. Barnes can score from anywhere on the floor and paces the team with 16.9 ppg. Henson is a terror in the paint, averaging a double-double with 14.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game. Zeller bolsters the play around the basket, with 14.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Guards Dexter Strickland (8.1 ppg) and Kendall Marshall (5.8 ppg, 9.9 apg) round out the starting five. Zeller and Henson both posted double-doubles in the win over the Hurricanes. Zeller finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Henson added 11 points and 14 boards. Strickland added 14 points and Marshall tacked on 12, while dishing out eight assists.
Florida State is first and foremost a defensive-minded squad and would be best served to concentrate at that end of the floor in this contest. Opponents have managed just 61.7 ppg this year and are being held to a meager .360 shooting, including just .268 from three-point range. Ian Miller has played in just five games, but his return to the lineup cannot be minimized, as he is averaging a team-best 14.0 ppg coming off the bench. Michael Snaer is a viable scoring option as well at nearly 13 points per game (12.9). Bernard James is a dangerous frontcourt performer, averaging 10.2 ppg, while ranking among the conference's top rebounders at 9.1 rpg. James carried the Seminoles to victory over Virginia Tech last time out, tying his career-high with 18 points, while setting a new standard with 15 rebounds. Miller was involved in the win as well, tallying 15 points for the 'Noles.