Previewing the quarterfinal between the Hurricanes and North Carolina:
Records: Miami (22-8, 11-7 ACC); North Carolina (23-9, 11-7).
When: 9 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y. (capacity: 19,000).
What’s at stake: Miami jumped off the bubble with its Feb. 27 win in Chapel Hill. UM is 1-3 against the RPI top 25. UNC, currently No. 5 in RPI, was its only win against that group. It lost to Virginia and Duke — two teams it could meet if it advances in Brooklyn — and at Clemson. A neutral-floor win over UNC wouldn’t be as impressive as taking one at the Dean Dome, but would solidify the Hurricanes’ status as one of the hotter teams in the country (four wins in a row, 7-3 in their last 10 without star guard Bruce Brown).
If they’re one-and-done in Brooklyn, they’ll be in the middle of the bracket. As of Thursday, ESPN, CBS Sports, Sports Illustrated and the Washington Post projected Miami as a No. 6 seed. The Athletic had UM as a No. 7.
UNC, which banked nonconference wins over RPI heavyweights Arkansas (30), Michigan (13), Ohio State (21) and Tennessee (9, on the road), also toppled Duke (4) and Clemson (11). With 11 quadrant 1 wins, the Tar Heels appear to be a 3-seed at worst, with a chance to move to the top line if they go on a run in Brooklyn.
Projection: ESPN’s BPI projects UNC as having a 76.1 percent chance to win.
Online: ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app. Must be an ESPN subscriber to access the stream (which is subject to blackout).
Radio: Joe Zagacki will call the game for 560 WQAM.
Last time out: Miami beat Virginia Tech 69-68 and has won four in a row by a combined eight points. UNC beat Syracuse 78-59 on Wednesday to advance to the ACC quarterfinals.
Series: UNC leads the all-time series 21-8, though Miami has won six of the last nine. Jim Larranaga is 6-5 against the Tar Heels as UM’s coach, winning three times in Chapel Hill. The teams split last year’s meetings. Miami won 77-62 in Coral Gables. UNC trounced UM 78-53 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
Rankings: UNC is No. 12 in the Associated Press poll. Miami is No. 24.
Ratings: UNC is eighth in KenPom.com’s efficiency ratings (fourth offense, 42nd defense). Miami is 35th (46th offense, 41st defense).
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0 — Ja’Quan Newton, G, Sr., 6-3, 191
4 – Lonnie Walker IV, G, Fr., 6-5, 204
3 – Anthony Lawrence II, F, Jr., 6-7, 210
20 – Dewan Huell, F, Soph., 6-11, 236
15 — Ebuka Izundu, C, Jr., 6-10, 235
2 — Joel Berry, G, Sr., 6-0, 195
24 — Kenny Williams, G, Jr., 6-4, 185
13 — Cameron Johnson, G, Sr., 6-87, 210
1 — Theo Pinson, F, Sr., 6-6, 220
32 — Luke Maye, F, Jr., 6-8, 240
Three things to watch
How tired will North Carolina be?
They only had to play one game, rather than two, but the Tar Heels aren’t a deep squad. Their five starters all surpassed the 30-minute mark against Syracuse; backup forward Garrison Brooks was next in usage, with eight minutes. Miami , meanwhile, has had two days to practice, and should have the depth advantage. Even without Bruce Brown, UM can go seven deep thanks to the emergence of guard Chris Lykes and forward Sam Waardenburg.
Can Miami’s D frustrate UNC?
The Heels struggled in the first half against Syracuse’s zone, shooting 38 percent. Thanks in large part to Pinson, they controlled the latter part of the first half onward. The senior forward had 16 points, 11 rebound and six assists, the latter a key in helping UNC open up a 21-point lead. The Hurricanes hope Berry, who dropped 31 on them in Chapel Hill, keeps stumbling. In his last two games (Syracuse, at Duke), he has made 5 of his last 20 field goals (2-14 from 3).
Will Miami’s backcourt come to play?
Newton tallied the last seven points for Miami in Chapel Hill, and was so hot that Jim Larranaga didn’t call timeout after Berry’s tying 3 with four seconds left — he just let Newton run the floor and launch one from 40 feet. The senior’s confidence is high, but he had five turnovers and two points in UM’s regular-season finale against Virginia Tech. Lykes was better, with 15 points and seven assists, and DJ Vasiljevic was hot from 3 (4-for-6, 16 points). UM will need all of them to show up.