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North Carolina v Virginia

by Sharon Thorsland

Fresh off their first win at Virginia in 12 years, 10th ranked North Carolina is back at home taking on Miami at the Dean Dome in a Monday night match-up. These teams just faced off 15 days ago, with UNC (21-6, 13-3 ACC) escaping Coral Gables with a 75-72 win. Since that game the Hurricanes (15-13, 6-11) have lost four straight and are in the midst of a six game skid. Tip-off is set for 7:00 on WBT.

It’s been a nightmare of a season for the Hurricanes, who were in the Final Four last season but have looked nothing like that team this year. They’ve been inconsistent, struggled on defense, and have been dealing with multiple injuries to key players. All five starters have missed time this season, including star guard Nijel Pack. He’s still dealing with a knee injury and is unlikely to play tonight. Pack had 20 points against UNC in the first matchup, so his presence is key for Miami. The Hurricanes still have Norchad Omier, though, and he’s tough to stop. The forward averages over 17 points per game and had 20 against the Tar Heels in Miami. Wooga Poplar is also an elite guard who can get hot from behind the arc but he’s been inconsistent recently, averaging just 10 points a game over the last 10 outings. There is some good news for the Hurricanes, as guard Matthew Cleveland is back from injury. He’s the team’s second leading scorer and averages over six rebounds a game.

Miami’s porous defense has also contributed to the losing skid, the Canes are ranked 207th in the nation allowing over 73 points a contest. They did play good defense against the Tar Heels in the first matchup, though, forcing UNC 16 turnovers which they turned into 22 points. But they couldn’t slow down RJ Davis, who will no doubt be looking to rebound tonight from an awful shooting performance against Virginia on Saturday when he went just 1-14 from the floor.

UNC has won six of the last eight games against the Hurricanes, but lost their last matchup in Chapel Hill.. And while the Hurricanes might be struggling,they are certainly capable of making life difficult for the Tar Heels and would love to play spoiler at the Dean Dome. But UNC seems to have found its footing again after back to back conference wins and should win this one easily. Go Tar Heels