North Carolina plays at Indiana on Wednesday night as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The Tar Heels are 9-8 in the Challenge, and 1-2 against Indiana. This will be UNC coach Roy Williams' 1,000th game as a college head coach.
Three things to watch between the Tar Heels and Hoosiers:
1. Which outstanding offensive rebounding team is better?
The Tar Heels rank second nationally, according to kenpom.com, in offensive rebounding percentage, and they've rebounded 46.6 percent of their missed shots. Indiana, meanwhile, ranks fourth nationally in offensive rebounding percentage. UNC faced another good offensive rebounding team in Wisconsin in the championship game of the Maui Invitational. In that game the Tar Heels limited the Badgers to just four offensive rebounds. A similarly dominant performance at Indiana would go a long way toward securing a victory for UNC.
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2. Does Indiana's James Blackmon Jr. play?
Through the Hoosiers' first four games Blackmon was a force, averaging 20.5 points, seven rebounds and 2.5 assists. He missed his team's victory against Mississippi Valley State on Sunday, though, and an undisclosed knee injury may keep him on the bench on Wednesday night. Blackmon, a 6-foot-4 guard, is Indiana's best player. Zach McRoberts, a redshirt sophomore walk-on, started in his place on Sunday. If Blackmon doesn't play, it'd be the second time in eight months that he'd miss a game against UNC. After undergoing knee surgery last January, he didn't play against UNC in an NCAA tournament regional semifinal last March.
3. How the Tar Heels handle the environment.
UNC has played five of its first seven games away from the Smith Center but its only true road games were at Tulane, in a sparsely-filled NBA arena, and at Hawaii. Hardly the kind of atmosphere that awaits at Indiana's Assembly Hall. It will be “a different animal,” UNC coach Roy Williams said, and that holds true in all aspects – the talent of the opposition, the intensity of the hostile environment. The Tar Heels trailed for all of 16 seconds during their three games in the Maui Invitational. If UNC falls behind at Indiana – Blackmon or no Blackmon – how will the Tar Heels handle the moment?
No. 3 UNC at No. 13 Indiana
When: 9 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.