Three things to watch on Wednesday at the Smith Center:
1. The Tar Heels’ response, and start.
UNC was on the other side of a classic – again – on Saturday in Las Vegas against Kentucky. That 103-100 defeat will be remembered for a while. But now the question becomes how the Tar Heels handle the anguish? Do they have a short memory? Or does the disappointment linger?
2. Whether Isaiah Hicks can break out of a funk.
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The Kentucky game seemed tailor-made for a breakout performance for Hicks, who entered Saturday with a favorable match-up against what appeared to be a weakness for the Wildcats. Didn’t work out that way, though, and Hicks, hampered by foul trouble throughout, finished with 10 points in only 15 minutes. Hicks has had his moments this season but coach Roy Williams is demanding more consistency – and more everything, really.
3. Changing speeds.
The pace of a game can never be quick enough for Williams. Outside of the result, that had to be one thing he appreciated about Saturday – the up and down, fast, free-flowing nature of his team’s game against Kentucky. And now comes a reversal against Northern Iowa, which did a good job of keeping the game at its preferred pace when these teams met last season. The Panthers rank 341st nationally adjusted tempo, according to kenpom.com. UNC will have to find a way to speed up the game.
UNC (10-2) vs. Northern Iowa (5-5)
When: 8 p.m.
Where: Smith Center
TV/Radio: ESPN 2/106.1