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UNC vs. Indiana: Three things to watch

UNC players talk about challenges posed by Indiana in Sweet 16

University of North Carolina players Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and coach Roy Williams talk about Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and Thomas Bryant.
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University of North Carolina players Marcus Paige, Brice Johnson and coach Roy Williams talk about Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and Thomas Bryant.

No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 5 Indiana

NCAA tournament East Region

When: 9:57 p.m. Friday

Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Philadelphia

TV/Radio: TBS, WTKK-106.1

Projected starting lineups

Indiana (27-7)

G Yogi Ferrell 17.1 ppg, 5.6 apg

G Nick Zeisloft 6.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg

F Troy Williams 13 ppg, 5.9 rpg

F Collin Hartman 4.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg

C Thomas Bryant 11.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg

North Carolina (30-6)

G Joel Berry 12.8 ppg, 3.4 apg

G Marcus Paige 12 ppg, 3.7 apg

F Justin Jackson 12.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg

F Brice Johnson 16.8 ppg, 10.5 rpg

F Kennedy Meeks 9 ppg, 5.8 rpg

Three things to watch

1. How UNC guards the perimeter

Does 3-point field goal percentage defense mean a lot? Perhaps not. Marcus Paige, UNC’s senior guard, questioned its validity earlier this week. Nonetheless, the Tar Heels have allowed opponents to make more than 35 percent of their 3s, and Indiana is one of the nation’s best 3-point shooting teams. The key for UNC: limiting the Hoosiers’ looks. Yogi Ferrell, Robert Johnson and Nick Zeisloft all shoot a lot of 3s (they’ve all attempted at least 114 this season) and they’ve all made at least 41.9 percent of their attempts.

2. Battle in the backcourt

After they won the ACC championship game against Virginia, North Carolina’s Marcus Paige and Joel Berry spoke openly about how they’d been a bit overlooked when it came to being considered among the nation’s best backcourts. Paige and Berry were outstanding in the ACC tournament and they have to be at their best now, especially amid the challenge of facing Indiana’s guard-heavy team, led by Yogi Ferrell. He’s one of the best point guards in the country, but the Hoosiers have plenty of capable ball-handlers and shooters. Defensively, at least, Berry and Paige will be as challenged as they’ve been all season. Offensively, they have to do their part to match Indiana’s effective offense.

3. Whether the Tar Heels can turn it up in transition

If there’s one area where the Tar Heels have a clear statistical advantage, it’s probably in the category of turnovers. UNC hasn’t forced an especially large amount of them. The Tar Heels rank in the middle of the pack nationally, according to kenpom.com, in turnover rate. But taking care of the ball hasn’t exactly been among Indiana’s strengths. The Hoosiers rank 273rd nationally in turnover rate, and commit turnovers on almost one of every five of their possessions, according to kenpom. UNC thrives in transition, and those turnovers – if UNC forces them – could lead to prime scoring chances. UNC is 23-1 this season when it scores at least 10 fast break points.

Andrew Carter

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