The UNC basketball program looks to get back on the winning track, as they take on Alabama in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational.
As we know, the hopes for a UNC basketball undefeated season are all gone.
Of course, it was a long shot to happen either way, but now the Tar Heels look to turn the page and get back on track.
They don’t have much time to dwell on their first loss of the season, as they’ll take on No. 18 ranked Alabama in the third-place game of the Phil Knight Invitational.
The question remains: how will this group respond to this adversity?
With them set to drop from the No. 1 ranking this week, maybe some of the pressure will be taken off this group. It’s quite possible that the loss to Iowa State serves as a much-needed wake-up call for a very talented team that hasn’t fully played up to its capability levels.
Can the Tar Heels earn a victory on Sunday and leave Portland, Oregon on a positive note? It’s possible, but it definitely won’t be an easy task.
Key to Victory for North Carolina
Alabama is a very good rebounding team, which shouldn’t be a surprise at all given the size that their starting unit possesses.
Other than guard Mark Sears (who is listed at 6-foot-1), all of the Crimson Tide’s starters are 6-foot-4 or above. To add to this, their frontcourt features a trio of players 6-foot-9 or above, as they definitely have a size advantage against most teams in the country.
However, the Tar Heels also have some good size, as Armando Bacot and Pete Nance are both big presences down low. In this game, it can’t just be a Bacot rebounding show: it must be a group effort to attack the boards on both ends of the floor.
North Carolina can not get out-rebounded in this one. It’s plain and simple. They must control the boards, or it may be a long afternoon for them trying to keep up with Alabama’s length.
Something to Watch For
Alabama is a very young team. They start two freshmen, two sophomores, and a junior, and their bench, which goes essentially four-to-five deep, also showcases some additional underclassmen.
North Carolina is the complete opposite, as the majority of their rotation players are upperclassmen.
Can the UNC basketball program take advantage of its experience? In a close game down the stretch, the Tar Heels will need its veteran leaders to step up to get the job done.
The last time these two teams squared off was in 2019 as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in Paradise Islands,…