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A First Look At UNC

What have we learned in the post-season?

Duke v North Carolina
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - FEBRUARY 05: Wendell Moore Jr. #0 of the Duke Blue Devils drives against Brady Manek #45 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the first half of their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on February 05, 2022 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

We may or may not do our normal preview for UNC in the Final Four. We may do it in stages instead.

So for today, let’s look at their last loss, to Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament. What jumps out?

Well this: the Hokies hit 9-20 on threes while UNC was just 3-26.

The Hokies won 72-59. Incidentally, Armando Bacot hit 9-10 from the floor as UNC shot 36.7 percent, hitting 22 shots.

Obviously Bacot hit the majority of those. Brady Manek hit 4-10 and no threes for 10 points.

In Cameron, Bacot hit 10-11 and Manek hit 5 threes.

And in the post-season?

UNC obliterated Marquette. Bacot shot 6-13 for 17 points while Manek hit 10-15 for 28. They combined for 21 rebounds.

The Baylor game was obviously quite different. Bacot was 4-10 for 15 and Manik 8-13 and 4-8 for 28 before getting tossed. You can basically bifurcate that game into before and after he was ejected. UNC was rolling prior to that and as soon as it happened, Baylor mounted a huge comeback that barely fell short.

UCLA was also a tight game with UNC winning 73-66. Bacot was 6-10 for 14 and had 15 boards while Manek was 5-13 and 3-10 for 13.

And against Saint Peter’s Bacot shot 8-15 and grabbed 22 boards while Manek was 7-11 and 4-6 for 19 with eight rebounds.

So to combine the bigs and sum them up:

  • Duke: 43 points, 18 rebounds.
  • Virginia Tech: 29 points, 15 rebounds
  • Marquette: 45 points, 21 rebounds
  • Baylor: 41 points, 21 rebounds
  • UCLA: 27 points, 23 rebounds
  • Saint Peter’s: 39 points, 30 rebounds

Going back a bit further, Pitt limited Bacot to seven points and Manek to 12, including 1-7 on threes.

What UNC is doing, and doing very well, is using Manek and also RJ Davis (we’ll get to Caleb Love in a minute) to open the court with three point shooting which obviously benefits Bacot tremendously. He’s had a remarkable year and we’re not knocking him when we say this, but he owes a lot of that to Manek, because you can’t leave that guy alone.

Davis of course has come on late in the season and has gotten a lot of praise for his confidence.

And Love?

Love is interesting. In the NCAA, he has shot 30-62 which works out to 48.3 percent. Not too bad right?

However, if you take out the UCLA game, where he shot 11-24, it’s 13-38 for 34.2 percent. And he’s been shooting a lot.

Against Marquette, Love was 6-13 on three point attempts. Against Baylor, 1-4. Against UCLA, 6-13. And against Saint Peter’s 2-10.

Tote it up and he’s 15-40.

What’s striking is how much he sometimes shoots which is not typical for UNC which, for 60 years, has preferred a balanced approach. He’s hitting 37.1 percent overall and also on threes. We’d be really curious to see how his shooting lines up with Manek’s.

In other words, we’d love to know how much Love shoots when Manek is struggling, in general and in the flow of a game. Does he try to make it up personally?

Love is a really confusing figure. He’s clearly talented yet even Bacot at one point said we live or die with his shooting, and at times, it’s not that good.

But when the game is on the line, he tends to be really good.

Easier said than done, but we’d be curious to see what would happen to Bacot’s efficiency if you could limit Manek’s three point shooting and put the pressure on Love.

Back to Bacot for a minute.

Let’s go back to the Clemson game on February 8th and look at how he’s shot since then.

  • 2/8 vs. Clemson: 8-10
  • 2/12 vs. Florida State: 7-9
  • 2/16 vs. Pitt: 2-6
  • 2/19 vs. Virginia Tech: 4-7
  • 2/21 vs. Louisville: 6-8
  • 2/26 vs. NC State: 11-13
  • 2/28 vs. Syracuse: 5-12
  • 3/5 vs. Duke: 10-11
  • 3/10 vs. Virginia: 5-12
  • 3/11 vs. Virginia Tech: 9-10
  • 3/17 vs. Marquette: 6-13
  • 3/19 vs. Baylor: 4-10
  • 3/25 vs. UCLA: 6-10
  • 3/27 vs. Saint Peter’s: 8-15

He’s 24-48 in the post-season. Nothing wrong with 50 percent but considering where he shoots from, it’s less than we would have thought.