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Wofford set to host No. 8 North Carolina

Can the Terriers do the unthinkable again?

NCAA Basketball: Wofford at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

We all know what happened when Wofford and North Carolina faced off against each other last season. Wofford took down mighty No. 5 North Carolina in Chapel Hill for one of the season’s biggest upsets.

The No. 3 Tar Heels will look to exact revenge in Spartanburg against Fletcher Magee (22.1 PPG, 2.9 RPG) this season. It will be easier said than done for the Tar Heels, who will face a Wofford team that Head Coach Mike Young recently called the deepest team he has ever coached.

In the recent SoCon coaches and media polls, the Terriers were a consensus No. 2 pick, while Magee was selected as the league’s Player of the Year by the coaches. Meanwhile, North Carolina 6-8 senior forward Luke Maye (16.1 PPG, 10.1 RPG) was selected Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. Maye’s versatility can’t be questioned, as he shot 43.1% from three-point range last season.

Following a school-record 751 points and 148 three-point field goals last season, it must have seemed like a formality for league coaches upon selecting Magee Player of the Year.

The Terriers are far more than just Magee. The super senior’s teammates include the likes of Nathan Hoover (11.0 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.4 APG, 22 steals), Trevor Stumpe (10. 8 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 25 steals), Storm Murphy (6.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 135 assists, 30 steals), Ryan Larson (Cretin-Durham HS/St. Paul, MN) and Isaiah Bigelow (Ben L. Smith HS/Greensboro, N.C.) in the backcourt. The Terriers figure to be one of the deepest clubs in the Southern Conference this season.

Set to give the Terriers even more depth in the backcourt in 2018-19 are veteran returnees Donovan Theme-Love (1.8 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 63 assists) and Tray Hollowell (3.2 PPG, 0.9 RPG), a pair of young guards forced to find their way in what was a young lineup last season for the Terriers in 2017-18.

One of the advantages the Terriers will have in the backcourt is the ability to create matchup problems with the length of players like 6’7 Bigelow. Larson is ahead of the learning curve for a young player according to Young, and will see quality minutes from the outset this season. Larson was instrumental in helping Wofford get some wins in its trip to Portugal this past summer.

While the deep backcourt is in great shape, the depth in the frontcourt could very well be enough to put Young’s Terriers over the top in the SoCon. The centerpiece of that frontcourt will once again be Cameron Jackson (12.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 53 assists, 55 steals, 45 blocks, 60.1 FG%). With the depth added by Young and his staff, getting Jackson in foul trouble will no longer give opponents an edge.

Jackson, a 6’8 senior forward from Winchester, VA, put up quite a line in the win over the Tar Heels last season, posting 18 points, nine rebounds, six blocks, three assists and three steals last year’s upset win. Teaming with Jackson in the paint will be veteran Matthew Pegram (5.3 PPG, 3.1 RPG), but folks should also keep an eye on highly-touted newcomers Chavez Godwin (via College of Charleston) and freshman Messiah Jones.

Jones, who was rated the No. 1 forward in the state of Illinois, was committed to Drake before switching his commitment to Wofford following Medved’s move to Colorado State. It turned out to be a blessing for Young and the Terriers, who will now acquire the services of the three-star recruit Jones, and he comes into the SoCon as one of the most highly acclaimed recruits.

Goodwin, a 6’9, 225-lb sophomore, appeared in 35 games for the College of Charleston as a freshman during the 2016-17 season, averaging 2.3 PPG and 2.9 RPG in 9.8 minutes per game. He scored a season-high eight points on three occasions. Goodwin will add size and, most importantly, depth the the Terrier frontcourt.

Meanwhile, North Carolina comes into the matchup with something to prove, and Roy Williams’ club will have to do it in front of a small but rowdy Wofford fanbase.

What kind of talent has Williams surrounded Maye with this season? Forward Nassir Little is one of the newcomers to keep an eye on, as he was the No. 6 recruit in his class. The 6’6 forward from Orange Park, FL, figures to see plenty of court action Tuesday night against the Terriers. There’s a good chance that Little and Magee are familiar with each other, as the two talents for Wofford and North Carolina hail from the same area of the Sunshine State.

Two other frontcourt players expected to step up and give Maye support are 6’9 forward Garrison Brooks (4.5 PPG, 3.5 RPG) and 6’11 sophomore Sterling Manley (5.4 PPG, 3.6 RPG), who both hope to be more consistent for the Tar Heels this season.

Rechon Black and Coby White are other highly-touted newcomers from Williams’ latest recruiting class. Both will be eager to show what they can do in their first collegiate game Tuesday night at Jerry Richardson Indoor Stadium. White and junior guard Seventh Woods (1.1 PPG, 1.APG) will likely be the two starters for Williams in the backcourt; both will be candidates to replace Joel Berry at point guard.

Rounding out the team are Cameron Johnson (12.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.3 APG) and Kenny Williams (11.4 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.4 APG), who both return in starting roles.

Who Wins: This game will be close. But I just can’t imagine North Carolina losing two years in a row to the Terriers even though I think Wofford is a better team overall this season. Trust me, North Carolina will get tested in this one!

North Carolina 74, Wofford 68