Coaches: Mike Young (217-193, 14th year at Wofford); Roy Williams (752-202, 28th year/334-101, 13th year at UNC)
Last Time They Met: Jan. 14, 1926 (North Carolina 41, Wofford 23)
Series: North Carolina leads 2-0
Player To Watch (Wofford): G--Spencer Collins
Player To Watch (North Carolina): F--Kennedy Meeks (16.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG)
Records: Wofford (0-1, 0-0 SoCon); No.1 North Carolina (2-0, 0-0 ACC)A Look at the Terriers:
College basketball season continues at a furious pace this week, as two-time defending Southern Conference champion Wofford heads to No. 1 North Carolina, as the Terriers go from an SEC foe to an ACC foe in their first two games of the season.
The Terriers opened the season last Friday night at Missouri, dropping an 83-74 decision in Columbia to the Tigers, while the top ranked Tar Heels have yet to be tested with big wins over both Fairfield (92-65) and Temple (91-67), showing everyone why the Tar Heels started the season as the nation's top-ranked club.
Wofford and North Carolina will be meeting on the hardwood for the first time in 90 years, with the last time the two met being Jan. 14, 1926, with the Tar Heels posting a 41-23 win.
The Terriers, who have won the past couple of Southern Conference titles, have a lot to replace this season, losing their top two players from last season, with the graduation of both guard Karl Cochran and forward Lee Skinner. Skinner was the Southern Conference MVP, while Cochran led the Terriers in every major offensive and defensive category last season.
The Terriers have some newcomers that should be adequate replacements for the 2015-16 season, and one of those to show up in the stats sheet in the opener against Mizzou was sharp-shooting guard Fletcher Magee, who was outstanding in his first season for the Terriers, completing the contest with a team-leading 22 points, which included going 6-for-11 from the field and 5-of-9 from three-point range in the contest. Magee was also a perfect 5-for-5 from the stripe in the contest.
Magee has a chance to be the next great shooter for the Terriers, and though Wofford loses a great perimeter threat and athlete in Cochran, Magee is the future for head coach Mike Young and could turn out to be one of the top freshman players in the SoCon this season.
Magee's team-leading 22 points came off the bench for the Terriers. The Terriers will remain a threat in the Southern Conference this season primarily because of the experience Wofford returns in its backcourt this season, which includes senior Spencer Collins, juniors Eric Garcia and Jaylen Allen.
That was the starting trio that Young opted to go with in the opener for Wofford. Collins, a preseason All-SoCon selection and leading returning scorer, is a player to keep an eye on this season, and I think he is one of the best five players in the SoCon.
Collins got his season off to a solid start last Friday night, posting 10 points, however, struggled shooting the basketball from the field, but found other ways to score, including getting to the charity stripe.
The Easley, S.C., native went just 2-for-11 from the field and was 0-for-6 from three-point land, however, did go 6-of-10 from the line. He also dished out a team-leading four assists to go with a steal and a pair of boards. Collins logged a team-leading 38 minutes in the season-opening loss.
Garcia, who hails from Aurora, Colorado, made some big shots down the stretch for Wofford last season, including one in the Southern Conference title game, which extended the Terriers' lead from two points to five points inside the final two minutes of last season's narrow, 67-64, Southern Conference title game win over Furman in Asheville.
The heady point guard completed his season opener of his junior season by contributing 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-8 from long range. Garcia also dished out three assists and grabbed three boards in his 33 minutes of court action in the season opener last Friday night.
I felt like Allen was the player that needed to step up and be a factor for the Terriers this season, and the Johnson City, TN native came into the season as one of the team's top perimeter threats.
In the 2014-15 season, the Christ School product saw some solid action off the bench in all 35 games last season, scoring a season-high 12 points on a pair of occasions, including in the season-ending loss to Arkansas. In fact, Allen bookended the season with 12-point scoring performances, as he opened the campaign with 12 points in a hard-fought road loss at Stanford.
Allen saw just 11 minutes of action in the opener, but did start the contest against the Tigers, contributing three points on 1-of-5 from the field and 1-for-3 from long-range.
The two players slated to start underneath the basket once again this season are 6-7 senior Justin Gordon and 6-9 junior C.J. Neumann. Gordon was strong in the season opener for the Terriers, posting 19 points, six rebounds and two assists in what was an outstanding start to his final season in Spartanburg.
Gordon is one of the most athletic players in the Southern Conference, and he will be a key force to be reckoned with in the paint when the Terriers open up Southern Conference play. One of the keys for Gordon this season will be keeping himself out of foul trouble, as the Terriers are not deep in the front court. His 19 points in the season opener came on 6-for-11 from the field, including 6-of-8 from the line and 1-of-1 from three-point land. Gordon logged 31 minutes of court action in the season opener.
Neumann rounds out what should be the starting five once again for the Terriers on Wednesday night,, and Neumann is a player that is not relied upon for his scoring, but the 6-9 center is more of a role player and will be in the lineup primarily to be a menace on the backboards. In the opener at Mizzou, Neumann posted two points, five boards and an assist in 31 minutes of game action.
Other than Magee, the only Terrier to log double-digit minutes off the bench in the opener for Young's Terriers was forward Matthew Pegram, who posted four points and a pair of boards.
The Terriers are only likely going to utilize a seven-eight man rotation this season, with Magee, Pegram and Derrick Brooks likely to see the most minutes off the bench, putting pressure on the normally physical Terriers to somehow stay out of foul trouble.
Young has built a dynasty at Wofford, and with trips to the NCAA Tournament in four out of the past six seasons, including winning seasons in five of the past six, the Terriers will find ways to be successful, whether it be on the defensive end, or equalizing for they lack in depth by shooting the ball well from the perimeter.
In the opening season loss at Mizzou, the Terriers finished the night shooting just 38.2% (21-for-55) from three-point land and 37.0% (10-of-27), while connecting on an uncharacteristically low 66.7% (22-for-33) from the charity stripe. The Terriers won't be in awe of the environment Wednesday night, as Young's Terriers made a trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium last season to battle eventual national champion Duke. The Terriers
A Look at the Tar Heels:
Judging from the first couple of games this season, the Tar Heels are going to be as good as advertised this season, as the Tar Heels easily downed both Fairfield and Temple in easy fashion.
The Heels came into the nation as the top ranked team primarily as a result of what might be the top guard in college basketball within their arsenal, in Marcus Paige. Paige is a dynamic guard, though he has yet to see any game action this season due to a minor hand injury suffered in the preseason. Paige has connected on 180 triples over the past two seasons, connecting 39.2% from three-point range over the past couple of seasons.
The senior guard comes off a season in which he averaged 14.1 PPG and 2.5 APG last season. He will likely also miss Wednesday night's game against the Terriers.
The Tar Heels haven't missed much of a beat without him though, with Joel Berry II (14.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG) handling the point guard duties with Paige's injury. Berry, a 6-0, sophomore guard from Apopka, FL, posted 14 points in the opener against Temple, while adding 15 points in the latest outing against Fairfield on Sunday.
Berry is a player that will be a perimeter threat that the Terriers must be aware of at all times on Wednesday night, having connected on 5-of-10 three-point attempts through his first two games. Berry averaged just 4.2 PPG last season in 13.2 MPG last season.
Berry has been teaming with 6-6 guard Theo Pinson (9.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG) in the backcourt, who could be a potential matchup problem, as he will have the ability to go underneath and post-up the smaller Spencer Collins.
Pinson is athletic and a slashing type player, and also possesses the ability to step out and shoot from long range. Pinson is coming off an 11-point effort in the win over Fairfield, while posting seven points in the opener against Temple. In the win over Fairfield the last time out, Pinson connected on 2-of-5 shots from the field, including going 1-for-3 three-point land in the contest.
The Tar Heels are deep in the backcourt, too. Head coach Roy Williams has the luxury of being able to bring a guard like Nate Britt (16.0 PPG, 3.0 APG) off the bench, who would be a starter at a majority of the schools in the nation, however, he just happens to be a member of one of the most talented backcourts in the country.
Britt, who is a product of the prestigious Oak Hill Academy, is a 6-1 guard that has played some of his best games against the biggest of opponents, including a career-high 17-point effort last season in a game against Syracuse last season.
Britt has already matched that career-high this season, posting 17 points in the Tar Heels' last outing against Fairfield. Britt has connected on a team-high seven triples through the first two games and is shooting a blistering 70% so far from beyond the arc in the first two games.
The biggest concern for Mike Young and his Terriers, however, is the sheer size and depth of the Tar Heels' bigs. Kennedy Meeks (16.5 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 65.0%), Brice Johnson (16.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG), Justin Jackson (7.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG) and Isaiah Hicks (7.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG) are a quartet of forwards that will all see quality minutes. Keeping the Tar Heels off the glass is something neither of their first two foes could manage to do, with the Tar Heels out-rebounding each of its first two opponents.
Meeks is one of the best bigs in the ACC, and a player that has landed on numerous preseason All-America teams to start the season. Meeks is a 6-8, 265-lb forward that comes off a 2014-15 season which saw him average 11.4 PPG and 7.4 RPG. He is as active as any player in the nation on the offensive glass, and was among the ACC leaders in field goal percentage, connecting on 56.2% of his shots from the field last season.
In the win over Temple in the opener, Meeks was unstoppable, posting 25 points, 11 rebounds and blocked three shots to give credence to those lofty individual preseason accolades. In the win over Fairfield, Meeks was able to post eight points and grabbed 12 boards.
Johnson might be the best athlete on the squad, and he has had an outstanding start to the 2015-16 season, opening with a pair of double-doubles to start the season. He posted 16 points and 10 boards in the opener against Temple, while finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds last time out against Fairfield. Like Meeks, Johnson posted one of the top field goal percentages in the ACC last season, connecting on a team-best 56.6% from the field last season.
Jackson, a 6-8, 193-lb sophomore native of Tomball, TX, will join Meeks and Johnson underneath as the starting trio. Jackson isn't the consistent a scorer as the aforementioned two, but he is athleticism and ability to keep the ball alive on the offensive glass will be a big key for North Carolina this season.
However, despite not being quite the offensive threat as Meeks or Johnson, Jackson still managed to average in double figures last season, posting 10.7 PPG. After scoring just four points in the opener in the win over Temple, Jackson responded the last time out by posting 11 points and a block the last time out. He is also a player that can step out and hit from the perimeter.
Through the first couple of games this season, the Tar Heels are shooting 50.4% as a team and average 91.5 PPG. The Terriers and Tar Heels are two opposing philosophies to how to win basketball games, with Roy Williams relying on transition basketball dictated by his point guards, and bigs that run the floor, while Mike Young-coached squads favor a half-court, defensive minded game.
Matchup To Watch:
Keep an eye on the Wofford bigs against the Tar Heel starting trio of Meeks, Johnson and Jackson. Neumann and Gordon are going to be stretched on the defensive end with all three having the potential to step out and shoot from long-range, but more importantly, the energy level will be expended much more on the defensive end for the Terrier duo for the simple fact that the Terriers are not very deep in the frontcourt.
Did You Know:
The Terriers faced three Sweet 16 Teams and the eventual national champion last, with a schedule that ranked 26th toughest in the nation last season.
Since taking over as the head coach in 2002, Mike Young has become the eighth most successful coach in Southern Conference history and the longtime assistant of the legendary Richard Johnson, who is now the program's Director of Athletics, before taking the full-time job some 16 years ago.
Young has 217 wins, including some of the school's biggest, which have come against power five conferences. The Terriers have posted wins over Purdue, Xavier, N.C. State, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Cincinnati, Georgia and Auburn just to name a few in his illustrious career.
North Carolina did lose to College of Charleston back in the 2010 season, as Andrew Goudelock's three-pointer capped a memorable comeback from 11 points down and tied the game at the end of regulation, 72-72, allowing the Cougars to score a memorable 82-79 overtime win over the ninth-ranked team in the nation at the brand new TD Bank Arena in Charleston--the new home of the Cougars. Goudelock finished the contest with 24 points, including scoring the Cougars' final eight points of regulation to force overtime. The Tar Heels also lost to College of Charleston and Davidson at the Harris Teeter Tournament of Champions.
This game might be close for awhile, but even if Wofford still had Skinner and Cochran, keeping this game in single digits like the Terriers did at Mizzou would be considered a major accomplishment for the Terriers.
North Carolina 82, Wofford 58