Preview: North Carolina at Michigan
Fifth-ranked Michigan looks to stay unbeaten when it hosts No. 13 North Carolina in one of the marquee matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. The Wolverines have shot up the national rankings on the strength of their defense, holding five of their six opponents to 55 or fewer points, including then-No. 8 Villanova in a 73-46 road win on Nov. 14, and hope to cement their place in the Top 5 by shutting down a prolific Tar Heels’ offense which averages 96.6 points per game.
Michigan has won 15 consecutive non-conference home games and hopes to extend their streak while avenging an 86-71 road loss to North Carolina in the conference challenge last season. North Carolina bounced back from its first loss of the campaign with a 94-78 victory over UCLA in the consolation game of the Las Vegas Invitational. The Tar Heels, who opened the tournament with a 92-89 loss to No. 17 Texas before matching their season high with 11 3-pointers en route to a comfortable win over the Bruins, hope to notch their first signature win of the season by knocking off the Wolverines for the third consecutive time. “Michigan may be playing better basketball than anybody,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams told reporters. “Michigan is the number one defensive team in America.”
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (6-1): Coby White was named to the Las Vegas Invitational All-Tournament team after averaging 26 points, including a team-high 19 in the win against UCLA. Luke Maye added 16 points and eight assists while Kenny Williams scored a season-high 15 points, as five players finished in double figures for the Tar Heels. White was also named the ACC Freshman of the Week after averaging 22.6 points and four assists against Saint Francis, Texas and UCLA while point guard Seventh Woods is set to return to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a concussion.
ABOUT MICHIGAN (6-0): Canadian forward Ignas Brazdeikis continued the impressive start to his college career, scoring a team-high 20 points to go along with seven rebounds in an 83-55 win over Chattanooga on Friday. “I think he’s very coachable and he wants to be a great player,” Michigan coach John Beilein told reporters. “He is going to have a doozy of a matchup with Luke Maye that’s for sure as Maye just killed us last time.” Jordan Poole added 14 points and six rebounds while Isaiah Livers tallied 12 points in a reserve role as the Wolverines held the Mocs to 36.1 percent shooting from the floor.
1. Michigan leads the nation in scoring defense (48.3).
2. North Carolina is ranked third in offensive efficiency.
3. The Tar Heels are 10-5 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge under Williams.