College Basketball Game of the Week: UNC vs. Indiana
College basketball is in full swing and Wednesday night provides a can’t-miss matchup. No. 18 UNC will travel to No. 10 Indiana for the first time since 2016.
The last time these two teams matched up was November 30, 2016, which would make it exactly six years since they last played each other.
In the series history, Indiana holds a 9-6 record against the Tar Heels.
This matchup is the last and final matchup of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, so this could be crucial depending on which team leads this challenge come 9:15 Wednesday night.
The Hoosiers are 6-0 on the season and looking to stay undefeated. Not to mention, this is Indiana’s first home game as a top 10 team since the 2016-17 season, so Assembly Hall should be electric come game time.
After entering last week at No. 1, UNC is on a two-game losing streak. This makes it 5-2 heading into Wednesday night's game.
The Tar Heels dropped their first loss to Iowa State in a close 70-65 game.
Following that, UNC lost their second game of the season to No. 18 Alabama in a quadruple overtime matchup that ended in a two-point differential, 103-101. Alabama has now moved to No. 11, sending the Tar Heels to the No. 18 spot.
Both Indiana and UNC have star players who have been dealing with injuries over the past few games.
Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis missed a game last Wednesday due to a back issue and appeared to be struggling last Friday in its win against Jackson State.
UNC’s Armando Bacot suffered an ankle injury against Alabama on Sunday and whether he will play on Wednesday is still in question. Bacot claims he will try his hardest to play as he would never want to sit out in a big game like this.
Both players are key assets to their respective teams. Through seven games, Bacot is averaging 16.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and is shooting 56.7 percent from the field.
Jackson-Davis is averaging 18 points, 8 rebounds, and is shooting 76 percent from the field so far this season.
This tells us all we need to know about these two players, and with that being said it will be an entirely different ball game if these two aren’t able to compete at 100 percent or even at all.
However, the good news for the Tar Heels is that, even without Bacot, they still have powerhouse Caleb Love. He leads the team in points, assists, steals and three-balls. After UNC’s March Madness run last year, Love has proved he has what it takes to lead this team to victory.
The 6-foot-4 guard’s ability to get to the rim is impeccable, averaging 20 points per game so far this season. He scored his career-high of 34 points against the Crimson Tide.
Bacot and Love aren’t UNC’s only superstars. R.J. Davis, Leaky Black and Pete Nance are all dangerous weapons for this team. UNC is fully stacked and hungrym so it will be difficult for Indiana to pull off a win against them.
As for the Hoosiers, Jackson-Davis is accompanied by guards Xavier Johnson and freshman Jalen Hood-Schfino, as well as two upperclassmen forwards in Race Thompson and Miller Kopp.
In addition to their ideal starting five, Malik Reneau and Tamar Bates who are first off the bench, have been playing their part for the Hoosiers. They are the third and fourth leading scorers on the team, with Reneau averaging 10.7 points and Bates averaging 8.5 points.
Not only have the Hoosiers been able to score over 80 points in each game so far this season, but in four of their six games they have been able to hold their opponents to less than 60 points. The Indiana defense can hold its own and we will see what they are truly made of against a team like UNC who rarely struggles with scoring.
UNC’s head coach Hubert Davis and Indiana’s head coach Mike Woodson were both named head coaches within a week of each other in spring of 2021. Davis is 34-12 while Woodson is 27-14.
Both coaches were able to lead their teams to the NCAA tournament last year, but Davis had a more impressive run, leading the Tar Heels to the National Championship.
Indiana is averaging more points per game, less points allowed and has a higher field goal percentage than the Tar Heels. Indiana is favored to win by 80 percent but if there is one thing we know about UNC, it is never to be underestimated.
It is safe to say it won’t be easy for either of these teams as they both have their work cut out for them.
But for now, we are all patiently waiting for the showdown in Bloomington.
Gia Sabatino is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, please email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Gia Sabatino is a first-year student at Penn State. She is a Communications major in broadcast journalism. In her first semester she has become really involved with CommRadio in the sports department. She had been writing articles and getting good experience within the club by shadowing board ops and talk shows. She also completed her first play by play call for a JV Boys Soccer game at State College High School. She is looking forward to all the opportunities that CommRadio has to offer along with meeting new people and making more connections. Gia is getting adjusted to Penn State and learning how to manage her classes while being in a club so she is taking things one step at a time. She is interested in joining a sorority in the spring and looking at other communication clubs as well. Gia is from Phoenixville, PA which is outside of Philly and she attended Pope John Paul II High School. There she managed the basketball team and kept the score and book for varsity her junior and senior year. She is hoping to do something like this at Penn State in the future.