2016-17 Season Analytical Writings

This Is It; The Main Event

There is no question that when it comes to the Blue Bloods of College Basketball, North Carolina and Kentucky are in that very small, elite group. Each of their programs have demonstrated success over the last many decades, since the late 1940's for the Cats and at least since the 1950s for the Tar Heels. Whenever these two programs collide, whether in the regular season or in the post season, all fans of college basketball revel in the prospects that the matchup provides. These programs first played in 1924 and again in 1929, with UNC winning both of the pre-Rupp games. When Coach Rupp arrived, they met in 1932, after which the series took a length hiatus with only one meeting, in 1950, until the teams resumed regular games in 1960.

They played 15 times in 1950 and between 1960 and 1977, with UNC winning 9 of those matchups. From 1977 to 1990, the teams met 4 times (1982, 1990, 1991, and 1995) with the Tar Heels winning all four times. From 2001 through 2015, there were 15 games, with the Cats winning 8, and since Coach Calipari appeared on the scene, the Cats have won 4 of 6 times these teams have appeared together. UK leads 8-6 in games played in Lexington, and UNC holds a 6-2 advantage for games played in Chapel Hill. UNC holds a commanding 22-8 advantage in games played at neutral locations.

These great, proud programs will face off again on Saturday, this time in the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas, and based on how these teams have opened their 2016-17 seasons in preparation for this encounter, this should be a great game between two of the best teams in the nation this season. A was of the Blue Bloods, pitting Kentucky's Big Blue against Carolina's Sky Blue. UNC enters the game with a 10-1 overall record (9-1 against D1 opponents) while the Cats come to Las Vegas sporting a 9-1 record. North Carolina's only loss came at #14 Indiana by 9 points while the Cats' only loss occurred at Rupp Arena at the hands of #10 UCLA by 5 points. The Cats' most impressive win this season was over #42 Michigan State by 21, but the pole-axing the Cats handed to #88 Arizona State by 46 points provides a credible footnote to the overall record. North Carolina's most impressive win was over #8 Wisconsin by 15, but their 2 point win over #76 Tennessee last Sunday also provides a cautionary footnote to the Tar Heels overall record.

North Carolina enters this game with an ANE of 0.306 points per possession against a strength of schedule of 0.0502 ppp. The Cats enter this game with an ANE of 0.319 ppp against a strength of schedule of -0.0057 ppp. The ANE analysis indicates a UK win by 1 point, 80-79 at a pace of 79 possessions. This would produce game efficiencies of 1.009 ppp and 0.997 ppp. Pomeroy sees this game in UK's favor by 1 point, 83-82 at a pace of 79 possessions.

Use the following link to see how other UK fans handicap this game at 247Sports, The Cats Pause message board:

You can participate in the score prediction contest at 247Sports at the following link:

Game Summary:

Coach Calipari starts Edrice (BAM) Adebayo, De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Isaiah Briscoe, and Wenyen Gabriel.

Kentucky controls the opening tip and Malik Monk hits a jump shot from 18 feet to score first. However, UNC converts 3 offensive rebound to move on top of the Cats 4-2, and then 6-5 with a Malik Monk 3 pointer in between. Monk's second 3 pointer of the segment ties the score at 10-10, but a UNC basket on a foul lifts the Tar Heels on top 12-10 at the under 16 media timeout, and UNC will have the free throw after the timeout. Meeks missed the free throw, and Edrice (BAM) Adebayo scores to tie the score. On the next possession, Meeks commits his second foul. Malik Monk's third 3 pointer of the game lifts the Cats to a 17-12 lead. The Cats finish the segment with a close basket by Isaac Humphries on an assist by Malik Monk, and a layup by Malik Monk to lead by 4 at the under 12 media timeout, 21-19. Malik Monk has 15 of the Cats' 21 points on 6-8 shooting and three 3 pointers.

In the third segment, there are a pair of technical fouls. The first on Kentucky's Dominique Hawkins for a flagrant foul, and the second on the UNC bench in protest of a foul call under the Kentucky basket. The Cats use the segment to build a 10 point lead, 36-26, at the under 8 media timeout. In the fourth segment, UK extends their lead to 12 points, 38-26, but following Edrice (BAM) Adebayo's second foul, UNC trimmed the 12 point UK lead to 6 points, 47-41 at the under 4 media timeout. The Cats lead by 5 at the half, 56-51.

The Cats scored 56 points on 40 possessions, 1.400 points per possession, and NORTH CAROLINA managed their 51 points on 39 possessions, 1.208 ppp. The Cats made 53.7% (22-41) of their first half shots, including 5-11 (45.5%) from outside the arc. NORTH CAROLINA managed to make 53.1% (17-32) of their first half shots, including 3-7 (42.9%) from outside the arc.

The Cats made 7-11 free throws (63.6%) and NORTH CAROLINA made 14-19 (73.7%) in the first half.

The Cats committed 4 turnovers while forcing NORTH CAROLINA to commit 4.

On the Boards, the Cats outrebounded the Tar 19-18 in the first half, and Kentucky won the offensive glass 8-5. However, UNC was more productive in their second chance possessions, outscoring the Cats 10-5 on second chance points. The Cats secured 38.1% of their misses and allowed NORTH CAROLINA to grab 31.3% of their misses as second chance opportunities.

Second Half:

North Carolina opens the second half, but fail to score. The Cats extend their lead to 8 points on a 3 pointer by Isaiah Briscoe. The teams traded baskets for the opening segment, and the Cats lead by 6, 67-61, at the under 16 media timeout with 15:13 remaining, and UNC in possession as Edrice (BAM) Adebayo commits his third foul at the end of the segment. At the under 12 media timeout, UNC has trimmed the lead to only 2 points, 74-72, and the Cats are in possession. In the third segment, the Cats rebuild their lead to 10 points, 84-74 before a 3 pointer by UNC stops a mini-run by the Cats and pulls the Tar Heels to within 7, 84-77, at the under 8 media timeout with 7:03 remaining in the game. In the fourth segment, UNC refuses to go away, trimming the UK lead to only 2 points, 93-91, and when Edrice (BAM) Adebayo fouls out with 3:09, at the under 4 media timeout, UNC will have a pair of free throws to again trim the lead to a pair of points from the 95-91 score at the media timeout.

Berry makes both, and after a rebounding foul by Isaac Humphries, UNC has a pair of free throws to tie the score at 95-95 with 2:51 remaining. The Tar Heels fail to take advantage of a pair of UK turnovers, but gets the ball back with 1:46 remaining and the score holding at 95-95. After each team makes a 3 pointer, UNC gets fouled on a basket, but fail to convert the free throw. Nevertheless, UNC grabs the offensive rebound, but fail to score. Malik Monk makes another 3 pointer to give the Cats a 1 point lead. When UNC fails to score, the Cats get the rebound, and UNC fouls De'Aaron Fox with 1.9 seconds remaining. De'Aaron Fox made both. UNC gets the ball in bound near mid court where they call an immediate timeout with 1.4 seconds remaining. On the in bound play, De'Aaron Fox intercepts the ball, but falls out of bounds in front of the UNC bench with 0.7 seconds remaining. The Cats win by 3, 103-100.


UK scored its 103 points on 77 possessions (1.338 ppp) for the game, and NORTH CAROLINA scored its 100 points on 77 possessions (1,299 ppp).

Kentucky won the battle of the boards 39-35, and Kentucky won the battle of the offensive glass 15-10. Kentucky used its 15 second chance possessions to score 8 second chance points, and NORTH CAROLINA used its 10 second chance possessions to score 18 second chance points. NORTH CAROLINA had an offensive efficiency of 1.065 ppp on its 77 first chance possessions and 1.800 ppp for its 10 second chance possessions. UK had 1.234 ppp on its 77 first chance possessions and 0.533 ppp on its 15 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed 37.5% of its misses as offensive rebounds while NORTH CAROLINA was able to convert 29.4% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.

UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 13-21 [61.9%]. NORTH CAROLINA made 21-28 [75.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 40-74 overall [54.1%] and 10-18 from long range [55.6%]. For NORTH CAROLINA , their field goal shooting from inside the arc was 26-49 [53.1%] and from long range, NORTH CAROLINA hit 9-17 [52.9%].

The Cats committed 10 turnovers, one for every 7.7 possessions. The Cats forced 9 NORTH CAROLINA turnovers, one for every 8.6 possessions.

This game had everything. Two of the blue bloods of the game, each with one of the strongest teams in the Country this season. These teams stood toe to toe like a pair of heavy weight champion boxers, slugging each other for 40 minutes. Many of the punches delivered by the Cats came from the offensive performance of Malik Monk. His 47 points are the most ever by a freshman at UK. It is the 6th most points ever scored in a game by a Wildcat, falling behind Jodie Meeks, Dan Issel, Cliff Hagan, and Bob Burrow. Here is Monk's shot chart for this game.

Next Game On Schedule: Wednesday evening at Louisville in the twelfth regular season game of the 2016-17 season.

Submitted by Richard Cheeks

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