Indiana and Carolina will face off in a very “sweet” matchup Friday night. Both teams are ranked in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom rankings, so it should be a high scoring affair.
Brice Johnson vs Indiana Big Men
Brice Johnson is
one of the most talented big men in the nation and Indiana will have a tall task with defending the best defensive rebounder in the ACC.
Indiana is a top 15 offensive rebounding team this year, but they have not been truly tested by big men this tournament facing Chattanooga and the carousel of inconsistent big men in Kentucky.
On defense though, Indiana is vulnerable inside the arc and this plays right into Carolina’s strengths. Indiana has given up the 14th most points inside in the nation and Carolina leads all Power Conference teams in percent of points inside the arc.
Indiana features two freshmen bigs in OG Anunoby and Thomas Bryant. Bryant is the team’s most talented big man, but he averages over five fouls per 40 minutes and Carolina draws a ton of fouls when they aggressively attack the basket. Carolina forced Providence’s two best players into foul trouble last game.
Carolina should have a major advantage inside and this starts with Brice Johnson continuing to play at an elite level.
Robert Johnson vs Carolina Guards
Robert Johnson was injured last game, but in his limited time, he helped hold Jamal Murray to his lowest scoring total since January 30th. Johnson is expected to be back this game and he is a very good defender. He will most likely be matched up on Marcus Paige for most of the game, leaving Yogi Ferrell to be matched up on Joel Berry. Ferrell just allowed Tyler Ulis to score 27 points, his second highest total all year.
A matchup with Yogi Ferrell could mean good things for Joel Berry and the Tar Heels. Berry’s average offensive rating on the year is 119, but in Carolina’s six losses, his average rating drops to 94. Carolina has only lost one game when Joel Berry scores over 10 points and that was on the road against Virginia.
Essentially, when Joel Berry plays well the Heels generally win, and if Robert Johnson guards Marcus Paige as expected, Berry will be in a good spot to perform well.
Indiana Three Point Shooters
Carolina has the distinct advantage inside, so Indiana will need to shoot well from deep if they want to pull off the upset. This is not out of the question for Indiana though. They rank fifth in the nation in three point percentage and they face a Carolina defense who has struggled at defending the three point line.
Indiana has five players with at least 50 attempts who shoot better than 40 percent from downtown. This attack is headed by senior guard Yogi Ferrell who averages 17 points and 5.6 assists per game. He leads this top ranked offense and Carolina will have to slow him down.
As previously mentioned, Robert Johnson is important on defense, but he is equally important on offense as he is the best three point shooter on the team. He only played 10 minutes against Kentucky and made one-third of Indiana’s total threes. Yogi Ferrell will help create most of the offense, but Johnson is a very good shooter who will punish the Heels if he is left open. If Robert Johnson is at full strength, Indiana will receive a major boost.
Carolina has faced one other team who shoots over 40 percent from the three on the year, Virginia. Carolina beat Virginia when they held them to just 33 percent from beyond the arc, but lost when they allowed the Cavaliers to shoot over 43 percent. This will be a very important matchup and a key for success for both teams.
Indiana is 1-2 vs ACC opponents this year with losses to Wake Forest and Duke (with Amile Jefferson) and a win against Notre Dame. Carolina is 3-2 against these same teams.
Three of Carolina’s five eligible losses (Louisville was banned from the tourney) are currently in the Sweet Sixteen. Northern Iowa and Texas are their other two losses.
Northern Iowa imploded and gave up 12 points in under a minute to lose their Sweet Sixteen bid and Texas lost to Northern Iowa in the first round on a buzzer beater.
Only two of Indiana’s seven losses, Duke and Wisconsin, are in the Sweet Sixteen.