|College Basketball Preview: Penn at North Carolina|
|Written by TheSpread|
|Wednesday, 03 January 2007 04:20|
Bettors and Tar Heels Expecting Blowout Tonight Against Pennsylvania
The second-ranked Tar Heels look for another blowout victory when they host Penn on Wednesday in their final nonconference home game of the season.
Oddsmakers have made North Carolina -23 point spread favorites
North Carolina (12-1) has won nine straight since its only loss, an 82-74 defeat to Gonzaga in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 22. The last six victories have come by at least 20 points, including an 81-51 rout of Dayton on Sunday.
The Tar Heels, who are 8-0 at home, have held their last five opponents under 37 percent shooting.
``They're working really hard in practice,'' North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. ``They're starting to take more pride in what they're doing defensively. Each and every day, they're understanding more what the defensive end of the floor can mean for them.
``When you're holding teams to (22 percent shooting) in the first half, you're going to be OK regardless of what you do on the offensive end.''
After allowing more than 80 points to four of their first six opponents, the Tar Heels haven't given up more than 69 in any of the last seven games and they've held the past four opponents to 52 or less.
``We're starting to realize our potential and understanding when we execute offensively and defensively what this team is capable of,'' sophomore Marcus Ginyard said. ``At the beginning of the year, people who were winning (the team's) defensive award were winning by nine, 10 or 11 good plays on defense. And now they're winning by two or three. It's really starting to show.''
The defensive improvement has come just in time with the Tar Heels heading into conference play, as 11 of the 12 teams in the ACC are averaging at least 73 points per game. North Carolina hosts Florida State in its conference opener on Sunday.
``We can definitely feel it,'' freshman Brandan Wright said. ``There's not a lot of teams in this country that have 10 or 12 guys like we have. So practice is real competitive and we take pride in stopping people on defense and not letting guys score on us.''
After opening the season 4-2, Penn has won two of its last five games. The Quakers (6-5) have played only twice since Dec. 9, beating Illinois-Chicago 90-78 on Dec. 21, then losing 94-85 to Seton Hall two days later.
Penn has rebounded from slow starts the past two seasons to win the Ivy League title. The Quakers started 6-5 last year before going 12-2 in the conference. In 2004-05, Penn was 4-7 but went 13-1 to win the league.
The Quakers have lost 18 straight to ranked teams, including a 78-60 defeat to then-No. 20 Syracuse on Nov. 11. Penn is 36-32 against ACC schools.
North Carolina leads the all-time series 3-2, but the teams haven't met since the Tar Heels won 113-82 in the first round of the 1987 NCAA tournament. This is the first meeting in Chapel Hill and the first regularly scheduled game between the teams since 1948. The other four matchups came in tournaments.
by: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us
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