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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: North Carolina Tar Heels

Let’s see if we remember how to preview a non-conference opponent.....

Miami v North Carolina Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Name: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Founded: Chartered in 1789, just a few weeks after North Carolina was officially admitted into the United States, UNC did not actually enroll any students until 1795.

That’s a long time ago. Yep. The flagship of the University of North Carolina system is so old, it is one of three universities that stake a claim to being the oldest public university in the United States along with the University of Georgia and the College of William and Mary. However, Georgia didn’t admit students until 1801, and while William & Mary was founded by royal order in 1693, it did not become a public university until 1906.

It’s Not Just An Old School: UNC is also a very distinguished school. It is considered to be a Public Ivy, an unofficial moniker assigned to a university that gives their students a learning environment on par with the schools in the Ivy League. The last time anyone assigned a Public Ivy title to anyone was back in 2001, and UNC was one of 30 schools to earn that distinction. However, when it was first created back in 1985, UNC was one of just eight universities to have that honor.

Real Big Fans Of Running Water: The legend of The Old Well is that a sip from the fountain will confer good grades for the coming semester. It’s so much of a campus tradition that there actually ends up being a line to get some of that potentially magical H2O.

Speaking Of Waiting In Line: Apparently signing your name on a Morehead-Patterson Bell Tower brick is such a big deal for pending graduates that if you don’t time it right, you have to stand in line to climb the 128 steps. This isn’t a long standing tradition at UNC, as it’s “only” been going since 2003.

Enrollment: 30,101, with 19,117 undergraduate students.

Nickname: Tar Heels

Why “Tar Heels”? Because North Carolina is not only the Old North State, but also the Tar Heel State.

Okay, smartass. Why is North Carolina The Tar Heel State? Back in the 1700 and 1800s, North Carolina was known for the production of various materials derived from the large quantity of pine trees in the state. For whatever reason, “Tar Heel” was a nickname assigned to the people who were working to produce the tar and pitch from the rosin of the pine trees. Honestly, it’s pretty similar to why Wisconsin is the Badger State.

Notable Alumni: Christine Blasey Ford, professor of psychology at Palo Alto University; James K. Polk, the 11th President of the United States; comedian Lewis Black; actor Billy Crudup; William R. King, the 13th Vice President of the United States; J. Frank Harrison III, the CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling; Michael Piller, co-creator of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine; ESPN anchor Stuart Scott; 1998 Nobel Prize winner Robert F. Furchgott; actress Louise Fletcher, best known for her Academy Award winning role as Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest; boxing play-by-play man Jim Lampley; David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool; television icon Andy Griffith; Jason Kildare, CEO of WarnerMedia; voice acting legend Nolan North; Caleb Bradshaw, the inventor of Pepsi-Cola; actor Nick Searcy, best known to me for his role as Art Mullen on Justified; John Skipper, current chairman of DAZN and former president of ESPN; director Peyton Reed, best known for his work helming Ant-Man; Cincinnati broadcasting legend Marty Brennaman; Adam Reed, best known as the creator of the FX series Archer; baseball writer & ESPN personality Peter Gammons; Academy Award winning writer and comedian Jim Rash; CBS Sunday Morning fixture Charles Kuralt; more athletes than you can shake a stick at, and finally, former FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive Walter Lee Williams.

This university has EVERYTHING: Dan Cortese is an alumnus.

This Season: 14-7, 8-5 in the ACC.

Current 2020-21 KenPom.com Ranking: #28

Current 2020-21 T-Rank Ranking: #40

Stats Leaders

Points: Armando Bacot, 11.8/game
Rebounds: Day’Ron Sharpe, 7.9/game
Assists: Caleb Love, 3.6/game

Bigs? Ohhhhhhhh yeah. Armando Bacot (6’10”, 240 lbs.) has started every game this season, while Garrison Brooks (6’10”, 240 lbs.) has started all but the three that Day’Ron Sharpe (6’11”, 265 lbs.) started. Brooks is the slacker of the three, as he does not have either of his two rebounding rates in the top 70. He’s “only” top 400 in both. Bacot is #65 in offensive rebounding rate per KenPom.com and #93 on the defensive end. Sharpe, though..... hooboy. Marquette is in a lot of trouble when he gets on the floor, as he is literally the best offensive rebounder in the country in terms of rate. The freshman from Greenville played less than 20 minutes in each of UNC’s last three games, but went for 7, 8, and 11 rebounds.

There’s also Walker Kessler (7’1”, 245 lbs.) who has played at least a little bit in every game this season for the Tar Heels, and does the 6’8” Leaky Black count? If not, I just wanted to talk about Leaky Black.

Shooters? As a team? God no. North Carolina ranks #266 in the country in three-point shooting percentage, knocking down just 31.6% of their attempts. That’s bad. The good news, if you’re a Tar Heels fan, is that they don’t shoot threes. UNC is nearly dead damn last in the country in three-point attempt rate, so they know what they’re good at (having lots of tall guys who are good at inside shooting and rebounding) and what they’re not good at (long range bombs), and they go about their business in accordance with that.

With that said, Marquette can not under any circumstances let Kerwin Walton shoot a three-ball. He leads the team in attempts at more than four per game, and the 6’5” freshman from Minnesota is draining 47% of them. Of the three guys on the team with more than 50 attempts on the season, Walton is the only one shooting over 30%. Caleb Love and R.J. Davis can do whatever they want until they hit two in a row, but Walton can not be allowed anything resembling a quality open look at the rim from long range. Heck, I’d prefer it if he didn’t take any bad contested looks. Better safe than sorry.

Head Coach: Roy Williams, in his 18th season at North Carolina and 33rd overall as a head coach. I don’t think we talk about the fact that Roy Williams has only been the head coach for two Division 1 programs in his career, and he QUIT THE KANSAS JOB AFTER HIS FOURTH FINAL FOUR IN THIRTEEN SEASONS to take the North Carolina job. Anyway, Williams is 899-260 in his career and 481-159 just at UNC. Oh, that’s fun, beating Marquette would be his 900th career victory.

All-Time Series: Marquette is 1-4 all time against North Carolina. The series started with a 67-59 Marquette victory on March 28th, 1977 (hey, I know that game), but it’s been all Tar Heels since. This will be the first time that the two sides have met when North Carolina is not ranked in the top 10 in the Associated Press poll. The most recent meeting came in the 2011 NCAA tournament, and UNC took the 81-63 victory in the Sweet 16.