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UNC-LSU Preview: How One Big Toe Could Turn This into a Nail-Biter

ATLANTA - MARCH 13:  Ty Lawson #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels sits on the bench with an injured right toe during day two against the Virginia Tech Hokies in the 2009 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament on March 13, 2009 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The ACC and SEC BlogSenior Analyst IMarch 21, 2009

North Carolina will get its first test of the Tournament and it could come without ACC Player of the Year Ty Lawson. The junior point guard will be a game time decision according to UNC coach Roy Williams for the second round tussle with the SEC regular season champs LSU.



Season Records:
UNC 29-4, LSU 27-7

Conference:
UNC 13-3, LSU 13-3

vs RPI Top 50:
UNC 5-2, LSU 2-3

 

Keys to the Game

1. Lawson's Health

The Tar Heels offense with Lawson runs like a Porsche. Without him it runs more like your standard sedan—solid, but not at the highest level of performance. If Lawson can't go, then senior Bobby Frasor will step in. Frasor is an adequate point guard, but if he doesn't have the speed to run UNC's offense like Lawson. The Tar Heels depend on that speed to get easy buckets.



2. Rebounding

Both of these teams are used to controlling the boards and getting their share of offensive rebounds. UNC gets about 15 a game while LSU snags 13.5 off their own missed shots. UNC was out rebounded by FSU in their last loss.



3. Shooting

Poor shooting doomed LSU in their last three losses hitting less than 37 percent in each game. In Carolina's four losses they have not hit more than 39 percent of their shots from the floor. Many think since UNC allows a lot of points that other teams shoot the ball well, but the Tar Heels are holding opponents to 41 percent.

 

Prediction

This game will come down to Lawson's effectiveness, if he even plays. If he does and is effective I think North Carolina puts LSU away in the final five minutes. If he does not play then LSU has the athleticism and size to give North Carolina fits for 40 minutes. The thought that UNC could win even if he does not play puts UNC over the hump in my book.

Pick: North Carolina Wins By 5-11 points


Season: 40-29 SU through 3/20

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