The No. 20 ranked UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (11-1) are travelling to take on the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels (9-3) in an important game that both teams direly want to win.
With New Years Eve right around the corner, you can expect players, coaches and even fans from either side to key in on this matchup. It’s the last chance for these young men to get a win in 2012 and end the year on a positive note.
Throw in the fact that these are two historic clubs with plenty of preseason expectations in 2012-13 and you have a recipe for an epic showdown.
Keep reading to find out where to watch, who to keep an eye on, a prediction on the outcome and much more.
When: Saturday, December 29 at 2 p.m. ET
Where: Dean E. Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Live Stream: ESPN3
Injury Report (via USA Today)
G Bryce Dejean-Jones, Head, QST
F Mike Moser, F, OUT
No injuries to report
UNLV Player to Watch: Anthony Bennett
Bennett has outplayed all of these highly touted first-year players and his unique skill set has been vital to UNLV’s success.
Over 12 games, Bennett is averaging 19.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 1.4 assists and hitting 55.7 percent from the field (plus connecting on 35.3 percent of his three-point attempts).
The young man has made a name for himself and his team, putting the Rebels on the map and boosting his personal NBA draft stock through the roof. If the team is going to get it done on Saturday, Bennett will need to be at his best.
UNC Player to Watch: James Michael McAdoo
McAdoo hasn’t emerged into the star the Tar Heels expected him to in 2012-13, but there’s still time for the sophomore big man to figure it all out.
He’s still the team’s leading scorer and rebounder (averaging 15.0 points and 8.3 boards), but those aren’t anywhere near the figures expected of the 6’9” PF this season.
As a whole, UNC has failed to live up to lofty expectations and finds itself in a bit of a hole with 2012 almost in the rearview mirror.
It’ll be interesting to see if the Tar Heels can turn it around, and we believe McAdoo will be a driving force behind any resurgence.
Prediction: UNLV 80, UNC 78
This should be a close one, but we’re giving the edge to the road team.
The Rebels are rolling right now and have been stopped one measly time in all of 2012. We believe that the team will take the win streak into the new year and continue to climb up the polls as March Madness draws nearer.
Don’t sleep on this game becoming a back-and-forth duel between Bennett and McAdoo in the final few minutes, with one exerting his will more than the other and winning it for their squad.