#ACCTourney Championship High Five: The Keys to the 2013 ACC Title
by Charlie Sallwasser: theACC.com contributor
ACC Championship Sunday should be a show, with a confident, balanced Miami team taking on a resurgent North Carolina team that has won eight of their last nine games, proving the old adage that it's important to peak at the right time.
The Hurricanes came out strong early today -- they never trailed -- and did a great job keeping their lead at double digits for most of the last 30 minutes. They got great efforts from Durand Scott (who put up 32 after scoring 15 total in his two previous outings) and Shane Larkin, and controlled the glass. North Carolina will be a different animal. To win, the Hurricanes will need to...
1.) Play the game at their tempo.
Miami's more comfortable in a midtempo game (63.8 possessions per game this season in ACC play), so you can assume that the Hurricanes are having problems if the possession count approaches 70 (North Carolina averaged 69.2).
2.) Use their strength on the glass.
The trio of Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Kenny Kadji have led Miami to the ACC lead in defensive rebounding percentage. With North Carolina going small (moving P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup over Desmond Hubert), they should be able to control both backboards.
3.) Get contributions from more than two guys.
Hurricanes not named Shane Larkin or Durand Scott shot seven of 24 against NC State today and scored only 26 points. Kenny Kadji and Trey McKinney-Joiner combined to make two of 14 shots and miss all seven three point tries, and their primary reserve duo of Rion Brown and Reggie Johnson went 1-6. It's doubtful that Larkin and Scott will be able to top (or even match) today's performance, so others (particularly Kadji) will need to be heard from more frequently.
4.) Don't over-help.
With North Carolina's offense thriving on ball movement, it's easy to get caught out of position -- something that has become even easier with a fourth able ball-handler and shooter in the lineup. This Tar Heel team is built to make double teams pay, so they should be deployed with discretion.
5.) Shake off the atmosphere.
The Greensboro Coliseum crowd will be largely pro-North Carolina, but a hostile crowd shouldn't phase this Miami group, who beat NC State today and won at NC State and played Duke tight at Cameron Indoor during the regular season. Shane Larkin has poise beyond his years at the point, and the team feeds off of him and senior Durand Scott.
North Carolina had to repeatedly repel the best efforts of a Maryland team fighting for their postseason, but they managed, and in doing so advanced to their third straight ACC Championship Game. To avoid a third straight loss, they'll need to...
1.) Run, run run.
It's no secret that North Carolina prefers to operate against a defense that hasn't gotten set, and the longer that they have to operate against Miami's gnarly defense (0.93 points per possession allowed), the less likely they'll be to find a good shot. Miami does turn it over (17.2% of possessions in league play, 7th in the ACC), so they will have some opportunities to run out for easy baskets.
2.) Keep James Michael McAdoo out of foul trouble.
McAdoo wasn't terribly foul-prone during the season (only 2.3 per game in 29.7 minutes per contest), so it's come as somewhat of a surprise that he's committed nine fouls in two ACC Tournament games -- foul trouble that has limited him to just 21.5 minutes per game. UNC can't match up with Miami's trio of bigs without him on the court.
3.) Share the ball.
The Tar Heels logged the best assist percentage (59.7%) in the ACC this season. Miami opponents assisted their baskets at the third lowest rate (46.3%). Dexter Strickland and Reggie Bullock join Marcus Paige as adept distributors, so Miami will have to worry about more than the Heels' freshman point.
4.) Keep the threes coming
Miami limits ACC opponents to 32% from the three point line, but UNC has shot 36.8% in conference games, starts four players that have that kind of range, and are 17 of 43 in their two ACC Tournament games.
5.) Marcus Paige must stand up to Shane Larkin
Paige has been coming on strong of late, but Larkin wasted no time establishing himself as one of the best point guards in the ACC during his freshman campaign. Paige won't even need to match Larkin -- he just needs to play a good game.