Northwestern-North Carolina Preview
North Carolina's next opponent is coached by a man that is very familiar with one of the nation's most storied programs.
Northwestern is led by former Duke star Chris Collins, and he'll bring an unbeaten squad into Monday night's CBE Classic semifinal against the Tar Heels, who dropped to No. 9 from atop the poll in the wake of their first defeat.
Collins played at Duke from 1992-96 and served there for 13 seasons as Mike Krzyzewski's assistant. The second-year Wildcats coach is excited to see how his underdog 3-0 squad will fare against one of the favorites to win the national title.
"It's going to be pretty challenging," Collins said. "From firsthand experience, I know, I've had the opportunity to compete against that program for a lot of lot of years and I have nothing but amazing respect for Coach (Roy) Williams and everything that Carolina basketball stands for."
Williams' team has yet to play with star Marcus Paige, who averaged a team-high 14.1 points last season and is out because of a broken bone in his right hand.
Paige's absence was magnified in Saturday's stunning 71-67 loss at Northern Iowa - a game scheduled as a homecoming for the Iowa native. It turned into a nightmare as the Tar Heels (3-1) blew a 16-point lead in the second half.
''He's our best player offensively and defensively and as fine a young man as I've ever been around in my life, so I'd like to have him on the court,'' Williams said. ''But North Carolina still plays.''
Justin Jackson scored 25 points and was the only Tar Heels starter to get to the free-throw line.
Joel Berry, Paige's replacement, had five points on 2-of-7 shooting after averaging 15.0 points in the first three games. Nate Britt, who totaled 39 points in those contests, was held to four.
''Very disappointed in me, more so than my team. We acted like a team that had not been coached very well out there,'' Williams said.
Northwestern survived an upset bid by rallying from 12 down to win 83-80 in overtime over Columbia on Friday. Bryant McIntosh scored a career-high 32 points and senior guard Tre Demps added 22.
Demps went 9 of 19 from the field after a 7-of-25 effort and 24 points over his first two games.
"I thought Tre was back to being Tre tonight," Collins said. "Tre was putting a lot of pressure on himself the first two nights because he cares so much."
McIntosh is the Big Ten's leading scorer with 21.3 points per game. He's eager to test himself against the Tar Heels.
''They play a lot like Michigan State in the fact that they push the ball so much,'' McIntosh said. ''It'll give us great preparation for being in the league, and our younger guys can get a look at what it's like in that game."
North Carolina has taken three of four from Northwestern, winning 97-67 in the last matchup Nov. 29, 1978.
The winner will face Missouri or Kansas State in Tuesday's championship.