Carolina Basketball Monday Tipoff: Now, It Gets Real

Brant Wilkerson-New

Welcome to the Monday Tipoff, where we’ll catch up on the weekend and take a look at what's ahead for the Tar Heels and around the ACC and nation.

Expect this column to grow over the next several weeks with observations, analysis and all of the best plays and silliest moments in college hoops.

Looking Back

Carolina 75, Elon 61

Armando Bacot played well and the Tar Heels found a rhythm in the second half, using their defense to get out and run, but that's about the only good that came from what was supposed to be a blowout victory.

Roy Williams wasn't pleased as Carolina got off to another slow start amid silly turnovers and poor defense. We'll find out on Wednesday whether it was the type of wake-up call they needed before heading to the Bahamas.

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Looking Ahead

Wednesday, vs. Alabama, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN or ESPN2)
KenPom prediction: Win, 81 percent

Playing at the nation's second fastest tempo, the Crimson Tide (2-2) might be the cure for Carolina's transition woes as they tip off in the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Alabama has some talent in Kira Lewis and John Petty, but it's still trying to figure things out under first-year coach Nate Oats. They'll look to run and get 3-point attempts up, but poor shooting and turnovers have been the issue in losses to Penn and Rhode Island.

The Tide certainly has the talent to knock off big-time opponents when it puts it all together.

Thursday, vs. Iowa State or Michigan

Friday, vs. TBD

Player to Watch

It appears Brandon Robinson is set to return this week, and it couldn't come at a better time for a Carolina team that is still looking to establish its identity as the Tar Heels have struggled with consistency on offense and haven't forced turnovers on defense.

Robinson will provide an instant boost on the perimeter with his shooting, opening up the floor for Cole Anthony to penetrate and giving Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot space to work. With Robinson on the floor, Carolina will have no worries about the defensive effort it's getting from the senior.

Around the ACC

Shane Battier was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame, along with Lute Olsen, Rick Majerus, Homer Drew, Calbert Chaney and Larry Johnson.

Official Roger Ayers worked 20 straight days to start the season. Looks like some folks will be getting nice Christmas gifts.

Jordan Siff built a rating system that analyzes recruiting from a different perspective. 

Former Virginia guard Kyle Guy was called up by the Sacramento Kings.

The Pitino has spoken.

Syracuse's Elijah Hughes almost killed a guy.

ACC Viewing Guide

Monday
Virginia Tech vs. No. 3 Michigan State, 5 p.m. (ESPN2)
Mike Young's Hokies are off to a 5-0 start and get a big opportunity in their first trip to the Maui Invitational.
Pitt at Kansas State, 6 p.m. (FS1)
Arkansas at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m. (ACC Network)

Tuesday
Stephen F. Austin at No. 1 Duke, 9 p.m. (RSN)

Wednesday
Oklahoma State vs. Syracuse, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Thursday
N.C. State vs. No. 16 Memphis, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Wolfpack needs this one for its NCAA Tournament resume and could take advantage of the James Wiseman-less Tigers.
Wake Forest vs. Charleston, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN News)

Friday
Winthrop at Duke, 7 p.m. (ACC Network)
No. 20 Tennessee vs. Florida State, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Around the Nation

Jon Rothstein is in mid-season form. We sleep in May.

It's Feast Week! All kinds of good stuff from ESPN's John Gasaway.

A breakdown of all the big tournaments this week is included here.

Memphis rolled out some beautiful throwbacks for their win over Ole Miss.

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Memphis needs to make this look permanent.Justin Ford | USA TODAY Sports

National Viewing Guide

Wednesday
No. 11 Oregon vs. No. 13 Seton Hall, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
The best game of the first day of the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Tar Heels could run into one of these teams on Friday in Nassau.

Thursday
No. 6 Maryland vs. Temple, 11 a.m. (ESPN2)
No. 12 Texas Tech vs. Iowa, 8 p.m. (FS1)

Friday
No. 21 VCU vs. Purdue, 9:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
No. 15 Utah State at Saint Mary's, 11:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Late-night hoops between two of the nation's best mid-majors? Heck yeah.

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Meet a Mid-Major

Liberty (8-0)

Returning nearly everyone from a team that went 29-7 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Flames are projected to run away with the Atlantic Sun.

They're off to a hot start behind a balanced lineup that features eight players averaging better than 13 minutes.

Guards Darius McGhee (11.3 points) and Caleb Homesley (11.2 points, 5 rebounds) lead the way, while forward Scottie James (10.3 points and 9.1 rebounds) gives Liberty a big presence inside.

After a stint as associate head coach at Virginia, Ritchie McKay's team plays at a pace similar to that of the Cavaliers and excels at forcing tough shots.

Liberty visits Vanderbilt on Dec. 14 and could very well be 13-0 when it gets a shot at LSU on Dec. 29. The Flames could very well be a Top 25 team soon and will certainly be a popular upset pick in March. 

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