North Carolina Tar Heels (22-7) vs. Murray State (24-6).
When: Friday, 9:40 p.m. ET
Where: Dayton, Ohio.
1. From Pine Time To Twine Time. It's 651.63 miles from the Dean E. Smith Center to the RCA Dome, but each 3-pointer from former walk-on benchwarmer Wes Miller draws the defending national champs 19 feet, 9 inches closer. Number 22 may be half the player Ol' 44 Larry Miller was, but everybody on The Hill knows where they can find Carolina's X-Factor come game time: right smack dab between the arcs. The James Madison transfer has made 67 shots this season. Of those 67 successful attempts, an Allan Ray-eye-popping 61 of those have been treys. That's right: Wes Miller — your sister's favorite scrapper — has made all of SIX two-point shots all season. He's gritty, he's gutty and he's got the long-range shot you wish you had in intramurals. Eat your heart out, Scott Cherry.
2. Eagle Scout. Heading into the ACC tourney, the Heels were hot, and members of the USA TODAY/ESPN coaches' Top 10 for the first time all season. Sure, mighty UConn was atop the heap with a whopping 30 No. 1 ballots, but there was one quiet holdout who refused to come Connecticut's way when it came time to rock the vote. Just who was that masked man? The coach who penetrated and pitched a precious No. 1 vote to 10th-ranked Carolina? Niagara's Joe Milhalich.
3. The Third Noel. Central Florida (RPI: 190) has sophomore Dave Noel. UNC-Wilmington (RPI: 27) showcases junior Dave Noel. But only North Carolina (RPI: 8) has senior Dave Noel. Not surprisingly, The Third Noel is fluent in French. "Noel," in fact, is French. But The Third Noel? The one who lives in The Triangle? He is not French. The Third Noel hails from Durham — yes, that Durham. He is a triple-threat athlete: a swingman and former wide receiver who threw out the first pitch for the Durham Bulls and their 2005 Triple-A season. The Third Noel is, as The Second would have it, the Third: David Noel III. He averaged three points in his third season in Chapel Hill. He wears No. third-y four and weighs two hundred third-y two pounds. He is the third option in Carolina's motion offense, just ahead of three-point specialist Wes Miller. Word to The Third Noel. — Brian Styers
1. They Think They're An Ivy League School. Murray State bills itself as "Kentucky s Public Ivy," which is a little like billing yourself as "World s Tallest Little Person." For a school that guarantees admission to any Kentucky graduating senior who scores an 18 composite on their ACT (SAT equivalent: A Vince Young-esque 870), well, let's just say Harvard isn t bumping Brown to make way for State anytime soon.
2. Their Black Guys Are Kind Of White. Distinguished Racer ballers include Hall of Famer Joe "Jumping Joe" Fulks and former fan favorite Ronald Jerome "Popeye" Jones. Fulks is credited as an early pioneer of the jumpshot, and once scored 63 points in an NBA game (before the advent of the shot clock, no less). Jones, on the other hand, counts NASCAR, golf and chess among his favorite off-court activities, making him one in what is undoubtedly a rather small coterie of black men who enjoy that particular combination of extracurriculars.
3. Not A Great Party Campus. The town of Murray, Kentucky, is located in Calloway County - one of 35 limited dry counties in the state (of Kentucky's remaining 85 counties, 55 are completely dry, and only 30 are wet.) Alcohol exemptions exist for the Murray Golf Course and for all restaurants in town that serve over 100 diners, but Bacchanalian Murray Staters looking to imbibe are often forced to cross the Tennessee border to purchase provisions — a move no doubt unpopular with S.A.D.D. — Neel Shah