3 UNC Tar Heels on Thin Ice Before Showdown vs. Duke

These Tar Heels need to step up on Saturday against the Blue Devils
Elliot Cadeau shot just 1-of-9 from the field in the first game against Duke
Elliot Cadeau shot just 1-of-9 from the field in the first game against Duke / Scott Kinser-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Cormac Ryan

The senior guard is a solid role player, though I fear the Blue Devils will hunt him defensively as he's been piling up the fouls recently. He's committed at least four fouls in four of his last seven games. Duke ranks just 146th nationally in free throw rate (34%), so attacking Cormac Ryan to get to the foul and force the Tar Heels to dip into their bench is a sound strategy.

Jeremy Roach is on fire and will race around the perimeter and through the paint, while Tyrese Proctor and Jared McCain are difficult to guard as well. If Ryan gets into foul trouble early, it could be a big issue for North Carolina.

His ability to spread the floor provides a huge benefit to the Tar Heels' offense, but it's notable that he struggles in their losses. If his shot isn't falling, he can become a liability overall.

Ryan shot 3-of-13 in the loss to Georgia Tech, 1-of-10 against Clemson and 6-of-14 against Syracuse. Even in the narrow win over Miami that required Davis heroics, Ryan shot 3-of-13.

As one of the key cogs for North Carolina's team and one of the most experienced players on the roster, we may know if the Tar Heels can win purely based on how Ryan starts. If he's on fire early in the game and avoiding fouls, North Carolina faithful can be confident in the Tar Heels' chances.

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