The defending national champions go west this week, as No. 9 North Carolina begins a four-game West Coast swing Monday at Stanford. It’s the final tune-up for both teams before the PK80 Invitational on Thursday in Portland, Ore.
The Tar Heels haven’t been challenged too much in their first two games, cruising past Northern Iowa (86-69) and Bucknell (93-81). It’s the beginning of a tough stretch for the Cardinal, who will face No. 8 Florida in their first game of the PK80 Invitational. Stanford hasn’t been impressive thus far, losing to Eastern Washington and having some difficulty putting away Pacific and Northeastern. North Carolina has won all 10 previous meetings, most recently in the 2002 Preseason NIT.
TV: 11:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA (2-0): The Tar Heels have five players averaging double-digit scoring with big man Luke Maye (23 points, 9.5 rebounds) leading the charge. Freshman forward Sterling Manley (12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds) has made a big impact off the bench, and swingman Theo Pinson (11 points, 5.5 assists) is off to a good start. After missing the opener with a broken bone in his hand, senior guard Joel Berry II scored eight points and dished out six assists against Bucknell.
ABOUT STANFORD (3-1): The Cardinal start three freshmen to go along with an experienced roster that returned 78.4 percent of its scoring from a year ago. Stanford is led by a strong frontcourt, as Reid Travis (21.3 points, 6.8 rebounds) and Michael Humphrey (12.8 points, 12.3 rebounds) are putting up huge numbers. Freshman guard Isaac White (11 points) matched Humphrey for the team lead with 17 points against Northeastern and is 10-of-21 from 3-point range.
1. Maye is the first Tar Heels player to score 20 or more points in the first two games of the season since Tyler Hansbrough in 2006-07.
2. North Carolina has won its last nine games against Pac-12 opponents dating to 2005.
3. Stanford was 0-8 against ranked opponents last season.
PREDICTION: North Carolina 85, Stanford 74