ACC in the NCAAs: Scouting North Carolina vs.VermontPosted by KCarpenter on March 16th, 2012
Wednesday’s victory over Lamar was perhaps the best win of Vermont‘s season, excepting a nice overtime victory over Old Dominion on the road. Vermont is a solid team. They aren’t extraordinary at anything and they aren’t terrible at anything. While Stony Brook technically edged Vermont for the America East Conference regular season title, the Catamounts’ victory in the conference tourney gives them a strong claim as the class of the conference. Yet, when push comes to shove, being the best in this conference just doesn’t mean much. Out of the 32 conferences, the America East Conference ranks 29th by Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. I say this not to disparage the conference or Vermont, but just to make a simple point: Vermont is outclassed by North Carolina.
That doesn’t mean the Catamounts don’t stand a chance or can’t win; it just means that they might play great and still lose. Vermont has some real talent on its roster and Brian Voelkel is a very intriguing and unique player. The fourth tallest starter, Voelkel is also the team’s principal playmaker, averaging a team-high 5.2 APG while also grabbing a team-high 8.7 RPG. Yet despite this versatile charm, Voelkel isn’t a scorer. Vermont does have a few of those, however, including Four McGlynn, a freshman guard who takes 30% of his team’s shots when he is on the floor and makes them at a very high clip (39.3% from three).
Yet despite these strengths, Vermont will struggle on the offensive end. The Catamounts have struggled against quality defenses in losing to USF and St. Louis. They simply haven’t beaten a team with a defense this good. More importantly, they have yet to play a team that scores as effectively as North Carolina. Iona is the best offense that Vermont has faced and though the Catamounts came close, they lost that game as well. Vermont just hasn’t demonstrated that it can beat a team that’s good as UNC on either offense or defense, let alone a team that’s as good on both ends. It’s not that North Carolina isn’t beatable: it’s just that the Catamounts don’t really fit the proven blueprint for beating the Tar Heels. To beat this team, your team needs to either be able to make threes at a strong clip, match up and neutralize UNC’s deadly frontline, or, preferably, both. Vermont has been an average perimeter scoring team at best and the team’s starting power forward isn’t as tall as North Carolina’s shooting guard (though the Cats do have some good size on the bench). The Catamounts could beat the Tar Heels, but if they do, the defeat will look nothing like Kentucky, UNLV, Duke, or Florida State’s wins.
Vermont is overmatched and lacks the tools that David typically uses to topple Goliath. UNCA showed Syracuse why you can’t take victory over a 16-seed for granted, but this game figures to be significantly less competitive than that match.