North Carolina (12-1) vs. Penn (6-5)
Chapel Hill, N.C. - Dean E. Smith Center
8 p.m., TV - ESPN
Season to Date: Penn has not shied away from playing high major opposition, though they've tallied some losses as a result. Games against BIG EAST foes Syracuse, Villanova and Seton Hall all resulted in losses. Their other two defeats were the season opener against UTEP and a home blowout at the hands of Fordham. Those five teams that Penn has lost to have a combined 43-20 record. The Quakers' wins have mostly come against lower-tier Div. I teams such as Drexel, Monmouth and Navy.
Pickpocket: Returning Ivy League Player of the Year Ibrahim Jaaber is the team's second leading scorer and top assist man, yet he's most feared for his on-the-ball defense. The senior guard is averaging 3.4 steals per game. He also leads the team in offensive rebounding.
New Star: While it was Jaaber who won the award for the conference's top player last season, senior forward Mark Zoller has grabbed the spotlight this season. His 21.3 points and 7.9 rebounds lead the team in both categories, and he's the only Quaker who has scored in double-digits in all 11 games this season. His top performance came against Villanova, when he posted 33 points on lights-out shooting (9-12 FG, 5-6 3pt, 10-10 FT).
Shooters: The strength of the Penn team is its shooters. The Quakers have posted a 49.6 field goal percentage through 11 games, including 37.7 percent on three-pointers. The team's top three scorers (Zoller, Jaaber and Grandieri) are all shooting better than 51 percent from the field and better than 37.5 percent from long range. In their Dec. 2 loss to Villanova, the Quakers shot a blistering 58% FG and and 63% 3pt and still lost by 10 points (thanks to committing 25 turnovers). They even shot 67% FG and 87% 3pt in the first half of that game and yet trailed by seven at the break.
Former Heel: Senior guard Adam Franklin used to wear the UNC basketball uniform -- for the Tar Heel JV squad. After two seasons in Chapel Hill, he transferred to Penn and has seen limited action as a Quaker.
New Head Quaker: Fran Dunphy was the face of Penn basketball for 17 years, but he left in the offseason to take the vacant job at Temple. His replacement is Glen Miller, who was already in the Ivy League as Brown's head coach. Prior to Brown, Miller coached at Connecticut College, where he was named the NABC Division III Northeast Coach of the Year in 1998 and 1999.
Series History: This is the sixth meeting all-time between North Carolina and Penn. The last three meetings have come in the NCAA Tournament in 1987, 1979 and 1972. UNC leads the series, 3-2, and the two teams have never played each other in Chapel Hill. Penn is also 36-32 all-time against the ACC.
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Conference: Ivy League
Colors: Red & Blue
Head Coach: Glen Miller
Record at UP: 6-5 (1st year)
Last Year: 20-9 (12-4)
2 Ibrahim Jaaber (6-2, 170, Sr.) – 15.7 ppg, 5.4 apg
21 Brian Grandieri (6-4, 190, Jr.) - 12.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg
20 Tommy McMahon (6-7, 210, So.) – 5.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg
24 Mark Zoller (6-7, 220, Sr.) – 21.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg
3 Steve Danley (6-8, 225, Sr.) – 12.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg
14 Michael Kach (6-4, 195, Jr.) – 4.5 ppg
15 Kevin Egee (6-3, 175, So.) – 2.7 ppg
5 Darren Smith (6-4, 200, Fr.) – 2.4 ppg
42 Brennan Votel (6-7, 215, So.) – 2.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Roster & Bios
Jaaber ....... Grandieri
Danley ....... McMahon
(Photos courtesy AP)