BLOOMINGTON – Two top-15 teams. Two of the most historic programs in all of college basketball. Dick Vitale at the mic for ESPN.
It all adds up to one of the most anticipated nonconference games of the season as No. 1 Indiana faces No. 14 North Carolina today at Assembly Hall.
"It's something we will remember for a long time," Indiana sophomore forward Cody Zeller said Monday. "We're planning on having a big, loud crowd. It's something we all look forward to."
Indiana coach Tom Crean said many factors will determine the outcome of one of the marquee matchups of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. But none will be bigger for Indiana than the team's ability to get back on defense and to rebound.
"I don't know if we've seen a fast break come into Assembly Hall in our time here like we're going to see (tonight)," Crean said. "Their transition is second-to-none. It always is with Roy Williams' teams. We saw it firsthand when we were at Marquette, and he was at Kansas and we played in the Final Four. As hard as we prepared for it, it was unlike anything we had seen."
Crean said the Hoosiers (6-0) have faced talented break teams before, listing Michigan State, Michigan and Kentucky.
"But this Carolina team is at another level," he said.
The Tar Heels (5-1) had 24 fast-break points in a 112-70 victory against Chaminade on Wednesday at the Maui Invitational.
"All five guys are going to run the court the hardest every possession," Zeller said. "We can't take one possession off. We can't celebrate a nice play because they will be scoring in two seconds down on the other end. That's something they have always done and it's what they do this year. We definitely have to get back."
North Carolina coach Roy Williams said the Tar Heels won't just focus on slowing down Zeller (15.2 points per game).
"Look at their stats. Five guys in double figures (in scoring)," Williams said. "I'm not going to put four guys on Cody. Five guys averaging double figures. That's why no one could guard us in '09."
The Tar Heels will be without one of their top scorers as guard P.J. Hairston (10.8 points per game) will miss the game because of a knee injury.
But North Carolina still has forward James Michael McAdoo, who leads the team in scoring (16.8) and rebounding (8.8).
"McAdoo is unlike anything we've seen with his ability to rebound out of the break," Crean said. "They are not only a phenomenal transition team, but transition rebounding team. And McAdoo leads the way with that."
With both teams' ability to get up and down the court, Indiana associate head coach Tim Buckley has some advice for anyone attending the showdown.
"You might want to bring a neck brace," Buckley said with a smile.