Following a home matchup against UNC Greensboro on Wednesday, the No. 24 North Carolina women’s basketball team will travel to Connecticut to take on No. 17 UConn in the Naismith Hall of Fame Women's Showcase in Uncasville.
As a team that has lost to every ranked program it has faced this season, the Tar Heels will need to capitalize against a UConn group that's sporting its lowest ranking in 30 years. While the Huskies have lost to elite teams like No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 N.C. State and No. 5 Texas, they will still likely be a challenge for a UNC team struggling to score — North Carolina is averaging the second-worst marks in the ACC in points per game.
Here are three keys for the Tar Heels to secure their first ranked win.
Stop Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Mühl
Paige Bueckers has scored in double figures in every game this season except one. She dropped 31 and 27 points in losses to top-3 teams UCLA and N.C. State, respectively. Simply put, even when the Huskies as a whole have been stopped, the junior guard hasn't slowed down.
While the Tar Heels can work to contain Bueckers' dynamic scoring, they will likely find more success in stopping her supporting cast. Although Edwards and Mühl will pose many challenges, both players should be easier for North Carolina to control.
Behind Bueckers, Edwards is the second leading scorer on the team, averaging 15.4 points per game. She will likely battle with senior guard Alyssa Ustby and junior center Maria Gakdeng in the paint, who will have to work cohesively to combat her physicality at the rim.
Although Mühl only averages 7.3 points per game, she is UConn’s floor general, averaging 4.3 assists per game. Last season, Mühl broke Sue Bird's program record for single-season assists with 284. Limiting Mühl’s passing abilities should lower Bueckers and Edwards' scoring potential. To do this, the Tar Heels will have to control Mühl’s tempo and not be caught ball-watching, which will prevent opportunities for Huskie backdoor cuts.