Facing two teams ranked in the AP top 10 this week, North Carolina won't have an easy time bouncing back from its first loss of the season.
However, with Harrison Barnes' ankle injury unlikely to sideline him, it might be feeling better about its chances.The fifth-ranked Tar Heels host No. 9 Wisconsin on Wednesday night as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.North Carolina spent the first three weeks of the season atop the AP poll before a 90-80 loss to UNLV on Saturday. After taking a four-point lead into the break, the Tar Heels (5-1) missed their first 10 shots in the second half and the Rebels pulled away late."I'm sure they're disappointed -- I don't know if I would say angry," coach Roy Williams said. "I think they were disappointed greatly in losing. I think they were also disappointed greatly in how they played. And that's what we've got to change."There was concern afterward about the status of Barnes, who sprained his ankle in the loss, but North Carolina said he felt good after practicing fully Tuesday and would play Wednesday barring any setback.Barnes leads the Tar Heels with 17.3 points per game and adds 4.8 rebounds. He finished with 15 points against the Rebels on 6 of 16 from the field.North Carolina will need Barnes as it faces two top 10 opponents this week, including a visit to No. 1 Kentucky on Saturday.The Badgers figure to be a particularly challenging opponent for the Tar Heels with their outstanding outside shooting and stifling defense.UNLV was 13 of 32 from 3-point range and was the third opponent to outrebound the Tar Heels this season. The Rebels also held North Carolina to 30.6 percent shooting in the second half."Coach is constantly telling us things that we have to get better at," North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall said. "If we want to be the team we're capable of being, we have to put that effort out there. We have to rebound better. We have to guard the ball better. We know we're not playing like the No. 1 team in the country at this point in time."Wisconsin leads the nation in scoring defense, giving up 39.2 points per game while limiting teams to 30.5 percent shooting. The Badgers also are the second-most accurate team from long range, connecting on 47.2 percent with nine players hitting at least two 3-pointers this season.Ben Brust, who leads Wisconsin with 12.8 points per game, is averaging 3.2 3-pointers and is shooting 48.7 from beyond the arc.Marshall and the Tar Heels will try to hand Wisconsin (6-0) its first loss. The Badgers defeated BYU 73-56 on Saturday, shooting 13 of 24 from 3-point range. Brust shot 7 of 10 from long range on his way to a career-high 21 points. Jordan Taylor added 18 points and eight assists.Wisconsin is seeking its first 7-0 start since opening 11-0 in 1993-94, but will have to end an eight-game road losing streak against ranked teams to do that."Carolina is still Carolina," coach Bo Ryan said. "They are still the same players and we've got them in the Dean Dome. So North Carolina isn't any different than when they went out to Vegas. Probably a little ornerier maybe now, but they were going to play hard against us regardless of the loss.The teams' only previous meeting was an 88-82 victory for North Carolina in the 2005 NCAA tournament en route to winning the national championship.