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Pittsburgh v North Carolina

by Sharon Thorsland

It’s a make or break game for North Carolina on Saturday when the Tar Heels face Clemson in Chapel Hill. They’ve lost three straight now and are quickly edging their way to the NCAA tournament bubble. The latest debacle came Tuesday night against Wake Forest, a loss that dropped them to 15-9 on the season and 7-6 in ACC play. After the game senior Armando Bacot called out his teammates’ lack of effort, basically telling them if they don’t want to be there – quit. Ouch. We’ll see if that message hit home when they take on the Tigers, who are the surprise of the ACC this year as they top the conference at 10-3 and are 18-6 overall. Tip-off is set for 2:00 on WBT.

While the Tar Heels are struggling, the Tigers have been cruising this season with a veteran squad led by fifth-year senior Hunter Tyson. The forward is averaging 16 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game, and is making over 43% of his 3-point shots. Center PJ Hall is one of the best big men in the league, he puts up over 14 points a game, so does Chase Hunter. The junior guard teams with Boston College transfer Brevin Galloway to run the Tiger offense.

Defensively the Tigers are one of the best units in the league. They rank 3rd in the ACC allowing just 67 points per game, and are number one in field goal defense, holding opponents to less than 40 percent from the floor. The Tar Heels have been having all sorts of trouble scoring recently but are clearly at their best when the offense goes through Armando Bacot, who is third in the league in scoring and number one in rebounding. Three-point shooting also remains a huge problem for the Heels, who are connecting on just 30 percent from behind the arc.

This is a huge game for both teams. The Tar Heels are looking to snap a 3-game losing skid, while the Tigers have lost two in a row as they try to win the regular season ACC title for just the second time in school history. History is on North Carolina’s side in this one though, as Clemson has only won once in Chapel Hill dating back to 1926. The Tigers lost 59 straight times until their last visit to the Dean Dome in January 2020, when they won 79-76 in overtime. It’s time for UNC to start a new streak – Go Tar Heels