The Tar Heels return to action tonight in Brooklyn, as they start ACC Tournament action against Virginia. The last time we saw Carolina, they upset Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium, in a game that secured their NCAA Tournament hopes, and has given the team a level of confidence they haven’t had all season long. The win over Duke also locked them in as the #3 seed in the ACC Tournament, meaning they only have to win 3 games in 3 days, to capture a tournament title.
Virginia won their first game of the ACC Tournament, 51-50 late last night against Louisville. They enter tonight with a 19-12 record, after going 12-8 in the conference during the regular season. With Wake Forest’s loss to Boston College yesterday, the door has opened for a team like UVA to win their way into the NCAA Tournament, with a good showing this week. The Cavaliers have three players averaging double figures scoring led by Jayden Gardner.
These two teams met back in January in a game Carolina dominated, 74-58, behind a powerful performance by Armando Bacot. The win over UVA, snapped a 7 game losing streak to them, as Tony Bennett had Roy Williams’ number the last couple of seasons. They’ll look to replicate the same performance again tonight.
Entering tonight’s game, Carolina is currently slotted at an #8 seed according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. That means with a good showing in the ACC Tournament, they can improve their seeding as we close in on Selection Sunday. While that is important, the first task at hand is to not let last Saturday be deemed a fluke with a bad showing tonight. Here’s how they can advance into the semifinals of the ACC Tournament:
Play Inside-Out: There aren’t many teams in the ACC that have a guy that can guard Armando Bacot, and that was proven in the first contest, as he racked up 29 points, 22 rebounds. After going 10-11 against Mark Williams last weekend in Durham, it should be clear for this team to play inside-out, the rest of the season.
Energy: It’s going to be a late tip for UNC tonight, as it is scheduled for a 9:30 PM tip, but that is subject to change. There will be a nice contingent of UNC fans in attendance for tonight’s game, but there will be a sleepy environment in the Barclays Center. Carolina will need to generate their own energy tonight, against a team that will be playing for their NCAA Tournament lives.
Turnovers: Virginia is going to lessen the number of possessions in tonight’s game which means UNC will need to value the basketball, and not waste scoring opportunities. In the first matchup this season, Carolina only committed 9 turnovers and scored 74 points. With the way this offense is functioning following the win over Duke, if they don’t turn it over, it’s hard to imagine UVA being able to keep pace once again.
UNC in the ACC Tournament: UNC has won 18 ACC Tournament titles, and have played in the final 35 times. In quarterfinal action, they are 47-13. They have won at least one game in the ACC Tournament for seven straight seasons. As a 3 seed, they are 13-8, having won the 1997 ACC Tournament, as a 3 seed. In Brooklyn, Carolina is 4-2, having lost to Duke in 2017, and UVA in 2018.
UNC - 32nd overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 114.6 (20th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.7 (82nd)
Virginia - 77th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 108.9 (80th) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 98.1 (73rd)
UNC - 32nd.
Virginia - 79th.
TV Info: Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 9:30 on ESPN.
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