If Wednesday night wasn't a must win for this team, then this absolutely is one. Carolina finds itself at 8-7 after once being ranked 5th in the country. More importantly it's 1-3 inside the ACC, after dropping back to back home games to Georgia Tech, and a improving Pittsburgh. This opponent is also one that Carolina should beat despite all the injuries, but we've seen how that's played out thus far.
Clemson comes to Chapel Hill hoping to win it's fist game ever on UNC's campus. With them they bring a even 7-7 record, and are 1-3 in conference play. Just like the Tar Heels, the Tigers have a hard rime putting the ball in the basket. Aamir Simms leads them in both scoring and rebounding averaging 13.5 points and 7.4 rebounds. Only other player averages double figures scoring, for a team that averages 68 points per game. We know Clemson wants to make this a ugly, grind it out game because that's the only way they can compete in this conference. As a team that only shoot 42.3% from the floor, and 31.8% from bonus distance.
If there ever felt like a year where Carolina could lose this game at home, and it not be a surprise this is it. After losses to Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh in your building how much worse can get it? There were signs of improvements in the first half on Wednesday night, but a second half meltdown had Roy Williams once again questioning team publicly to the ire of most Tar Heel fans. The thing is that if you find a way to win, you get to 9-7 to keep your head above water, while getting a all important second win in the ACC. Also you're off for a week so you have time to get better in practice while also getting healthy. Here are 3 keys to giving Clemson their 60th loss in Chapel Hill:
1. Playing 40 Minutes: Carolina doesn't have the luxury of not playing a complete game, and that was the case before all the injuries mounted up for this team. They played the first 20 minutes the other night the way they're supposed to, before melting down in the second half. While Clemson isn't a great team, they're going to come in with the intentions of winning this game, with the Tar Heels as vulnerable as ever. It's going to take a complete game to get back in the win column, and hopefully this team can start embracing the aspect of winning games in a different way.
2. Jeremiah Francis Playing Smarter: I'll echo Roy Williams when it's hard to complain about the play of the freshman point guard, when nobody expected him to play this season, yet here we are. Francis has found himself under the basket with nowhere to go too many times, to find his way out of trouble. He also has gotten a little careless with the basketball, as turnovers are mounting for the youngster. While it's hard to complain about his play, he's now a big part of whatever success this team will experience.
3. Second Chance Points: A staple of this storied program has been scoring on second chance opportunities, and that has simply disappeared this year. Carolina grabbed 14 rebounds on the offensive end against Pittsburgh, yet only converted that into 12 points. That's not good enough, especially for this team. Clemson is going to make Carolina work for shot they get, so it'll be imperative to score when a second chance opportunity presents itself.
Series History: Carolina is 121-20, against the Tigers since 1949-50, having never lost in Chapel Hill in 59 they've played there. Carolina won in LittleJohn last season in a game where Roy Williams experienced a vertigo spell, which caused him to miss the second half of the win.
UNC - 71st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.0 ( 83rd ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 94.3 ( 72nd )
Clemson - 93 overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 100.0 ( 178th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 92.3 ( 48th )
TV Info: This game will be televised on ACC Network Extra, with a tip time scheduled for 4:30 pm from the Smith Center.