Heel Tough Blog: Clemson Preview

Despite not playing over the weekend, it was a productive weekend for Carolina Basketball. After this past weekend’s results, the Tar Heels now own the longest active winning streak in the ACC, and sit only 1.5 games out of first place. That’s not bad for a team that once started league play 0-2, and had their head coach dropping f bombs in postgame press conferences. A couple of weeks ago, Carolina had an important 2 game homestand, where they capitalized winning both games in Chapel Hill. This week, they are tasked with back to back road games, as they’ll travel to Clemson tomorrow, then Duke on Saturday. If the Tar Heels find a way to take both games this week, it’ll be hard to not consider this team capable of winning this wide open league.





Back in January, when Carolina was supposed to host the Tigers, there was a belief that maybe Clemson was the best team in the league. Brad Brownell’s squad was playing their brand of basketball, tough, physical defense, with timely scoring on the offensive end. Following this weekend’s loss 79-53 at Duke, Clemson is in more danger of missing the NCAA Tournament, than competing to win the ACC. The Tigers have lost 4 of their last 5, all in blowout fashion. They were routed at home by Virginia 85-50, followed by double digit road losses at Georgia Tech and Florida State, in games that weren’t as close as the final score would even suggest. The Tigers are led by Aamir Sims, as the senior forward is the only player on the roster to average double figures scoring at 12.8 per game. Overall, Clemson averages just 64.4 points per game, which is 314th in the country.


While a week off was nice, Carolina is anxious to get back out on the court, as they appear to be hitting their stride and putting it all together. Coming off an impressive road win at Pittsburgh last Tuesday, the Tar Heels confidence is at the highest it’s been all season long. With that in mind, they’ll need to be ready to play as winning at Clemson even in a COVID year won’t be easy:


  1. Contain Sims: A lot like when playing Pittsburgh, who features Justin Champagnie, there’s no slowing down Aamir Sims, you can only hope to contain him. The senior big man returned after having a breakout junior season in 2019-20. Sims leads the Tigers in scoring, rebounding, and even assists as he does it all for his team. He’s a tough assignment as he’s able to step out and play on the perimeter, so expect a heavy dose of Garrison Brooks on Sims.

  2. Playing Through Bacot: Armando leads Carolina in scoring, despite only averaging 7.3 shots per game. While that means that Bacot has been efficient (he’s shooting 65%), the Tar Heels need to get him the basketball more often.

  3. Half-Court Offense: In conjunction with playing through Bacot, Carolina’s half-court offense will be tested in this game for sure. While their level of play has dipped, Clemson is still one of the tougher teams to score against in the ACC. They only allow 63.5 per game, which is 37th best in the NCAA. We’ve talked a lot about the progression of Caleb Love and R.J. Davis, this will be a chance for them to display just how far they’ve come.

Series History: The Tar Heels have owned the series against the Tigers winning 133 of the 155 all time matchups. In Clemson, Carolina is 40-14, including having 29 times in LittleJohn Coliseum. Even with Clemson having won 2 of the last 3, Carolina is 21-4 under Roy Williams against the Tigers.


KenPom:


UNC - 36th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 110.3 (53rd) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 92.3 (29th)


Clemson - 60th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 105.5 (101st) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 91.4 (20th)


NET:


UNC - 48th.


Clemson - 59th.


TV Info: This highly important ACC battle will be televised on ACC Network, starting at 7 pm.


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