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5 Games To Look Forward To In North Carolina’s ACC Schedule

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North Carolina: Top 5 Games To Watch In ACC Schedule


Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

With non-conference play in the books, the North Carolina Tar Heels now have their sights set on the ACC part of their schedule. The ACC is one of the most competitive conference in the country, and the 10-3 Tar Heels definitely have a lot to prove.

The ACC is more competitive than ever this year due to the additions of teams from the Big East. These teams include Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Syracuse. All of these teams were very successful in Big East in the past, so now the ACC will be much more difficult to be successful in. The Tar Heels have their work cut out for them, and all eyes will for sure be on them as they move forward.

Of course, the Tar Heels still have to play in-state rivals North Carolina State and Duke, so it will not be an easy road leading up to March.

Non-conference play means little to nothing once conference play rolls around, because as seen in the past, anything can happen in these games. ACC games are always filled with upsets, late game excitement, and there are always a few teams that shock the nation. When it comes down to it, the teams that are successful in the ACC are those that give 110 percent in each and every contest. A team must not focus on games in the future, but they must focus on each individual game as if it is for the hardware.

The Tar Heels are now entering an entirely new season, and all of their losses to unranked teams are behind them. Each one of the team's conference games are a must watch, but here are the top five games that are guaranteed to get fans off of their seats and have their eyed glued to their television screens.

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5. Vs Pittsburgh (Feb 15)


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The Pittsburgh Panthers enter ACC play with a 12-1 record, making them one of the top teams in the ACC thus far. Luckily for the Tar Heels, they get their first glimpse of the Panthers on their home court in Chapel Hill, so the momentum should help them be successful.

The Panther's leading scorer, Lamar Patterson, should not give the Tar Heels much difficulty if J.P. Tokoto and James Michael McAdoo can help neutralize his size and shooting abilities. The guard/forward can be a factor in the backcourt and frontcourt, so the Tar Heels must come at the Panthers with a balanced attack.

It will be very interesting to see how Pittsburgh performs in their first year in the ACC, and it will be even more interesting to see how the young Tar Heel team handles them in their first matchup as conference rivals.

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4. @ Notre Dame (Feb 8)


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Notre Dame has a history of success in the Big East, but with a record of 9-4 entering ACC play, they have a lot to prove. As mentioned before, non-conference records mean nothing at this point in the season, so the Tar Heels cannot take them lightly.

Not only will this be the Tar Heels' first taste of the Fighting Irish as an ACC team, but they will be playing this game on the road. Notre Dame's leading scorer and assist man Jerian Grant can definitely take over the game if Marcus Paige and Nate Britt do not step up in the backcourt. Grant can also shoot from beyond the ark effectively, which the Tar Heels have not really been able to do thus far.

This will for sure be a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, making it one of the most important matchups of the season.

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3. Vs North Carolina State (Feb 1), @ NC State (Feb 26)


Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina State has been a long-time rival to the Tar Heels, and each and every game between the two teams is watched very closely. Last season, the rivals split in their two matchups, both winning on their home courts. This year, the Tar Heels hope to come up with a clean sweep over their rival, but it certainly will not be easy.

NC State is also 10-3 entering ACC play, so this should be an even matchup between the teams. A main part of NC State's success thus far has been the production of forward T.J. Warren. The 6-8 big man averages close to 24 points per game, while leading the team in rebounding. McAdoo will most likely be matched up with Warren both times the team plays, so he will really need to step up and play like he has in the Tar Heels' last few games.

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2. @ Syracuse (Jan 11)


Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse has not only solidified a spot as one of the top teams in the ACC thus far, but in the nation as well. Right now, they are No. 2 in the country, and unbeaten as they enter conference play. The Tar Heels play them in the third game of their ACC schedule, so time is running out to find a way to beat this college basketball powerhouse.

Syracuse is lead by some of the most prolific players in the country, including C.J. Fair, Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis. If the Tar Heels want to be successful against the Orange, then every player from the starting lineup to the end of the bench must play at the top of their game. They must shoot their free throws effectively and make as few mistakes as possible.

The Tar Heels will have their hands full with Syracuse this season, and for many seasons to come, so it is vital that they make a statement in their first matchup as conference opponents. The team cannot look past their first two conference games against Wake Forest and Miami to focus on Syracuse, but coach Roy Williams definitely has a lot on his plate to begin ACC play.

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1. Vs Duke (Feb 12), @ Duke (March 8)


Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Where do I begin with the importance of the Tar Heels' games against Duke? This is the greatest rivalry in college basketball, and may be the greatest rivalry in college sports all together. Every single game between the two teams is a flat out war. The Tar Heels were swept by the Blue Devils last season, and this season, they are out for revenge.

The games against Duke, especially when they play each other to close out the season, usually decide the top seeds in the ACC conference tournament. Even if the Tar Heels completely collapse in ACC play and do not come close to winning the title, wins against Duke will give them some sort of success to walk away with.

Duke may possess the top player in the entire country with freshman Jabari Parker. He is basically an NBA player playing against college athletes, and the Tar Heels will need an entire team effort to slow him down. Aside from Parker, Duke has several other weapons in Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton. The team can shoot lights out from all over the court, and can also give the Tar Heels trouble in the frontcourt. The Tar Heels have their work cut out for them, and only time will tell just how successful they can matchup against the Blue Devils.

These games will have an atmosphere similar to a Final Four game, and fans from all over the country will be tuning in to see the most profound rivalry in college sports. This series will be one for the history books, so get your popcorn ready.