North Carolina is coming off a loss to Virginia where no one looked like they wanted to play that night. Clemson, on the other hand, never looked ready to play in its road loss at Pittsburgh. Both teams are desperate for an ACC victory on Sunday not just to improve resumes that are lacking, but to also get some sort of positive from what could be a disastrous week of basketball.
The Tar Heels have been terrible in conference play, which is validated by the team’s 1-4 record and the average scoring disparity of nearly 10 points in losses. Marcus Paige does not look like the same player who dominated Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky, the post play has been less than stellar and the team’s shooting woes at the free throw line continue to hinder any chance of staying close in games.
In addition to this, only Paige resembles a reliable 3-point shooter, and defenses have no reason to step out and guard anyone beyond the paint. North Carolina is ranked 99th in scoring average (75.2) and the running offense usually associated with coach Roy Williams-led teams is nonexistent. North Carolina at least plays Clemson at home and maybe, just maybe, this will help on Sunday.
Clemson did have a 4-1 ACC record entering the game against Pittsburgh and had a beatdown of Duke to its name. Well, that was quickly pushed aside when Pittsburgh came out and trampled the Tigers right from the tip. K.J. McDaniels was all but contained, and the rest of the team did not represent the look of a squad prepared for a fired-up Pittsburgh home crowd.
Clemson is definitely an odd team to define, and picking up a victory over North Carolina may actually be more expected than ever despite the history between these two teams in Chapel Hill. Regardless of the past, Clemson needs to win because it does not have the cushion to fall into a conference downward spiral. North Carolina needs a victory if the Tar Heels have any chance of turning this season into something worthwhile.
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