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Tale of the Tape: UNC-Clemson

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

A statistical view of UNC's match-up with Clemson.

North Carolina Clemson
Record 11-7 13-5
ACC Record 1-4 4-2
KenPom Rank 46th 40th
Points per game 75.2 64.7
Points per possession 1.05 1.06
Offensive Efficiency(Rank) 106.9(121st) 103.3(190th)
Defensive Efficiency(Rank) 94.0(22nd) 90.5(8th)
Tempo(Rank) 71.8(26th) 60.5(348th)
Offensive eFG% 48.2% 47.7%
Defensive eFG% 44.9% 41.2%
Field Goal % 45.4% 42.6%
3P FG% 30.3% 31.8%
Offensive Reb Rate 37.9% 36.3%
Defensive Reb Rate 68.1% 69.6%
TO Rate 17.8% 18.1%
FT Rate 45.4% 35.2%
KenPom win probability UNC 65%

Stats sources: KenPom and Statsheet

That stat everyone is more interested in talking about for this game is 56-0 which is UNC's record versus Clemson in Chapel Hill. Given the current state of the season that number isn't nearly as important as 1-4 or 11-7 or whatever win total gets UNC into the NCAA Tournament.

Still, if you are going to discuss a reason why Clemson has a fighting chance to end the drought in Chapel Hill, the Tigers' defense is it. UNC's offense is in a bad place right now. Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald can't buy a consistent shooting game from three. The big men have moments where they produce but at times don't. The overall execution is suspect. UNC does a great job grabbing offensive rebounds but doesn't convert them. The fast break, which has been a Tar Heel calling card in the Roy Williams era, is almost non-existent.

UNC's offense against any sort of decent defense(Miami and Wake Forest) struggles to produce. UNC's offense against a top 20 caliber defense(Virginia and Syracuse) is really going to struggle which brings us to Clemson. The Tigers are #8 in defensive efficiency, #2 defensive effective FG%, #3 in three point shooting defense, #7 in block percentage, #9 in defensive free throw rate and #15 in twp point shooting defense. On top of that Clemson slows the game down averaging 60.5 possessions per game.

An inefficient offense versus a defense that limits good shooting and slows the game down is a nightmare for this Tar Heel team. UNC needs a lot of possessions to compensate for the lack of efficiency. In three of the four ACC losses the games have been under 70 possessions. UNC is 9-3 when the game reaches 70 or more possessions with two of those losses being against Belmont and Texas when UNC missed 50 free throws combined. The other one was at Wake Forest where UNC had a turnover rate of 23% and failed to capitalize on a 24-8 edge in offensive rebounding.

The problem for UNC is speeding a game up is harder than slowing it down. If Clemson doesn't want to push the pace the Tar Heels will need to rely on turnovers. That likely means more use of the Scramble defense to keep Clemson from holding the ball. Clemson is averaging 19 seconds per possession on both ends of the floor. UNC needs to make both of those quicker to have a fighting chance or else the season is going to be in deep trouble.