The first-place Tar Heels return home Tuesday as they take on the last-place Panthers. As we all know by now, ACC teams have to show up on any given night to get a win. Carolina, having played one of their worst games of the season on Saturday, will need to have a short memory. Pittsburgh will come to Chapel Hill tonight 1-7 in the ACC and desperate for a signature win. The Panthers are near the bottom of the NCAA in terms of points allowed, which is good news for UNC whose offense at times this season has looked unstoppable.
On the flip side, Pitt is averaging fewer points than they allow. Those two statistics bode well for a Carolina victory. However, remember what I just said about ACC teams needing to bring it every game? No. 9 Virginia learned that lesson all too well on January 4th, when they lost to Pitt by 12. In that game, the Panthers shot 53% from the floor, and almost SIXTY-TWO percent from three. So, Pitt definitely can shoot the ball. We’ll see if they can post their second upset of the season later this evening.
To prevent it, the Heels will have to contain senior forwards Jamel Artis and Michael Young. Artis leads the ACC in scoring and is one of five players in Division I basketball averaging over 20 points per game, shooting 50% from the field, and 40% from three. Both Artis and Young are over six-foot-seven, so match ups could be an issue for UNC. Justin Jackson will likely guard one of the pair, and Isaiah Hicks could have the other assignment. If the Panthers can get Hicks or Meeks playing defense away from the basket, it could help them get Carolina into foul trouble, or out of good rebounding position.
Carolina will want to shoot the ball well from deep, but they absolutely have to be effective with their bigs. Joel Berry II and Kenny Williams, as dangerous as they can be, combined for one field goal in 16 attempts on Saturday. Getting them in rhythm early could help kickstart the UNC offense. Hicks and Meeks were virtually ineffective as well, posting four buckets in total against the Hurricanes. If Carolina can pound the ball inside, they could overwhelm a slightly small Pitt team.
Was Saturday an anomaly, a testament to the Miami defense, or the beginning of a slump for the Heels? We’ll find out tonight. "We have some major wounds that need to be healed," Roy Williams said Monday during his radio show with Jones Angell. Carolina will try to “heel” quickly by bouncing back against Pitt. The Panthers, will attempt to snap their six-game losing streak. Tipoff is at 7:00 pm on ESPN2.