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UNC vs. Pitt: Three Things to Watch

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The defense remains a concern heading into tomorrow’s game.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina at Clemson Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

The absolute worst thing the North Carolina Tar Heels can do right now is look past Pitt. The Panthers have lost 10 straight games, and are winless in conference play.

The Tar Heels need this Saturday evening game at the Smith Center to regroup and refocus prior to the toughest stretch of the regular season. However, this will only be a reset if the team puts forth the effort.

Here a three things to watch versus Pitt.

Defense

This point is general and obvious, but it is too big of an issue right now not to mention.

The good news for Tar Heel fans is that Pitt is third to last in the ACC in three point field goal percentage at 32.5 percent.

The bad news is that the fourth to last team in the ACC in three point field goal percentage shot 50 percent against UNC two games ago.

In short, with the defense reeling, no opponent can be underestimated.

Junior guard Jared Wilson-Frame is the leading scorer for Pitt at 13 points per game, and is averaging two made threes per game. Marcus Carr, the six-foot-one freshman guard from Toronto, is the third leading scorer for Pitt. He is shooting 34.6 percent from behind the arc.

If the Naismith Hall of Fame coach for UNC does not have any answers for the defense right now, I do not know how much more any of us bloggers can contribute. As mentioned previously, the best thing for the Tar Heels to do is to get back to basics by putting intensity back into the defensive effort.

Theo Pinson’s Status

By all accounts, Theo Pinson could have returned to the game Tuesday night versus Clemson and will likely play tomorrow.

Questions remain about his status in the starting lineup and availability during the game.

This team is better with a healthy Pinson on the floor, and his recent performances in four of the past six games are some of the best of his career.

As posed in the aftermath of the Clemson loss, the injury to Pinson may create an opportunity to shake up the starting lineup by including a big man at the five. This may help the Tar Heels find some offensive balance in the midst of a stretch that has seen impressive individual performances in team losses.

Playing all 40 Minutes

In two of the three losses, Carolina was down at the half, including a 16-point deficit against Clemson.

Needless to say, this team needs to start on time to avoid these types of uphill battles in the second half.

Once again, this comes down to effort. Joel Berry II, Theo Pinson, and the other veteran leaders on this team must set the tone for the defensive intensity and offensive rhythm for the Tar Heels.

Carolina has the talent and experience to take care of business Saturday, and a victory can do much to boost morale both on the sidelines and in the stands.

However, it will not be given to them. The Tar Heels face a big challenge Saturday, and how they respond may set the course for the rest of the season.