The North Carolina Tar Heels are on their worst losing streak since 2019-2020. The computers have Carolina favored over Georgia Tech, but there is only a sliver of optimism after the failed comeback attempt against Virginia Tech.
After five games away from Chapel Hill, UNC returns home. And a return to the home court is certainly needed.
Below are a few factors to watch as the Tar Heels seek to stop their losing streak.
As of writing, there is still no timetable for Armando Bacot’s return.
The Tar Heels were dominated in the paint last game. The Hokies, known for their beyond the arc prowess, outscored UNC 42-30 inside.
Most notably, Carolina did not get a single offensive rebound in the first half of the Virginia Tech game.
VT outrebounded UNC 39-24, and the Tar Heels pulled down just three offensive rebounds.
Pete Nance is not the answer inside, and Will Shaver only stepped on the court for a minute.
Hubert Davis needs to make some personnel changes because this is a glaring weakness for UNC. Injuries are a part of the game, and it is time for some youngsters to step up.
Nickel and Trimble
Speaking of youngsters stepping up, the contributions of Seth Trimble and Tyler Nickel were one of the few bright spots in recent games.
Each played significant and well-deserved minutes against Virginia Tech.
Nickel logged 25 minutes and tallied eight points.
Trimble played 22 minutes and scored six points. Much like his brother J.P. Tokoto, Trimble stuffed the state sheet with three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.
Another interesting stat from this pair was that with one offensive rebound a piece, Nickel and Trimble accounted for half of UNC’s offensive rebounds in that game.
The two freshmen earned minutes for Georgia Tech. Trimble’s defensive pressure was notable, and the rest of the squad should look to him as an example of the level of effort needed.
Time for some silver linings. Trimble’s defensive efforts were a catalyst for the Tar Heels late in the game against Virginia Tech.
The improvement on both ends of the court allowed Carolina to turn an 18-point hole into just a seven-point deficit with five minutes left in the game.
Sure, it was too little too late, but it was the first glimpse of good basketball since the Alabama game.
Much like the Pitt game last year, it is evident there must be a watershed moment for this team.
Can they bottle that heart and effort moving forward?
The Tar Heels will need it Saturday.