#1 UNC at #19 Clemson

Where: Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson, SC
When: Sunday, January 6th, 7:30 PM
TV: FSN
Records: UNC 14-0, 0-0 ACC; Clemson 12-1, 0-0 ACC

Let me just say that I hate going to Littlejohn ranked #1.  And it is more than the loss in 2001 that ended the 18 game winning steak and basically sent UNC into the dark ages of the Matt Doherty era.  It is a tough place to play and I do not have a great feeling going down there because you have a reached a point in the season where a loss would not be surprising.

Now considering things that actually influence the game itself, this is, on paper, the stiffest challenge UNC has seen this season.  Clemson pressures the basketball which is something Ty Lawson has not seen this season.  The Tigers rebound well and run fast break extremely well which are also things UNC has not seen yet.  This is a tough matchup in every respect since Clemson also shoots the ball well on both the perimeter and in the paint.

Bearing all that in mind, it is important to remember UNC will be facing young guards who will have their share of problems handling Lawson.  Having Quentin Thomas available could be a huge development assuming he does not come in with erratic play.  Not having Alex Stepheson is worrisome because of the rebounding factor and if Mike Copeland can step up to grab a few boards so much the better.  It is hard not to count on Tyler Hansbrough for a huge night any time UNC plays.  Since this will most likely be an up and down affair with the possibility of a plethora of fouls, a usual occurrence in the UNC-Clemson game depth becomes a key issue.  Both teams make generous use of their bench but one has to believe that Danny Green is once more the X factor giving UNC a quality option off the bench.

All in all I expect an all out war and my confidence in a win is probably as low as it has been all season.  Still I think this would be a huge win and a validation for those who still think UNC is not all that.

UNC 92 Clemson 85

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4 Responses to #1 UNC at #19 Clemson

  1. C. Michael says:

    I think this is a bigger game for Clemson, who is trying to prove that they won’t go into a slide, a la last season. That always makes me nervous.

  2. TxTarheel says:

    It could prove beneficial if Clemson places greater pressure on themselves for this game. True it is a huge test for both teams, but Clemson may wind up playing tight to start the game…UNC needs to establish their will / pace of play much earlier than recent outings.

    Perimeter shooting (Ellington & Green) will be huge…without it Clemson will just collapse on Tyler & co.

  3. Andy in Omaha says:

    Also, keep in mind that Clemson does not shoot foul shots well at all. It’s very possible that the game could come down to missed free throws. The Tigers shoot only about 65% from the stripe, so this could definitely come into play down the stretch.

  4. william says:

    At the half perhaps the most apt description thus far would be, in he words otf the immortal Charlie Bown, “aaaarrrrgggghhhh!”

    Deon and Quinin and Marcus have got to step up with Brendan and Bobby gone this year. They clearly can all do better. The outside shooting has got to improve. If Wayne and Danny and Ty cannot consistently hit the 3, we are right back in the hell of last year’s Georgetown game.

    Almost all of the great UNC teams have had excellent wing men or three point shooters: Charlie Scott, Walter Davis, MJ, Donald Williams, Vince Carter and Rashad McCants.

    Rashad McCants (34 points in 31 minutes yesterday by the way, good going!) was so fundamental to the 2005 team. You could not pack the zone with him in there. If you look at the losses in 2005, except for Santa Clara, without Felton, all the losses involved bad games or games with foul trouble by Rashad.

    Wayne has similar skills but has not yet had the same amount of seasoning as Rashad, who was the team star along with Felton and May from day one. Mark my words: If this team is to win it all, Mr. Ellington must start to resemble Vince Carter and Rashad McCants and be able to take control of a game the way that they could. But then again, what do I know? I could be wrong. Let’s hope for a big second half by Mr. Ellington.

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