Where: Dean Smith Center, Chapel Hill, NC
When: Sunday, February 10, 6:30 PM
Records: UNC 21-2, 6-2 ACC; Clemson 17-5, 5-3 ACC
Which odds are worse: Clemson beating UNC in Chapel Hill or UNC losing two straight home game? Unfortunately for Clemson they face both.
This is the most dangerous game of the season for UNC. I am convinced the season turns on this game considering a loss would drop the Heels into a three way tie for second with Maryland and Clemson at 6-3. A loss would hand Duke the ACC regular season and put UNC in a bad position in terms of future NCAA seeding. So I would argue every game from this point out is a must win if UNC wants to be a #1 seed but more important than that I believe the Heels have to win today to avoid the possibility that this season will go spiraling out of control. There is also the matter of the Clemson losing streak in Chapel Hill which really does not matter in the final equation but not something you would expect to see happen given how good this Tar Heel team is talent wise.
The question everyone is asking is concerning Ty Lawson and is availability. Obviously this is paramount given the troubles UNC has at Clemson getting the inside game working versus the Tiger big men. Possibly just as important is the relative absence of offensive production from Wayne Ellinton and Danny Green. Ellington was huge last time with 36 points and Green has been that guy to hit key shots up until the last few games. Getting these two guys on track is a huge deal whether Lawson plays or not as is stepping up the defensive intensity.
In my mind the odds of losing two straight at home are longer than Clemson breaking the streak. I often talk about seeing how a team responds and see if that tells you something about their mettle or will. This game is no different. I expect Lawson to return but even if he does not I believe the rest of the team shows up.
UNC 90 Clemson 75