UNC basketball vs. Clemson: Scouting report, score prediction as Tar Heels take on Tigers

·2 min read

North Carolina basketball finds itself in a sink-or-swim situation.

The Tar Heels (15-9, 7-6 ACC) carry a three-game losing streak into Saturday’s game (2 p.m., ESPN2) against Clemson (18-6, 10-3).

With seven games remaining in the regular season, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has UNC projected to be a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament. That will certainly change if the losses continue to pile up for the Heels.

Here are some things to know and a score prediction ahead of Carolina’s game against the Tigers.

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Armando Bacot’s message

After UNC’s 92-85 loss at Wake Forest, a game in which the Tar Heels trailed by 26 points, senior Armando Bacot had a strong postgame message for his teammates.

After spending more than 30 minutes in the locker room at Joel Coliseum, Bacot emerged and told reporters he addressed the team.

“I just told everybody, I’m not going to quit,” Bacot said. “If you want to be here, then be here on Thursday. If not, just go home.”

It’s clear Bacot, UNC’s top scorer and rebounder (17.5 points, 11.3 rebounds), grasps the gravity of UNC’s situation as March approaches.

“We’ve got the talent to do it. But me, Caleb (Love), RJ (Davis) and Leaky (Black), we came back for a reason, and this isn’t it,” Bacot said. “. … It starts with us four, and it’s frustrating. It’s frustrating. This one definitely hurts, but I’m not going to quit. I love this university too much, and I love the game of basketball too much to quit.

Clemson’s history at UNC

Clemson erased its infamous losing streak in Chapel Hill with a 79-76 overtime win at the Smith Center in 2020. Going back to 1926, the Tar Heels had won their first 59 home games in the series, an NCAA record for the longest winning streak against one opponent.

This season, Clemson has a chance to win its first ACC regular-season title since 1990. Coming off back-to-back losses, the Tigers are healthier with a rotation that includes four double-figure scorers, led by Monroe native Hunter Tyson (16.1 points, 9.8 rebounds per game).

UNC vs. Clemson score prediction

UNC 73, Clemson 68: History is on the side of the Heels in Chapel Hill. The teams haven’t looked great of late, but UNC has a 10-1 record at home this season. In front of what is sure to be a fired-up crowd, Carolina should be able to lean on that energy and avoid what would be a disastrous fourth loss in a row.

Staff writer Rodd Baxley can be reached at rbaxley@fayobserver.com or @RoddBaxley on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Fayetteville Observer: UNC basketball vs. Clemson: Scouting report, score prediction