The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Friday, Sept. 29, 2023 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Preview: Breaking down UNC's path through the ACC Tournament

UNC junior guard Caleb Love (2) dribbles the ball up the court during the men’s basketball game against Clemson on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2023, at the Dean E. Smith Center.

Likely needing to win four games in the ACC Tournament to secure a spot in the Big Dance, the North Carolina men’s basketball team has plenty of work to do in Greensboro this week.

Entering the tournament as the No. 7 seed, North Carolina will open play on Wednesday and face the winner of Tuesday night’s Boston College-Louisville matchup. From there, the team will face a challenging but manageable path to the title game on Saturday night.

Here is a look at some of the opponents the Tar Heels could be in line to face:


Nearly everything went wrong for the Cardinals this season, who finished with a 4-27 record – their worst mark in the modern era.

One of Louisville’s lone highlights came on Feb. 18, when the team stunned Clemson with an 83-73 victory. Guard El Ellis spearheaded the winning effort and dropped 28 points while shooting 9-15 from the field.

The Cardinals held an eight-point lead over the Tar Heels in the opening half of the first outing, but a double-double from Armando Bacot and 14 bench points from D’Marco Dunn helped North Carolina pull away with the win. 

Boston College

The Tar Heels held off the Eagles in a 72-64 win mid-January, but Boston College has built momentum since the pair's previous matchup.

Despite ending the regular season with a loss to Georgia Tech, the Eagles have shown resilience by defeating then-No. 6 Virginia before picking up a quality road win at Wake Forest. The team is also one of the deepest in the country, as its bench accounts for 38.4 percent of its total team minutes.

One of Boston College's biggest weaknesses is its 3-point defense, as they allow opponents to convert on 36.8 percent of their triples. While UNC is the worst outside shooting team in the ACC, the Tar Heels could potentially generate some open looks to get in rhythm for the remainder of the weekend.


If UNC wins the opening-round matchup, they will face the No. 2-seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.

After missing the NCAA Tournament last season, Virginia has rebounded this year with a 23-6 record to claim a share of the ACC regular season title. Although the team lacks a definitive star on the offensive end, the Cavaliers couple their pesky defensive identity with a heavy emphasis on ball movement, as they rank second in the nation in assist percentage.

The Tar Heels faced the Cavaliers twice in the regular season, with the home team winning each outing. UNC graduate transfer forward Pete Nance missed the first matchup with a back injury, but he broke down Virginia’s pack line defense with 22 points to give the Tar Heels their only Quad One win of the season on Feb. 25.


Following the quarterfinal matchup, Clemson is the highest remaining seed on UNC's side of the bracket. 

The Tigers have been a puzzling team to decipher this season. While they boast a respectable 22-9 record, they sit 61st in the NET rankings and are currently outside the NCAA Tournament picture.

After UNC trudged through a three-game losing streak in early February, the Tar Heels responded with their most impressive performance of the season with a 91-71 win over the Tigers in Chapel Hill. Junior guards Caleb Love and RJ Davis scored a combined 40 points that afternoon, and the team matched a season high by draining 15 shots from downtown.

The Tigers have slowed down after a three-week stint in the top 25 by dropping five of their final nine games, but the team has still proven to be one of the more formidable teams in the conference. As another group looking to sharpen its postseason resume, the matchup could be a difficult test for two sides hoping to sneak into the NCAA Tournament.  


To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

@dthsports |