No. 12 North Carolina vs. Pittsburgh
When: 7 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Smith Center, Chapel Hill
TV/Radio: ESPN2 (Karl Ravech, Sean Farham). Internet live-stream: WatchESPN app. Radio: WTKK-106.1; SiriusXM channel 84.
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Projected starting lineups
North Carolina (19-4, 7-2 ACC)
G Joel Berry 14.8 ppg, 4 apg
G Kenny Williams 6.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg
F Justin Jackson 18.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg
F Isaiah Hicks 12.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg
F Kennedy Meeks 12.7 ppg, 9.7 rpg
Pittsburgh (12-9, 1-7)
G Jamel Artis 21.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg
G Chris Jones 6.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg
G Cameron Johnson 11.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg
F Sheldon Jeter 7.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg
F Michael Young 20.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg
▪ How does UNC respond?
The Tar Heels haven’t lost back-to-back games this season, and that should remain true on Tuesday against Pitt, the ACC’s last-place team. Roy Williams will be most concerned with winning, period, but UNC will be in search of a strong bounce-back performance after a disappointing showing during its 77-62 loss at Miami on Saturday. The Tar Heels struggled through a first half filled with offensive ineptitude – the kind rarely seen during Williams’ 14-year tenure. Joel Berry, the junior point guard, should be especially motivated after Miami held him to two points on 0-for-8 shooting.
▪ Emphasis on the interior.
Kennedy Meeks attempted just three shots from the field against Miami. Isaiah Hicks attempted six. That’s not how UNC’s offense is designed to work, with a combined nine shot attempts between its two starting front court players. So look for the Tar Heels to reassert themselves in the post on Tuesday night. Williams in recent days has bemoaned the lack of aggressiveness on the inside at Miami. He didn’t like how Meeks and Hicks allowed the defense to collapse on them before they made aggressive moves to the basket. That has likely been a big point of emphasis coming out of that loss.
▪ Scouting Pitt: The Panthers have regressed considerably in their first season under Kevin Stallings. After a promising start to conference play – an overtime loss against Notre Dame and a victory against Virginia – Pitt has lost six consecutive games. The 55-point loss against Louisville was the Panthers’ most lopsided since 1906, and it was indicative of a team that has surrendered. Statistically, the Panthers have been the worst defensive team in the ACC. They don’t force turnovers at a high rate and allow the opposition to shoot well, more often than not. Jamel Artis and Michael Young are the two top scorers in the ACC, but the team has been a mess otherwise.