UNC vs Clemson: Preview, broadcast information and prediction

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 16: Donte Grantham
SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 16: Donte Grantham /

Clemson hits the road looking to get its first win ever against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill

With what is Clemson’s best team in recent memory, they enter Tuesday’s showdown with UNC, looking to leave Chapel Hill with a winning feeling for the first time in school history.

The Tigers are 0-58 in games at North Carolina in program history.

Sitting at second in the conference and just one game back from Virginia atop the rankings, Clemson brings in a very confident team who is clicking on all cylinders as of late.

Due to UNC’s slow starts in recent performances this season, the Tigers will look to jump on the Tar Heels right away and play with the lead most of the game.

Though they have been tested on the road, with victories at Ohio State and Boston College, the Tar Heels are a major step up for a Clemson team looking to bolster its resume.

With UNC still figuring out its rotation and starting lineup, as well as lacking intensity for a full 40 minutes, this will be a terrific test to see if the Tar Heels can put together a full game, which is what will be needed in order to walk away with a victory on Tuesday.

One Clemson player to watch…

Donte Grantham’s skill set is extremely similar to that of Jaron Blossomgame, who averaged 19.5 points on 56 percent shooting with 6.5 rebounds the last two seasons against UNC.

At 6-foot-7, Grantham is a mismatch for most big men as he can use his quickness and footwork to drive by them on the wing, and use his height and size to overpower smaller wings in the post.

Since Carolina has gone with a small lineup the last two games, his matchup will probably be that of Theo Pinson, with a similar frame.

It has been well known how Carolina has struggled to rebound the ball on the defensive end, especially with their small lineup, so look for Grantham to spend more time on the perimeter to draw Pinson, one of the team’s best rebounders, away from the basket.

If this is the case, it will put much more pressure on Cameron Johnson to be physical in the paint and use his length to rebound the ball.

Averaging 14.9 points (58 percent FG / 43 percent 3pt FG), 7.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, look for the Tigers to take advantage of Grantham’s matchup as much as possible whenever Carolina has two big men in the game, as neither Luke Maye or the freshman bigs have the lateral quickness to guard him on the wing.

One North Carolina player to watch…

Cameron Johnson is a crucial piece on the offensive end for the Tar Heels. His versatility allows for Carolina to go with many different lineups and rotations, but his consistency on the offensive end is much needed.

The combination of his size, at 6-foot-8, and skillset opens up the whole offense for Carolina, and when he is in constant ‘attack’ mode on the offensive end, it allows Joel Berry and Luke Maye to let the game come to them instead of forcing the action.

What makes Johnson so good is his ability to move without the ball.

He loves to get in the middle of the defense and catch the ball around the free throw line coming around a screen. When he is at his best is when the offense is running through him in the midrange, not necessarily always scoring the ball, but being able to use his passing ability to create for others.

Due to Clemson’s guards and wing players all around 6-foot-3, his height advantage will be something the Tar Heels need to take advantage of.

Difference Maker…

Foul trouble is the key in the game. Clemson only have about two players seeing consistent action off their bench, so if the Tigers get in early foul trouble, they will have to rely on a bench that is not used to seeing a lot of action.

Mark Donnal and David Skara are the lone members of the bench who see double-digit minutes per game and freshman guard Aamir Simms, who averaged around 13 minutes a game in the non-conference, has yet to see more than 8 minutes in a game during ACC play (5.3 mpg).

Though Carolina’s bench production has been extremely inconsistent all season, there are at least five players who see minutes every game and all around 10+ minutes per contest.

Related Story: Berry Delivers Message to Teammates

What you need to know

WHAT? Clemson 15-2 (4-1 ACC) @ North Carolina 14-4 (3-2 ACC)
WHEN? Tuesday, January 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET
WHERE? Dean E. Smith Center – Chapel Hill, North Carolina
RADIO? Tar Heel Sports Network
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads 131-20. (Clemson 0-58 in Chapel Hill)
PREDICTION? UNC 77, Clemson 71