ACC Tournament: UNC vs. Miami game preview, info, prediction and more

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Joel Berry II
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 07: Joel Berry II /

UNC and Miami square off for the second time in 10 days with the winner advancing in the ACC Tournament

It was just over a week ago when the Miami Hurricanes spoiled Senior Night in Chapel Hill by beating the North Carolina Tar Heels on a buzzer beater.

After Joel Berry hit a three-pointer to tie the game with just seconds left, Miami’s Ja’Quan Newton drained a near half-court three-pointer as time expired. A win would have clinched a double-bye for UNC but instead they are the No. 6 seed in the ACC Tournament.

Now they have a chance for payback.

It seemed like nothing went UNC’s way the last time these two teams met. Both Cameron Johnson and Joel Berry, 90-plus percent free throw shooters, went a combined 7-of-12 from the line in that game.

Miami also made 50 percent of their three-point attempts after entering the game dead last in the ACC in three-point shooting percentage. But in the end UNC missed too many opportunities to tie or take the lead and it hurt them.

A little over a week later, these two teams are now battling for a spot in the ACC Tournament Semifinals and a matchup against either Notre Dame or Duke.

UNC swept Notre Dame in both meetings but split the two with Duke this season including a season-finale loss in Durham. Miami beat Notre Dame in their only meeting and lost to Duke in the only meeting this year.

The Hurricanes earning that double-bye means they got an extra day of rest while UNC beat Syracuse on Wednesday.

Here’s what you need to know about Thursday’s nightcap:

One Miami player to watch…

Freshman Chris Lykes is only 5-foot-7 but he’s played big for the Hurricanes this season.

Against UNC, Lykes scored 18 points and stole the show. The Miami guard went 4-of-8 from the three-point line and hit a few of those late in the game. He became a matchup problem for UNC.

Going into Thursday’s game, the Tar Heels can’t let Lykes do that again.

Senior point guard Joel Berry will be matched up on Lykes and we expect a better defensive performance this time around.

Still, if Lykes gets hot it will open up more opportunities for a player like Lonnie Walker IV who can beat you from anywhere on the court.

One UNC player to watch…

Theo Pinson is coming off another impressive performance against Syracuse. The senior wing scored 16 points in the win over Syracuse and was one of four UNC starters in double figures.

But it wasn’t just Pinson’s scoring that had an impact.

Pinson was fantastic on the defensive end, clamping down and making things difficult for the Orange on the wing. He finished the game with two steals and a block.

In addition to the 16 points, Pinson also had 11 rebounds and 6 assists, posting a double-double.

Last time they met…

Hate to bring it up again but it was Senior Night in the Dean E. Smith Center on Feb. 27th as Miami snuck out of there with a win. The night was supposed to be about Joel Berry and Theo Pinson and it almost was.

Berry was almost the hero when he drained a three-pointer to tie the game with just a few seconds left. But it was quickly erased by a Miami buzzer beater.

Next: UNC advances in ACC Tournament

The senior Berry finished with 31 points in the losing effort.

What you need to know…

What? UNC 22-9 (1-0 ACC Tournament) vs. Miami 22-8 (0-0 in ACC Tournament)
When? Thursday, March 7th at 9 p.m. ET
Where? Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, New York
Radio? Tar Heel Sports Network
Line? UNC -6
All-Time series? UNC leads 21-8.
Prediction? UNC 81, Miami 80