UNC Basketball Heads To Tallahassee Looking To Stay Undefeated In ACC Play

The UNC Basketball program has reeled off nine consecutive victories and 8-0 in the ACC. They'll look to continue that win streak Saturday versus Florida State.

Florida State v North Carolina
Florida State v North Carolina / Lance King/GettyImages

The UNC Basketball program is absolutely rolling right now. There's no other way to put it. The Tar Heels have won nine straight contests, all by double figures. During this stretch they have shown they can win with defense (65-55 victory at Clemson) or with offense (103-67 victory versus Syracuse) and anywhere in between.

North Carolina is now 16-3 overall, 8-0 in the conference and ranked No. 3 in the most recent Associated Press Poll. They will look to keep that win streak and undefeated record going when they travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State this weekend.

441. ESPN. UNC BB vs FSU. 12-7. 435. 16-3. Saturday, Jan 27. . 2:00 PM

The Seminoles are 12-7 overall and currently in second place in the ACC with a 6-2 conference record.

It has been difficult to figure out the potential of Florida State. They led North Carolina by 14 in the second half back in early December before losing by eight. The Seminoles led Georgia by 17 and lost by two. The latest and most questionable outcome was a 78-75 loss versus Lipscomb on December 30th.

Since that loss to Lipscomb, they enter this game, winning six of their last seven games, with the lone loss coming to Clemson at home. This will not be a cakewalk for the Tar Heels to stay undefeated in conference play. The Tucker Center has caused problems as of late for North Carolina, and they are 1-3 in the last four games in Tallahassee versus the Seminoles, dating back to 2017-18.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

The first matchup between these two was in early December, prior to when we saw this version of the UNC Basketball program. On December 2nd, North Carolina wasn't playing defense at the level it had been throughout the nine-game win streak. Florida State still was held to just 70 points, however, they shot 42.9% from three-point range, making 12 of 28 attempts. Over half of the Seminoles points came from beyond the arc.

Since the Tar Heels have turned up the defensive intensity, rising as high as No. 4 in KenPom Adjusted Defensive Efficiency, they have protected the perimeter. In the seven conference games since Florida State, opponents are 26-141 from beyond the arc, good for 18.4%. That is even with an outlier of Louisville shooting 8-18 (44.4%).

Playing better defense, specifically on the perimeter, in the second matchup will be key to not letting Florida State build a lead like they did in Chapel Hill. It is important that the Tar Heels don't fall behind in this one like they did back in early December. That game was in the friendly confines of the Smith Center, where the UNC Basketball crowd was able to propel the Tar Heels to a comeback - it may be more difficult on the road.

Something to Watch For

Following the loss to Connecticut a few days after the Florida State game, we were beginning to wonder if Hubert Davis had stopped using his bench. Against the Seminoles, only six Tar Heels played more than 9 minutes, with 4 of the five starters getting 32 minutes. As of late, we've seen more Tar Heels get action off the bench. Seven Tar Heels have played more than 14 minutes in the last four ACC contests.

It appears that each member of this UNC Basketball team is falling into place with their individual roles and embracing what they are being asked to do, allowing everyone to get playing time in critical moments. That will be something to see if it continues against the Seminoles on Saturday and can that depth provide a boost for the Tar Heels off the bench.

Last Meeting

We have referenced the last meeting a few times throughout our preview as it was earlier this season. The Tar Heels defeated the Seminoles 78-70 in Chapel Hill on December 2nd, 2023 in the first ACC game of the season. North Carolina trailed 45-31 with 17:10 remaining and 52-40 with 13:25 to go in the game.

Then the Tar Heels began an incredible run, outscoring the Seminoles 30-4 over the next 9 minutes of game action to take a 70-56 lead with 4:41 remaining in the game before ultimately closing out the game to win 78-70. RJ Davis, as he has done all season, led the team with 27 points, followed by Armando Bacot with 13 and Harrison Ingram with 11. Bacot also brought in 13 rebounds for a double-double.

The Seminoles had four players in double figures, led by Jamir Watkins. A huge difference in that matchup was free throws. The Tar Heels attempted 31 to just 8 for the Seminoles. North Carolina made 25 of their attempts and was a deciding factor in this one. You can view our full game recap on Keeping It Heel here.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 3.5 apg

No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 11.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.3 apg

No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 21.0 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg

No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 1.4 apg

No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.5 apg