UNC Basketball looks to capture ACC Tournament title on Saturday night

Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball program are one game away from reaching another goal of theirs, as they take on NC State in the ACC Tournament title game.

North Carolina v Florida State
North Carolina v Florida State / Greg Fiume/GettyImages

After defeating Pittsburgh in the ACC Tournament semifinals on Friday night, the UNC basketball program is one game away from reaching yet another goal of theirs.

Winning the ACC Tournament.

The Tar Heels will face a very familiar opponent, as the No. 10-seeded NC State found a way to put together a Cinderella story en route to the ACC Tournament title game.

Saturday, March 16, 2024. 27-6. 8:30 PM EST. UNCNCST. 441. . 21-14. 2272. ESPN

North Carolina's path to the title game was shorter than their opponents, as the Tar Heels only had to win two games to get to this point. After blowing out Florida State in the quarterfinal round, Pittsburgh gave the Tar Heels a run for their money, but the guys in Carolina Blue found a way to get it done.

As for the Wolfpack, well, this will be their fifth consecutive game in as many days. NC State defeated Louisville, Syracuse, Duke and Virginia in that span, with their latest victory being one that will go down as an instant ACC classic.

Trailing by six at the end of regulation, NC State found a way to tie the game and force it into overtime. From there, the Wolfpack took over, knocking off the No. 3-seeded Cavaliers.

With Tennessee and Arizona losing on Friday, the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament may already be secured by the Tar Heels. However, they want to add another title to their resume, while NC State hopes to secure a spot in the field of 64, one that probably won't happen if they don't win this game.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Playing five consecutive days in a row can be grueling on an athlete's body, especially when your latest game was one that went into overtime.

In the win over Virginia, NC State knocked down just three of 17 three-point field goals. Could this be due to a bit of tired legs, or did Virginia's defense make it difficult for the Wolfpack throughout from beyond-the-arc?

For the Tar Heels, not only will it be important to control the pace from the onset, but they need to close out on open shooters. This hurt them at times against Pittsburgh, as they definitely don't want NC State's shooters to get going.

If the Tar Heels can control the pace, it will also force Kevin Keatts' hand in regards to the amount of minutes DJ Burns is able to play. The more the Tar Heels can limit his on-court time the better, as Burns provides a dynamic that is clearly missed when he's on the bench.

Something to Watch For

Elliot Cadeau struggled on Friday night, knocking down just two of his 9 shot attempts. Hubert Davis elected to play Seth Trimble 24 minutes, which was four more than his starting freshman guard.

Trimble was called upon for defensive purposes, as the Tar Heels looked for ways to slow down the Panthers' backcourt freshmen duo. Given that DJ Horne and Jayden Taylor had some success in the latest meeting between the Tar Heels and the Wolfpack, is this something we could see more of on Saturday night?

With the way Trimble has been playing, he definitely has earned his minutes.

Last Meeting

The UNC basketball program defeated NC State twice during the regular season, with the latest occurring on March 2 in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina pulled away with a 79-70 win in front of the Dean Smith Center crowd. The Tar Heels had four players in double-figures, including Harrison Ingram, who scored a game-high 22 points. Elliot Cadeau (15 points, seven assists), RJ Davis (14 points, seven rebounds, five assists) and Armando Bacot (13 points, seven rebounds) all contributed in multiple ways in the victory.

Projected Starters

No. 2 Elliot Cadeau (Fr. 6-1, 180) 7.7 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 4.1 apg
No. 3 Cormac Ryan (Sr. 6-5, 195) 10.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 4 R.J. Davis (Sr. 6-0, 180) 21.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.5 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Gr. 6-11, 240) 14.0 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg
No. 55 Harrison Ingram (Jr. 6-7, 235) 12.5 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 2.2 apg