UNC Women's Basketball looks to close out 2023 in style

Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program hope to end 2023 on a good note as they open up ACC play against Clemson.
2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina
2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina / G Fiume/GettyImages

For the last time in 2023, Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program will take the court at Carmichael Arena on New Year's Eve.

8-5. CW. UNC vs. Clemson. 12 PM EST. . 432. Sunday, December 31. 8-4. 441

Conference play gets underway for the Tar Heels on Sunday afternoon as they'll host the Clemson Tigers in hopes of ending the calendar year on a good note while getting off to a hot start against ACC opponents.

Both teams enter this game riding two-game winning streaks. After facing arguably the toughest non-conference schedule in the country, the Tar Heels are coming off back-to-back wins over Western Carolina and Oklahoma, while Clemson recently defeated Air Force and East Tennessee State. The Tigers have previously kicked off ACC play, as they took care of Duke at home back on December 7.

So, what will North Carolina need to do in order to win this game? We break it all down here.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

Clemson has been very successful when their offense is clicking, as they are 8-3 when they score 55 or more points this season.

Fittingly, the UNC women's basketball program comes in allowing just 55.3 points per game to their early season opponents.

For the Tar Heels, the defensive effort will be important, as they must slow down the Tigers' offensive attack, which is led by fifth-year senior forward Amari Robinson.

Something to Watch For

The story of the early season for the UNC women's basketball program has been health, as the Tar Heels have struggled to get to full strength so far during the 2023-2024 season.

Paulina Paris and Teonni Key have missed time but have since returned, while Kayla McPherson and Reniya Kelly have been sidelined recently due to injury. Given the Tar Heels have had some time off over the holiday break, will Courtney Banghart have more options to work with, or will the Tar Heels still be hampered by injuries?

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.3 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.3 apg
No. 2 Paulina Paris (So. 5-9) 6.1 ppg, 1.4 rpg, 1.6 apg
No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 10.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 0.7 apg
No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.2 apg
No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 15.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.6 apg