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CBB North Carolina at Clemson

January 17, 2007

College Basketball - North Carolina Tarheels (-4, 156) at Clemson Tigers 7:00 PM EST

Two ACC teams off disappointing losses this past weekend come face to face to see who will blink again in the best game on the college basketball schedule tonight. North Carolina was down 22 points at Virginia Tech in the second half before making furious rally to crawl within three points before losing 94-88. Clemson was the nation's last undefeated team and played the wrong team at the wrong time in losing to Maryland, 92-87.

The 4th-ranked Tar Heels, despite the loss, are not only talented, they are deep. The North Carolina stats page shows ten different players averaging at least 12 minutes a game and no player on the hardwood for better then 30 minutes a contest. The player spending the most time on the floor is of course the best one, center Tyler Hansbrough. Coach Roy Williams is a big proponent of pressure defense as evidence by North Carolina allowing only 40.4% shooting. In recent loss to the Hokies, for only the third time all season an opposing team shot better then 50 percent (VT 52.6%) and it again cost the North Carolina a loss as did earlier game to Gonzaga. Nothing wrong with the offense as they continue to be among the best shooting teams in the country at 50.1%, knocking down the three point shot at 37.4%, this all adding up to the second best offense in the nation at 88.1 points a game.

Clemson's 17-0 start, which matched the best ever in school history, has created a buzz around the campus. Clemson students set up 145 tents outside the Littlejohn Coliseum ticket office Monday night to get seats for tonight's match-up. Much like North Carolina, the Tigers did not bring the same defensive intensity on the road as they were torched for 62.7% by hot shooting Maryland. While the coaches and players will deny it, the strains of the winning streak may have been taking their toll as this was the third consecutive opponent to shoot better then 54 percent against Clemson. Now the weight of greater expectations will have to carried by the Tigers who are led by F James Mays and instant offense, super soph K..C. Rivers who is the team's leading scorer off the bench. Clemson averages 78.4 PPG while making 48 percent from the field.

Clemson will not only be looking to win a game, but national respect. Oddsmakers like sportsbook.com have tabbed them as 4-point home underdogs. The biggest reason is history. North Carolina leads the all-time series 117-19 and has won five in a row over Clemson. The Tar Heels have a propensity to bounce back with 21-9 ATS record after a loss by 6 points or less.

For the Tigers it is about resolve, they are perfect 10-0 at home but 3-6 ATS. The good news is they are 8-1 ATS of a loss in most recent situations. For many years Clemson scheduled weak opponents early and faded as the ACC season took its toll. Coach Oliver Purnell is well aware of this and has to make sure his Tigers do a better job then 7-19 ATS mark versus good 3 point shooting teams - making >=37% of their attempts after 15+ games in all games he has coached since 1997.

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