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By John Falduto

Clemson (10-3, 18-6) travels to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina (7-6, 15-9) on Saturday afternoon with both teams in desperate need of a win to stay in the NCAA Tournament picture.

The Tigers, losers of two straight and now part of a three-way tie for first place in the ACC with Pitt and Virginia, fell to a No. 11 seed in ESPN analyst Joe Lunardi’s latest edition of “Bracketology” after being as high as a 7-seed in late January. Lunardi’s projections now consider the Tar Heels, once the odds-on favorites to win the National Championship in the preseason, as one of the “Last Four In” following three straight losses to Pitt, Duke, and Wake Forest.

Saturday’s contest with North Carolina will be the first in-game action for Brad Brownell’s Tigers since last Saturday’s 78-74 loss to Miami, a game in which Clemson was outrebounded 38-28, including 9-2 on the offensive glass.

“The only thing I’ve been disappointed in my team about this year is our guys are not aggressive enough offensive rebounding,” said Brownell after the loss. “We have a lot of really nice kids, and they’re skilled players, but we need a little bit more toughness sometimes.”

Rebounding will again be a focal point for the Tigers on Saturday against a North Carolina team that leads the ACC in total team rebounding (39.8 RPG) and is third in team offensive rebounding (11.1 ORPG), an effort led by 6-10 senior Armando Bacot, whose 11.3 rebounds per game is good for the most in the ACC and fifth-most in the country. Bacot also leads the scoring effort for the Tar Heels with 17.5 PPG, followed by Caleb Love with 16.6 PPG, R.J. Davis with 15.8 PPG, and Pete Nance with 10.6 PPG.

Hunter Tyson, who needs just one point to become the 43rd member of the 1,000-point club in Clemson men’s basketball history, continues to lead the Tigers in scoring with 16.1 PPG, followed by PJ Hall with 14.3 PPG, Chase Hunter with 14.1 PPG and Brevin Galloway with 10.8 PPG.

Clemson is 4-2 in road games against ACC opponents this season, and North Carolina is 5-1 against ACC opponents at home. The Tigers are 1-59 all-time when playing in Chapel Hill, with the lone victory being a 79-76 overtime win in 2020- the last time they played in the Dean E. Smith Center.

Tip-off on Saturday afternoon is slated for 2:00 PM EST, and you can follow along on the Clemson Athletic Network - 105.5/97.5, theroarfm.com/listen or The ROAR App.

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