1. North Carolina [26-3] vs. 9. Clemson [16-14]
Regular Season Meetings: North Carolina 77, (at) Clemson 58, Jan. 19; (at) North Carolina 88, Clemson 56, Feb. 19.
Leading Scorers: Rashad McCants, UNC, 23; Jawad Williams, UNC, 17.
Leading Rebounders: Raymond Felton, UNC, 10; Sean May, UNC, 13.
Records in ACC tournament: North Carolina 75-35; Clemson 14-51.
Vs. each other in ACC tournament: North Carolina leads, 12-1.
Back courts: One of Clemson's biggest challenges will be handling North Carolina's pressure with a young group of guards. If Rashad McCants plays today -- he practiced Wednesday after missing the previous four games with an intestinal disorder -- it will give the Tar Heels yet another weapon. In the first meeting, Clemson's guards struggled mightily . Clemson is playing better now, having won five of its last seven games, but it's a tall order to expect sophomore Vernon Hamilton and freshman Cliff Hammonds to be able to contend with Carolina's talent. Tar Heels point guard Raymond Felton is considered by some league coaches the ACC's fastest guard.
Front courts: Sharrod Ford must handle considerable responsibility against Carolina's formidable and versatile front court. The senior has played well in the past against the Tar Heels. In eight games against North Carolina, six as a starter, he has averaged 10 points and six rebounds, while making 35 of 56 shots. He had 27 points and 15 rebounds in two meetings with Carolina's Sean May this season. May and Ford rank second and fourth, respectively, in rebounding in the ACC this season. Maryland Coach Gary Williams said May has the best hands of any big man in the ACC. The fact that Carolina can bring Marvin Williams, an agile 18-year-old freshman, off the bench with success speaks volumes about the Tar Heels' depth.
Coaching/Intangibles: Clemson wouldn't figure to have much of a chance today. After all, the Tigers lost to North Carolina by 19 and 32 points this season. Clemson has won only one of 13 previous meetings in the ACC tournament against North Carolina. That victory came in the first round in 1996, when the Tigers won, 75-73, after Greg Buckner dunked the ball at the buzzer. That 1996 Clemson team advanced to the NCAAs; this year's team is likely headed to the National Invitation Tournament.
-- Eric Prisbell