UNC Basketball vs. Portland game preview, info, prediction and more

The North Carolina Tar Heels are heading out West for Thanksgiving.

UNC is one of 16 teams heading to Portland to play in two separate tournaments that honor Nike co-founder Phil Knight. The Tar Heels are one of 8 teams in the PKI portion of the tournament and will open up play Thursday against Portland.

Like the event back in 2017, this year’s is stacked with a lot of good teams and top talent. The Tar Heels will certainly be tested this week after going 4-0 in the first two weeks of non-conference play. And the competition gets tougher moving forward.

First up this week for UNC are the Portland Pilots. The Pilots are technically the host team in the tournament and enter this game at 4-2 on the early season, but their toughest test awaits in the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels who are looking to make quick work of the Pilots and advance on in the tournament.

The Pilots are led by junior guard Tyler Robertson who is averaging 17.5 points per game so far. Moses Wood is averaging 13.8 points while Kristian Sjolund is at 12.2 per game. One area the Pilots might be able to hang with UNC is on the boards. 

So far, the Pilots are averaging 37.2 rebounds per game compared to UNC’s 38 per game. This has been a problem for UNC so far this season and it’s unusual to see them getting out-rebounded by another team.

Let’s get into our game preview.

Key to Victory

Just play your game. It’s that simple for the Tar Heels and they really don’t have to make it complicated. UNC is the better team in this matchup and should win this opening game.

But they can’t look ahead and get too complacent on Thursday. Not letting the Pilots hang around early and instead putting them away will be a big key for them.

The Tar Heels are a very talented team, as we already know, and getting off to that fast start should be something we expect. This year the Tar Heels have started off sluggish in a few games before turning it around with strong second halves to get wins.

Let’s see a complete game from start to finish on Thursday.

 

Something to watch

Three-point shooting. The Tar Heels have struggled at times to shoot the ball from the three-point line this year so far.

As a team, they are shooting 28.7% from the three-point line which is 30th in the country. I don’t think that will be the case all year long as its only been four games but now is a good time to change things.

What you need to know

WHAT? No. 1 North Carolina (4-0) vs. Portland (4-2)
WHEN? Sunday,  Nov. 24th, NOON ET
WHERE? Moda Center in Portland, Oregon
TV? ESPN (Watch and stream the game live on ESPN+)
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
LINE? N/A
LAST MEETING? 2017. UNC 102, Portland 78
ALL-TIME SERIES? UNC leads 1-0
PREDICTION? UNC 100, Portland 76

Story originally appeared on Tarheels Wire