The North Carolina Tar Heels, currently ranked 3rd in the nation, travel to Tallahassee on Saturday for a rematch against the Florida State Seminoles in ACC play. Tip-off is set for 2 PM EST on ESPN.

The 16-3 Tar Heels sit atop the ACC with a flawless 8-0 record in conference games, winning by double-digits against every opponent except Florida State. The 12-7 Seminoles exceeded preseason expectations with six wins in their last seven, firmly planting themselves in second place in the ACC after being picked to finish near the bottom.

In their first meeting in December, a back-and-forth affair saw North Carolina eventually prevail 78-70 behind 27 points from senior guard R.J. Davis. However, Florida State covered the spread in the loss, providing bettors a bit of value.

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Davis continued his stellar campaign with a career-high 36 points last time out to bolster his Wooden Award candidacy. Meanwhile, forward Armando Bacot recorded his customary double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds. Their contributions helped the Heels overcome a 14-point hole by unleashing a full-court press leading to a 22-0 barrage.

That furious rally highlighted North Carolina’s dominance over the past month, riding a nine-game winning streak since mid-December. Their only three losses came against current top-10 teams Villanova, UConn, and Kentucky – with the Connecticut and Kentucky showdowns going to overtime.

That gauntlet of games prepared the battle-tested Tar Heels for ACC domination. Their lockdown perimeter defense clamping down on the 3-point arc, an area Florida State exploited in the first meeting.

For the Seminoles to notch the upset, they’ll need increased production from junior guard Darin Green Jr., one of the ACC’s best deep threats hitting nearly 40% from distance. Green along with forward Jamir Watkins, the team’s leading scorer, paced Florida State offensively against North Carolina last time out and will need repeat efforts.

Additionally, Florida State must sure up their interior defense. North Carolina lived at the free throw line last game, attempting 31 foul shots. Better protecting the paint against Bacot down low is imperative to stay within striking distance.

In the end, North Carolina’s length and athleticism combined with battle-tested resilience makes picking outright upset unlikely. However, expect a inspired effort from the home team.

Prediction: Take Florida State +7 with the points in a close loss in front of an erupting Tucker Center crowd hungry to watch their overachieving squad nearly take down the giants from Chapel Hill.

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✅ Fact Checked on January 27, 2024 by Ken Weaver