UNC Basketball opens Phil Knight Invitational against Portland

The UNC basketball program will be quite busy on Thanksgiving Day as they take on Portland in the first round of the Phil Knight Invitational.

Hubert Davis and the UNC basketball program will take their first real road test of the 2022-2023 season, taking on Portland in the opening round of the Phil Knight Invitational.

There’s no better way to spend your Thanksgiving than with great food, great company, and of course Carolina basketball!

The Tar Heels will face some good opponents throughout this tournament as they will attempt to beat the host team in their opener to advance to the winners group.

This is when the schedule gets busier for North Carolina as they will play four games over the next week, all of which are underway. Before we look any further, what do the Tar Heels have to do to get a Thanksgiving win?

Key to victory

Armando Bacot is key to victory for the Tar Heels as they need him to get going early.

When Bacot is in his game, the UNC basketball program is playing at a higher level. If he can dominate from the start (as he did in the win against James Madison), North Carolina has a very good chance of winning this game.

If Portland decides to focus on the big man of the Tar Heels, the likes of Caleb Love and RJ Davis will have to shoot the basketball efficiently. With the focus on Bacot, the backcourt duo have plenty of open-eyed opportunities, which could help get both players on track from outside the arc.

Bacot asserted his dominance against James Madison as he looked like the preseason All-American player we all know he can be. The hope is that he will continue to follow up that strong performance with more big games in the future.

Something to watch

Will Hubert Davis’ rotation increase as the schedule gets busier?

North Carolina will play five games over the next 11 calendar days. Prior to this, the UNC basketball program played no more than two games in one week.

Also remember: the Tar Heels opened the season with a four-game homestand, while they’re on their way for the next five games.

The starters have already logged quite a few minutes this season as they have all averaged more than 30 minutes per game. Will Davis rely on his typical rotation, or will he expand it with a few more players?

In this case, and with the big picture in mind, it might make sense to try and give the first five a little rest to keep them fresh.

Last match

On November 23, 2017, the No. 10 ranked Tar Heels defeated the Pilots by a score of 102-78. Luke Maye led the way with a double-double performance (20 points, 10 rebounds), while four other players scored in double figures.

Joel Berry contributed 18 points, while Kenny Williams added 17 himself. Theo Pinson had 11 points and 7 assists, while Andrew Platek scored 12 points in just 10 minutes of action.

Projected starters

No. 4 RJ Davis (Jr., 6-0, 175) – 15.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.0 apg
No. 2 Caleb Love (Jr., 6-4, 200) – 17.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.3 apg
No. 1 Leaky Black (Gr., 6-9 205) – 8.5 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 0.8 apg
No. 32 Pete Nance (Gr. 6-11, 230) – 10.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.8 apg
No. 5 Armando Bacot (Sr., 6-11, 235) – 18.3 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.5 bpg

What you need to know

WHAT? North Carolina Tar Heels (4-0) vs. Portland Pilots (4-0)
WHEN? Thursday, November 24, 2022 at 1:00 PM EST
WHERE? Fashion center in Portland, Oregon
TV? ESPN
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
LINE? UNC
LAST MEETING? UNC defeated Portland 102-78 on November 23, 2017
ALL SERIES? UNC leads the series 1-0
FORECAST? UNC 94, Portland 78

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