Connecticut Huskies vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 5th 2023

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There’s no doubt No. 5 UConn and No. 9 North Carolina have been tested in the first month of the season.

Another exam awaits Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of the Jimmy V Classic, when the Tar Heels and Huskies square off as part of a doubleheader of Top 25 matchups.

Florida Atlantic and Illinois are meeting in the other game on Tuesday.

UConn (7-1), the defending national champion, lost 69-65 on the road to No. 5 Kansas on Friday night.

The Huskies saw their 13-game winning streak dating back to last season come to a halt, but the experience likely was worthwhile.

“Wish we would have played better but credit their team for that,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “But I do think that this year’s team has a chance to be as good as last year’s team when we’re fully healthy.”

North Carolina (7-1) is off to its best eight-game record in six years, although the Tar Heels needed to rally from 14 points down in the second half to beat visiting Florida State 78-70 on Saturday in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener.

“It just shows how good we can be and if we’re all locked in we can be a really good team,” North Carolina freshman guard Elliot Cadeau said.

The Tar Heels are trying to recover from an underachieving 2022-23 season, which began with them holding a No. 1 ranking and ended without an NCAA Tournament bid.

“This is this year’s team,” coach Hubert Davis said. “I’m not thinking about my first year or my second year. We have seven new players on this year’s team. I don’t think anyone is thinking about last year. I think all of us are thinking about this team and this year. We always talk about what’s in front of us and what’s real.”

Depending on how the new rankings shake out this week, the Tar Heels should be bidding for their second victory over a Top 10 team in less than a week. They posted a 100-92 win over then No. 10 Tennessee last week.

There should be no shortage of confidence when North Carolina arrives in New York.

“This is a new year, a new team,” guard RJ Davis said. “We have a great group of guys that came here to contribute and to win some games.”

Davis has recorded 27 or more points in three consecutive games, something a North Carolina player hadn’t done since Joseph Forte in 2001.

Coach Davis said he has sensed upgrades from his team in recent weeks.

“The thing that we struggled with last year was down the stretch being able to make the discipline and the details, the free throw, the box out, not to turn the ball over, get the loose ball,” he said.

UConn guard Tristen Newton racked up 31 points in the Kansas game.

“Tristen carried us,” Hurley said. “Tristen played like that was a virtuoso performance.”

The Huskies and Tar Heels are meeting for the first time since 2005.

“I know our team and our UConn fanbase are thrilled to be coming to Madison Square Garden to compete against one of the most storied programs in college basketball,” Huskies coach Dan Hurley said.

–Field Level Media

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