North Carolina coach Roy Williams felt his team was lucky to reach the ACC tournament semifinals. It could mean bad luck for Clemson.
The sixth-ranked Tar Heels have won 84 of 88 meetings with the Tigers within the state of North Carolina heading into Saturday's matchup at the Greensboro Coliseum.
North Carolina (25-6) advanced by rallying from 19 points down in the second half for a 61-59 win over Miami on Friday. Tyler Zeller's layup at the buzzer off a feed from Kendall Marshall gave the Tar Heels their only lead of the game and their eighth straight victory.
"We feel as lucky as we can possibly be," Williams said. "Those kinds of things happen in tournament time."
Clemson (21-10), meanwhile, advanced with a 70-47 rout of Boston College. Demontez Stitt scored 20 points for the Tigers, who are trying to boost their chances of an NCAA tournament at-large berth.
There's little doubt the Tigers would have preferred a semifinal meeting with the Hurricanes. Clemson has dropped 12 of its last 13 meetings with the Tar Heels, including two this season.
The fourth-seeded Tigers are 0-18 against the top seed in the history of the tournament. They have won four of five and believe that a win Saturday won't be needed to reach the NCAAs.
"I would think we made a pretty good showing again today," coach Brad Brownell said. "We beat another very good team, and we beat them well, and we played well to do it. Now we're going to try to take on one of the top teams in the country and give them a good game and see if we can't find a way to win."
The Tar Heels were listless through most of their contest before notching their biggest second-half comeback since rallying from 21 down against Florida State in 1993. The first half was so bad that Williams subbed in five walk-ons for his top players at the 12:15 mark.
"Again, you can send messages but if you send messages, people have to receive it," he said. "Our guys received it, it just took longer to settle in probably."
Harrison Barnes scored 18 points to lead North Carolina and fellow freshman Marshall contributed 10 assists. The Tar Heels outscored the Hurricanes 27-6 over the final 9:52.
"This will definitely help us," Marshall said. "We realize that we have more goals this season that we want to accomplish."
There were no heroics needed for Clemson, which limited Boston College to 34.0 percent shooting. The Tigers had lost six straight in the postseason.
"I think this is one of the best teams that we've had," Stitt said. "Guys are really pulling for each other, guys are a lot closer on and off the court."
The Tar Heels are seeking their 15th ACC tournament championship game appearance in the last 25 years. They have won 17 titles.
The Tigers are the only original ACC team never to win the tournament. They are 17-57 in the event and have reached the championship twice - 1962 and 2008.