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Following a four game homestand to open up the season, North Carolina will play their first game away from Chapel Hill in the Phil Knight Invitational on Thursday.

The Tar Heels will square-off against the Portland Pilots, a member of the West Coast Conference, in the opening round of the tournament.

After starting the season 3-0, the Pilots are 1-2 in their last three contests, falling to Seattle 80-68 on Saturday.

Portland won 19 games in 2021-2022, their most in a decade, and return all five starters from Shantay Legan's first season at the helm.

Adding on four transfers and five freshmen gives the Pilots a mix of experience and young talent.

Guard Tyler Robertson is the pilot of the Portland offense, leading the roster in points and assists with 17.5 PPG and 4.33 APG.

6-foot-8 forwards Moses Wood (13.8 points, 7.6 rebounds) and Kristian Sjolund (12.2 points, 4.2 rebounds) are stalwarts in the front-court and will be tasked with shutting down Armando Bacot and Pete Nance.

A concern for the Pilots is the status of guard Mike Meadows, who has missed the last two games due to injury. His 11.3 points, while shooting 53 percent from three-point range, coupled with 4.5 rebounds per contest would go a long way in assisting their backcourt.

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As they face the No. 1 team in the country, they will also face a Tar Heel roster that appears to be headed in the right direction.

North Carolina improved to 4-0 on Sunday against James Madison, holding the nation's second-best scoring offense to 64 points, 41 below their season average.

An inspired Tar Heel team turned in their best performance of the year and finally did the one thing they've been known to do so well: convincingly outrebound their opponent. After UNC-Wilmington and College of Charleston beat North Carolina on the boards, they turned in an unconvincing effort against Gardner-Webb, earning just two more rebounds than the Bulldogs.

The Tar Heels brought down 50 boards to the Dukes' 34, giving them an advantage on both ends of the floor. Armando Bacot recorded a career-high 23 rebounds to go along with 19 points.

Guard R.J. Davis added on a game-high 21 points, while Leaky Black recorded 12 rebounds in a staunch defensive effort.

With North Carolina playing three games in four days over the holiday break, their bench could be relied upon to eat up more minutes than usual.

Freshman Seth Trimble and sophomores D'Marco Dunn and Dontrez Styles can be expected to play a larger role in a game where the Tar Heels should be in control from the opening tip.

A 1:00 p.m. eastern tip-off awaits for North Carolina, who will either play Villanova or Iowa State on Friday.