The North Carolina Tar Heels men’s basketball program returns Friday in the winners division of the Phil Knight Invitational. And after surviving a scare against Portland, the test gets a little tougher.

Next up for the Tar Heels is Iowa State, fresh off a win over Villanova in overtime.

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The Cyclones improved to 4-0 by defeating the Wildcats and held the lead for most of the second half before going into overtime. They got the job done in the extra session and will now face their toughest test yet in No. 1 North Carolina must face.

UNC used a late run in the second half to avoid getting upset by Portland as the pilots gave the Tar Heels everything they could handle. It was a back and forth until UNC was able to pull away late thanks to play by Pete Nance and Caleb Love.

Iowa State is led by guard Jaren Holmes, who is averaging 16.8 points per game this season. He’ll be someone who can give UNC backcourt seizures if they’re not careful. Where the Cyclones can have an advantage is on the boards. They go into this game averaging 40 rebounds per game, two more than UNC this season. Let’s see if Armando Bacot and Pete Nance can limit the rebound in this case.

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – OCTOBER 28: Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels battles Nilous Hodge #21 of the Johnson C. Smith Golden Bulls for a rebound during the second half of their game October 28 at the Dean E. Smith Center 2022 in Chapel Hill, NC. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

rebound. I mentioned it above, but the Tar Heels have to win the rebound fight in this case. So far this season, UNC hasn’t been the team we’re used to in terms of rebounds, but it hasn’t cost them a game yet.

This is by far the best team UNC have faced all season and if they lose the rebound fight it could result in defeat.

11/24/2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward Pete Nance (32) shoots a second-half basket against Portland Pilots guard Juan Sebastian Gorosito (4) at the Moda Center. The Tar Heels won the game 89-81. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Can UNC avoid the slow start again? This has been a common theme for the Tar Heels so far this year. They’ve started slow in every game this year, including Thursday when they let Portland back into the game with an early run.

You can’t mess around and fall behind a lot this early. Iowa State will keep the pressure up and can score, making it harder for them to come back.

WHAT? No. 1 North Carolina (5-0) vs. Iowa State (4-0)
IF? Friday, 25. November5:30 p.m. ET
WHERE? Veterans Memorial Coliseum Portland, Oregon
TV? ESPN (Watch and stream the game live on ESPN+)
RADIO? Tar Heels Sports Network
FORECAST? UNC 77, State of Iowa 75