Pitt is set to face ACC rival North Carolina on Wednesday night in Chapel Hill, but the Panthers will be met with a very different Tar Heels team than they’ve played in the past. North Carolina will enter the matchup at 8-6 overall and 1-2 in conference due in part to the absence of star freshman and one-time Pitt target Cole Anthony, and the guard is likely to miss Wednesday’s matchup as well, according to Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams.
”Cole is three weeks today,” Williams said on Tuesday, per Ross Martin of Inside Carolina. “He was in the weight room today. ... He’s working extremely hard. We’re still thinking in that range, four to six weeks, and we’re not going to push him back out there early by any means. We’re going to wait until he feels great about it, and [strength and conditioning coach] Jonas [Sahratian] and [athletic trainer] Doug [Halverson] feel great about it.”
For reference, North Carolina had seven losses and two losses in conference at the end of last season, and this is the first time the Southern juggernaut has accrued six losses by Jan. 8 since the 2001-02 season, when Matt Doherty was the team’s coach and current Pitt assistant Jason Capel was the Tar Heels starting power forward. Of course, Anthony’s absence alone is not at fault for the team’s current state, as the Tar Heels have been plagued by a variety of injuries affecting multiple players.
Seven North Carolina players have been forced out of action by injury this season, and they have missed a total of 43 games. The list includes Leaky Black, Jeremiah Francis, Anthony Harris, Sterling Manley, Andrew Platek and Brandon Robinson in addition to Anthony. Anthony, Harris and Manley all underwent knee surgery in the past month. Harris and Manley are out for the season, and Platek missed the team’s last two games with a left ankle injury and could miss the Pitt game as well.
While Anthony is expected to sit out Pitt's trip to Chapel Hill, he could be back in time for his team's visit to the Petersen Events Center on Jan. 18. Tipoff for Wednesday's game at the Dean Dome is set for 7 p.m. ET.