On Thursday night, UNC will be squaring off with the N.C. State Wolfpack at home. State is currently second in the ACC (Tar Heels are fourth), and look to be a much stronger team than they were in years past. The Wolfpack have the eighth highest assists per game in the nation (17.4), a strong outside marksman in Scott Wood, a power forward that rips 9.4 rebounds per game and a point guard that averages 2.3 assists for every turnover. Now—these are pretty good numbers. They’re not anything to shake your head at.
On the flip side, the Tar Heels average the highest points per game in the nation (85.1), highest rebounds per game in the nation (46.3), fifth-highest assists per game in the nation (18.4), two players who average 10+ rebounds per outing and a point guard who averages 3.3 assists per turnover.
Advantage Tar Heels.
Now, I went to school in Wilmington and had many, many friends of mine from the Raleigh area. They were die hard Wolfpack fans. At the beginning of every college football season or basketball season, there were boasts of how it’s going to be the Wolfpack’s year. It never happened. It was always so-so. State fans consistently believe themselves to be the biggest rival the Tar Heels have on their schedule. Now, UNC fans who have actually watched a UNC-Dook match up know this is a complete fabrication and that the real rival up the road wears dark blue.
To me, State fans are the first cousins at the annual family softball game. They always believe they can hang with the big, competitive, brothers who smack home runs. Normally the little cousin hits a single, and strikes out every time at bat after that. Then they talk about how they could have had a double if they really wanted to after all. They just didn’t feel like it at the time. N.C. State fans, the metaphorical little cousin, proceed to talk trash for the next 364 days to the brothers about how they can’t wait to get another shot at the plate.
I’ll admit it, little cousin has gotten a bit better this year—but I’m not worried. They’ll never be one of the big brothers or come even close to beating them.
Even if they do hit a double this time around, let ‘em have their moment in the sun. Pat N.C. State fans on the back next time you see one and tell them how proud you are of them and their team; sit back and watch their faces will light up light like Christmas. They just try so darn hard.