According to the dictionary hate can be emotional extreme dislike for another whether it is an individual or an entity. Hate would be a word I would use to describe how NC State fans feel about North Carolina. If you do not believe stroll over to packpride.com and just check out the message boards for a few minutes and if that doesn’t convince you drive over to PNC Arena Saturday wearing all light blue. Now as for North Carolina fans I am leery of using the word hate to describe how they feel toward the Wolfpack. Depending on when you began following the Tar Heels may dictate the emotions you conjure up when the Wolfpack is near. With the intensity a high level of play many UNC fans turn to Duke as the rival they desperately want to beat, but as I grew up the NC State game had just as much passion or vile as any game played in Durham. Regardless of what emotion elicits from your mind this Saturday one thing is clear: North Carolina fans do not want to lose to NC State.
In 1946 NC State Hired Everett Case to coach it’s basketball team. Case won his first game against North Carolina and compiled a record of 377-134. More important than securing the most wins of any NC State basketball coach was his record against the Tar Heels. Case finished with a 25- 19 record making him the only mens basketball coach to have a winning record when facing North Carolina. Case also brought to the triangle the highest levels of collegiate basketball with the Dixie Classic. The Classic featured the ACC big four Duke, NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forrest playing against some of the best programs in college basketball.
A rivalry in my opinion is a series of events where both fan bases have moments that can boast about their team, where friendships end for the 2 hours they play and can even go into a spell where they won’t even speak for a time period after a game. This is what Cases teams did during his time at NC State. They were not just competitive because there were times when they owned North Carolina. In the 1950s NC State went 18-10 versus North Carolina and that is the most wins in one decade for NC State. The next best series of games NC State had was in the 1970s where they compiled a 13-17 record against the Tar Heels. Although the Everett Case era did not yield any NCAA championships the Wolfpack did win four of their 10 ACC Tournament Championships.
The 1970s and 1980s NC State teams between Coach Norm Sloan and Coach Jimmy Valvano own the most notable teams for their NCAA championship wins in 1974 and 1983. Norm Sloan coached the most notorious player in NC State history in David Thompson. In March you cannot turn on the NCAA tournament without seeing Coach Valvano better known as “Jimmy V” running around looking for someone to hug. For all their success during both of these coach’s tenures in Raleigh their record against North Carolina and Coach Dean Smith was 19-44 (Valvano 6-18 and Sloan 13-26). The much maligned Herb Sendek won one fewer game against UNC than Valvano with 5-17 record. The most ridiculous resume of all the NC State coaches was Les Robison who managed to win 5 out of 12 games in his tenure.
Coach Dean Smith is revered by North Carolina fans and loathed by NC State fans. With a 60-30 record it is fair to say the “Dean” was the one giving the lessons while he was in charge of the North Carolina program. Of course any State fan reading this will say he definitely cheated and Lenny Wirtz was on the take, but even that makes this rivalry between fans great. What has been lacking in the five years before Mark Gottfried was good basketball on the part of the Wolfpack as the Sydney Lowe era took NC State from consecutive tournament appearances to five consecutive tournament absences.
There is no love lost between the two fan bases despite the 1990s and the Sydney Lowe era NC State has experienced ACC and NCAA success. In an era where the ACC appears to be down Coach Mark Gottfried has a chance to reclaim the fire between the city of Raleigh and Chapel Hill. It will not even take a bunch of wins to do it. He only needs to play the Heels close, and steal a win here and there. Mark Gottfried has NC State off to a 15-3 record and 4-1 in the ACC with a home victory over top ranked Duke.
Roy Williams has owned NC State since his return to Chapel Hill. With an 18-1 record against the Wolfpack and his team playing better the Tar Heels are going to give NC State everything they can to try and steal a win on the road. If North Carolina can steal a road win at NC State the young Tar Heels confidence will take another step forward and with games versus VT, Wake forest and BC following the tar heels could be 7-2 with a rematch against Miami. On the other hand NC State fans will not be appreciative if the Wolfpack who were ranked ahead of the Tar Heels in pre season for the first time since 1984/1985 do not take care of business Saturday night.