UNC Basketball Gameday Preview: Tar Heels Take On NC State


I have to admit I’m a whole lot more pumped for an NC State game this time around than any other time in recent memory.  I don’t know what it’s like to have my wife cheat on me, but I can’t wait for Scott Wood to feel that way again.  If your lucky enough to have forgotten, after the last UNC vs State game the NC State guard made maybe the dumbest comment in history.  When asked how the loss felt he asked the reporter if his wife had ever cheated on him.  He then said it feels like that (Wood BTW has never been married, or engaged).  Burying himself further he followed that up by saying the loss was 90% State not playing well and 10% UNC.  Ever since, I’ve been foaming at the mouth waiting on the rematch.  If I’m this pumped, how do you think the Tar Heel players feel?  Game on Scott.

Are you listening Scott Wood?

Coming in, the Tar Heels are winners of three straight and eight of their last nine overall.  State has lost two tough games in a row against Florida State and Duke.  The Wolfpack have played well lately despite the fact that they have lost four of their seven.  State had a brutal stretch of ACC games and lost a few very close games.  At 18-9 overall, 7-5 ACC they are probably better than their record.

I feel like a broken record but this is another must win game for UNC.  The Tar Heels are locked with FSU and Duke atop the conference and they must win out.  The Heels are fighting for the conference regular season title and need to continue building a case for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

What to expect: Expect a dog fight in this one.  State has the home court advantage and have played good teams well lately.  UNC showed a lot of resiliency against Miami and they will likely need some against the Wolfpack.  ACC road games are never easy, Miami proved that, UNC will need to ride through a few likely storms by State in this one.  I think the Heels have really turned a corner and it showed in Miami.  Toughness and leadership is what this team needed most in my opinion.  The team as a whole is playing tougher basketball on both sides of the court and everyone is crashing the boards.  The leadership is coming from both senior Tyler Zeller and now Harrison Barnes.  Barnes has been lighting it up the last couple games and has that look in his eye (more on that later this morning).  I expect him to take over offensively when the Heels need him and for his inspired rebounding and defensive effort to also continue.

I have had to sum it up, I’d say I expect this game to go a whole lot like the Miami game.  NC State will get the lead a few times in a back and forth first half.  Heels go into the break with a slim lead, TH fans a little nervous, State fans a little too excited.  A little more of the same in the second half as State refuses to be put away.  And that’s when I expect Barnes to arrive offensively, the defense to buckle down, and UNC to pull away.

The Heels Must: As always, control the tempo.  State like most of the Heels opponents will try and slow Carolina into a half court game.  UNC did a nice job of containing CJ Leslie last game and winning the rebounding battle.  It’s critical to UNCs game that they not only win the rebounding battle but dominate it against State.  Carolinas offense ignites when they shut the other team off the glass and get out and run.  On the offensive end, this may be one of the best offensive rebounding teams ever.  With the way players like PJ Hairston have been shooting lately, the Heels need to clean up the glass on the offensive also also.

Player of the game and final score predictions: Harrison Barnes continues to play dominate basketball.  He comes through in the second half when UNC needs him after holding them up in the first.  Finishes with 29 pts, 8 rebounds.  Finals Score UNC 79 State 68

A look at the numbers: As I stated above, NC State is better than their record suggests.  While UNC has an advantage in many areas, the margins aren’t nearly as wide as they typically are.  The Heels have a nine point scoring advantage, at 82.6ppg and 1st in the nation, that margin is almost always 13+.  The Tar Heels also have just a +8.8 advantage in the rebounding department.  Again UNC leads the nation at 46rpg and a huge rebounding advantage has become almost expected.  Fourth in the nation in assists at 17.9apg the advantage here is smaller than the others the Heels are used to dominating at just +1.4 for Carolina.  NC State shoots the ball a lot better from the foul line with a +7.8% advantage over UNC.  State also shoots it a little better from down town with a 1.7% advantage.  The numbers favor the Heels, but not by much.

UNC Opponents66.438.669.432.034.411.523.011.714.16.33.321.0
NCSU Opponents67.941.971.534.932.411.021.310.812.96.93.517.7

College Basketball Stats

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