UNC Basketball: Previewing NC State


The North Carolina Tar Heels look for their fourth straight win against in state rival NC State on Saturday when they travel to Raleigh to face off against the Wolfpack.

March 10, 2012; Atlanta, GA USA; North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Michael McAdoo (43) shoots against North Carolina State Wolfpack center DeShawn Painter (0) during the second half of the semi-finals of the 2012 ACC Men

NC State is coming off a series of two bad losses in the last three games after defeating Duke.  First they were held to just 51 points in a loss to Maryland, then they lost to a bad Wake Forest team to which they owned a 12 point half time lead.  To make matters worse, NC State had a bit of a twitter meltdown when former center Thomas DeThaey expressed his frustrations with the program by tweeting  “That’s what happens when you’re a great recruiter but a terrible coach!”  Now that wouldn’t be so bad if freshman TJ Warren hadn’t of retweeted DeThaey oh and Rick Lewis father of freshman Tyler Lewis favorited the tweet.  Wow is all I have to say about that, in a matter of 12 days NC State went from a program on the rise at 14-2 and 3-0 in the conference coming off a win over Duke to a 15-4, 4-2

Conversely the Tar Heels are riding a three game winning streak after dropping their first two ACC games.  Suddenly after hearing NIT chatter when the team was just 12-5 and 0-2 in the conference the talk has turned to if UNC could find themselves back in the national rankings with a win against the Wolfpack.  Oh how times have changed, told you this season would be fun no matter how bad it looked at times.

In terms of history it’s laughable to even call this a rivalry, that would imply that both sides have experienced some sort of success which is simply not true here, Carolina has dominated State since well, forever.  Take a look at how the series breaks down by decade.

  • 1920s: North Carolina:17; NC State:3
  • 1930s: North Carolina:16; NC State:6
  • 1940s: North Carolina:13; NC State:10
  • 1950s: NC State: 18 North Carolina:10
  • 1960s: North Carolina:18 NC State:4
  • 1970s: North Carolina:17; NC State:13
  • 1980s: North Carolina:18; NC State:7
  • 1990s: North Carolina:15; NC State:7
  • 2000s: North Carolina:16; NC State:5
  • 2010s: North Carolina:7; NC State:0
  • North Carolina: 147; NC State: 75

UNC coach Roy Williams is 23-1 in his career against NC State 18-1 as coach of the Tar Heels, Mark Gottfried is 0-3 lifetime and the coach before him Sidney Lowe was just 1-10.  Last season was entertaining with UNC winning the last match up 86-74 behind a career night from Kendall Marshall who scored 22 points with 13 assists.  In their first match up of the year last season Scott Wood made an idiot of himself by comparing the feeling of the loss to UNC as being cheated on by his wife, even though he’s never been married or engaged in his life.  Burying himself further he followed that up by saying the loss was 90% State not playing well and 10% UNC.  Only to lose the very next game by 12 points.

Outside of Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie this team is not very good on the boards ranking 103rd in the nation with just 36.8 rpg.  UNC will need to dictate tempo by dominating the boards and getting out on the break early and often.  State has a lot of good athletes complemented by some good shooters and a fantastic freshman point guard in Rodney Purvis.  State has actually passed Carolina in the scoring department holding a slight half point edge (79.2 to 78.7) with five players who average double figures not to mention Purvis who is very close at 9.9 per game.

State will challenge Carolina bigs James Michael McAdoo, Desmond Hubert, Joel James and Brice Johnson in the post, UNC will have to be careful not to collapse the half court defense too much and leave shooters like Scott Wood, Purvis and T.J. Warren.

Talent wise these teams are pretty evenly matched, if you would have asked me two weeks ago I would have told you that State had a clear advantage as the more seasoned group that can play through adversity and play to their strengths better than the young Tar Heels.  Since watching the former preseason favorites lose to Maryland and Wake Forest and meltdown on twitter I’m not so sure about that statement.  Make no mistake, both teams will come into this game ready to play, State needs to right the ship while Carolina needs to make a bid to get back into the national rankings it should be a good one on Saturday.

Prediction: UNC gets out to an early lead as State cannot shake off their bad loss to Wake, the Wolfpack make a comeback only for the Heels to put on a late run to seal the win.  UNC 72 NC State 67