UNC Women's Basketball begins tough two-game stretch with a rematch against NC State

Courtney Banghart and the UNC women's basketball program will look to earn some revenge as they host NC State in a rematch from a few weeks ago.

2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina
2023 Invesco QQQ Basketball Hall of Fame Women's Showcase - Connecticut v North Carolina / G Fiume/GettyImages

There might not be a team in the country with a tougher two-game stretch than the UNC women's basketball program is set to face over the next four days.

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The first challenge comes in the form of No. 6-ranked NC State, a team that has been one of the best in the country. NC State got the better of North Carolina on February 1 when the two programs met in Raleigh, as the Tar Heels fought but fell just short in a four-point loss.

Now, the Tar Heels aim for revenge, as they host the Wolfpack before heading to Blacksburg, Virginia for a rematch with the Virginia Tech Hokies. Before North Carolina hits the road, they need to take care of business on Thursday night, a game that the Tar Heels certainly need to win.

Key to Victory for North Carolina

It is vital that the Tar Heels protect the basketball.

In the win over Wake Forest on Sunday, the UNC women's basketball program turned the ball over 24 times. That's the most in a single-game during the Courtney Banghart era, as this is something that must be quickly improved.

Of course, you have to factor in the injuries, as three of the Tar Heels primary ball handlers are all sidelined due to injury. However, even if Reniya Kelly and Paulina Paris miss Thursday night's game, it's up to the players on the court to not turn the ball over.

They got away with it against Wake Forest, but turnovers will definitely come back to haunt them against NC State.

Something to Watch For

In the first meeting, neither team shot the ball well from deep.

North Carolina made just four of 17 attempts from beyond-the-arc, while NC State connected on just three of 16 attempts.

The difference in the first meeting was the free throw line attempts, as the Wolfpack took 11 more free throws than the Tar Heels and knocked down the majority of them.

If the three point shots aren't falling, which team will make the adjustment to put the emphasis more on driving to the basket? North Carolina may already game plan this way, especially given that they aren't a strong three-point shooting team.

Can the likes of Maria Gakdeng and Alyssa Ustby cause foul trouble for the opposing Wolfpack, and can the Tar Heels earn more opportunities at the free throw line in the rematch?

Just five attempts like the first meeting will not cut it.

Projected Starters

No. 1 Alyssa Ustby (Sr. 6-1) 12.1 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 3.6 apg
No. 5 Maria Gakdeng (Jr. 6-3) 9.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 0.5 apg
No. 20 Lexi Donarski (Gr. 6-0) 10.3 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.3 apg
No. 25 Deja Kelly (Sr. 5-8) 17.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.1 apg
No. 31 Anya Poole (Sr. 6-2) 2.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.4 apg