• Joshua Marlow

Heel Tough Blog: NC State Preview


Todd Melet

After back to back road losses a week ago, Carolina has returned home to play their rival, NC State. On Saturday Carolina got beaten down at Louisville, 72-55 in a game that Roy Williams had to use his NINTH different starting lineup, the most in his time in Chapel Hill. Garrison Brooks and Justin Pierce weren't available, and their status is currently unknown at this time for this game.


The last time Carolina won, came at NC State back in January. The 75-65 road win at the time got Carolina to an even 10-10, and with the return of Cole Anthony nearing, the season appeared to be on the up tick. Anthony did in fact return in the next game, a home loss to Boston College, in what was the first of now 7 consecutive losses. In that game, the Tar Heels bullied the Wolfpack on the backboards, a common theme in the rivalry.


This game means a lot more to the Wolfpack, than it does for the Tar Heels. At 17-10 ( 8-8 ), Kevin Keatts has his team playing for the right to compete in the NCAA tournament next month. CJ Bryce is the leading scorer for the Wolfpack, at 13.2 points per contest. When this team is playing at it's best, Markel Johnson is playing at an All-ACC level.He averages over 13 points per game, and is the leading assist man, at over 6 per game. State isn’t a great free throw shooting team, at only 70.7%, and they struggle from behind the three point line at 32.4%. They are going to cause problems with their press defense, and they are more than capable of defending the half court. State can’t afford a loss tonight if they want to feel great about their tournament standing, so expect a fired up Wolfpack team tonight in the Smith Center.


Roy Williams has owned NC State ever since he became a head coach, and that has continued even this season. Carolina is only playing for pride at this point, and to end a long home losing streak. And to start building for next year ( not something we’re used to around here ), with many players going to be back next season, they need to start showing signs of progress. The formula to beating the Pack, is the same as it was last month, but here are 3 things Carolina will need to do well to snap a 7 game losing streak:


1. Dominate the Glass: In the first meeting back in Raleigh, both Garrison Brooks and Armando Bacot posted double doubles. Carolina controlled the glass, which allowed them to control the pace of the game. Ironically this year, the Heels aren’t built to run with any team, even State. If Brooks can play, he and Bacot need to have the same type of effort they had in the first meeting. After getting pounded on the glass at Louisville, expect a better rebounding effort tonight.


2,. Protect the Ball: The Wolfpack feed off of turnovers, especially live ball miscues. The Tar Heels coughed it up 17 times against the Cardinals on Saturday, some were forced, some weren’t. Carolina simply can’t afford to turn the ball over at a high rate if they want to win this game. That means they need to make smart passes, and be strong with the ball on the perimeter.


3. Defend the 3 Point Line: With the small lineup you’ll see the Wolfpack utilize, that’ll open up driving lanes for their guards to penetrate the lanes. That will cause the defense to collapse, and leave open shooters spotted up on the perimeter. Carolina can’t afford to let Bryce or Johnson get hot from deep. In the loss as Notre Dame, they quit defending the three point line in the final minutes, in what became a last second defeat. They have to be aware of the ability to shoot the long ball, despite the low shooting percentage.

Series History: Carolina owns a 159-78 mark all time against the Big 4 foe. Roy Williams is 36-4 all time against the Wolfpack, and 31-4 at UNC.


Series History: Carolina owns a 159-78 mark all time against the Big 4 foe. Roy Williams is 36-4 all time against the Wolfpack, and 31-4 at UNC.


KenPom:


UNC - 91st overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 104.5 ( 127th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.7 ( 77th )


NC State - 50th overall. Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 109.4 ( 48th ) Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 96.3 ( 73rd )


TV Info: Tonight's rivalry contest will tip off at 9 pm on ESPN, from the Dean E Smith Center.