Tuesday features an ACC and intrastate matchup when the North Carolina State Wolfpack (16-6, 4-5 in the ACC) travel to the Dean Smith Center to take on No. 8 North Carolina (17-4, 7-1 in the ACC). The nice thing for North Carolina State is that when you are held to an embarrassingly low 24 points in your last game (a shockingly low-scoring 47-24 loss to No. 11 Virginia Tech), there isn’t much room to be worse on the offensive side. The bad thing for NC State, though, is they now have to travel to take on an extremely hot team in UNC. Speaking of the Tar Heels, they have won 5 in a row, including a 79-69 win over No. 16 Louisville on Saturday. At 7-1 in the conference, North Carolina is trying to keep stride with Virginia (8-1) and Duke (7-1). NC State and UNC will matchup Tuesday with tipoff scheduled for 8:00 pm ET.
In this contest, the North Carolina Tar Heels come in as 11-point favorites playing at home. The over/under on total points scored comes in at 163.
By The Numbers
Offensively, North Carolina has been one of the best in the country. Averaging 87.1 points per game, the Tar Heels currently rank 4th in the nation in scoring. They also crash the boards well on the offensive side as they are averaging 12.85 offensive rebounds per game (29th in the country). NC State, though, is actually better on the boards, averaging 13.57 offensive rebounds per game (16th overall). Shockingly, despite only scoring 24 in their last game, the Wolf Pack still ranks 30th in the nation in scoring, averaging 81.6 points per game.
On the defensive side, NC State ranks pretty well, allowing just 68.3 points per game, good for 100th in the nation. Between their offense and defense, NC State ranks 13th overall in scoring margin at +15.1. North Carolina, on the other hand, are allowing 72.6 points per game (211th in the country).
NC State Trying To Erase Ugly Outing From Their Memories
In their historic loss to Virginia Tech, the defense did its part, but the offense obviously struggled to get anything accomplished. The leading scorer in that game was CJ Bryce with just 7 points. To beat UNC, they will need to rely on their strengths, and part of the success of the Wolf Pack is their depth. They have nine players who are averaging 15 minutes or more per game. Of those nine, all of them are averaging 5 points or more per game.
The leading scorers are Torin Dorn, CJ Bryce, and Markell Johnson. Dorn is averaging 13.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.1 steals per game. The senior guard is shooting 47.7% from the field. CJ Bryce is averaging 12 points, 5 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game while shooting 49.5% from the field. Last of the three is Johnson, who is averaging 11.4 points, 2.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists and is shooting 52.8% from the field.
The next two leading scorers are Devon Daniels (9.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists) and Braxton Beverly (9.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists). To beat a loaded UNC team, they will need all of these guys to be able to step up.
UNC Looks To Keep Rolling
Since a January 12th loss to Louisville, the Tar Heels have been rolling. A large part of their success has been due to senior guard, Cameron Johnson. On the season, Johnson is averaging 16 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is also shooting 51.6% from the field and 47.7% from behind the arc.
Aside from Johnson, the Tar Heels have three others who are averaging double-digits. Coby White (14.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists), Luke Maye (14.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists) and Nassir Little (10.2 points, 4.6 rebounds) have all been major contributors to North Carolina.
UNC To Win, But NC State To Cover
Yes, I know, NC State only scored 24 points in their last game and were embarrassed by Virginia Tech. I choose to look at the larger picture. First, despite only scoring 24, they held Virginia Tech to just 47 points, so the defense actually played pretty well. This is also a NC State team that as recently as a week ago lost to No. 3 Virginia by just one point and a week before that kept it within 7 of No. 16 Louisville. I do have a tough time seeing NC State pull off the upset, but I do think they have enough in the tank, plus some extra motivation to put their last game in the rear view mirror, to keep this one close against a solid UNC team. For my money, I am taking NC State and the 11 points despite playing on the road. Remember, in their first matchup, at NC State, the Tar Heels won, but only by 8 points.