NO. 7 NORTH CAROLINA (23-4, 10-2 ACC) AT NORTH CAROLINA STATE (18-9, 7-5 ACC)
Time: 8 p.m.
TV: ACC Network
Location: RBC Center in Raleigh, N.C.
North Carolina 5 (No. 2 ACC)
N.C. State 58 (No. 6 ACC)
Line: North Carolina -4½ (O/U 149)
North Carolina Players to Watch: F Harrison Barnes, 6-8 So. (18 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 43% 3s); F John Henson, 6-11 Jr. (14 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.1 bpg); G Kendall Marshall, 6-4 So. (6.6 ppg, 9.7 apg, 1.3 spg). Marshall is eight assists away from 500 for his career. He will become just the second North Carolina sophomore to reach that milestone. Ed Cota is the only Tar Heel ever to do so. Marshall is 22 assists shy of Cota’s UNC single-season mark of 284 assists.
N.C. State Players to Watch: G Lorenzo Brown, 6-5 So. (12.1 ppg, 6.5 apg, 4.3 rpg); F C.J. Leslie, 6-8 So. (13.3 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 49.8% FG); F Richard Howell, 6-8 Jr. (11 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 49.8% FG). Howell ranks fourth in the ACC in rebounding. He has grabbed double-digit boards in 10 of the Pack’s last 17 games, including 11 in Saturday’s 76-62 loss to Florida State.
Storylines: North Carolina has won its last three games – by an average of 18.3 points per game – to remain in a tie atop the ACC with Duke and Florida State. After back-to-back devastating losses, the Wolfpack are tied for fourth at 7-5 (with Virginia and Miami) and fighting for their NCAA lives.
Keys: North Carolina has beaten the Wolfpack 11 straight times, including a 74-55 drubbing on Jan. 26. Tar Heel senior Tyler Zeller had 21 points and a career-high 17 rebounds in the win. UNC and N.C. State are the two of the highest-scoring teams in the ACC. The Tar Heels lead the league at 82.8 per game (second to Iona nationally), while the Pack are third at 73.8. The Heels and Wolfpack are 1-2 in the ACC in assists. North Carolina is tops in the conference with 17.9 dishes per game and N.C. State averages 16.5. After shooting 39 percent from the 3-point line in the non-conference, North Carolina is just 51 for 173 (29.5 percent) in ACC play. State is second in the league in 3-point percentage at 36.3, including 35.4 in ACC play. The Tar Heels are 5-2 in true road games this season and have won four straight away from home. The Wolfpack are 12-5 at the RBC Center, having lost three of their last five at home.
The Bottom Line: Take away the final two minutes of the loss to Duke and the Tar Heels are playing as well as anyone in the nation. Their roll – and their winning streak over N.C. State – continues tonight.
The Pick: North Carolina 76, North Carolina State 69
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 76-46