North Carolina State center BeeJay Anya was asked about facing the University of Louisville basketball team in the NCAA Sweet 16 on Friday night in the Carrier Dome.
Anya said Chris Jones off the team "was the only different," part of the U of L team since the Feb. 14 victory by N.C. State at the KFC Yum Center.
Several of the U of L players smiled when told about Anya's comment.
"We're so much different," senior Wayne Blackshear said.
"He'll have to just find out," sophomore guard Terry Rozier said. "We're a better all-around team than we were then. We were this (Rozier opened his hand) and now we're like a closed fist. We're just that much better of a team.
"Chris is my brother and I'm not saying anything bad about him, but we're not standing around watching him or me just dribble like we had been. We're better."
It is a rematch that many might not have expected.
A victory over U of L against the Wolfpack on Valentines Day made N.C. State 15-11. The Wolfpack came into the game desperate for a little positive mojo, while the Cardinals ended up losing in what Rick Pitino has called one of its worst games of the season.
Now, just over a month later and N.C. State has won eight of its past 10 games and the Cardinals are on a roll and back into the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight season.
"We know them better and they know us better," Pitino said. "They can beat anybody. They're that good and we know that. I think they know we're pretty good as well."
The game is just the fourth time two ACC teams have squared off in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals are in the Sweet 16 time for the 21st time in school history.
And Pitino says they're "a much better" team than in February.
"We're excited and we're motivated to be here," center Mangok Mathiang said. "A lot of people didn't expect us to be here, but we are are we're ready to keep going."
The Cardinals know they must play better than the first meeting when Cat Barber finished with 21 points and four assists. But the Cardinals also know they are a better team and playing at a much higher level at this point.
"We had some guys who didn't play well that night," Blackshear said, noting Rozier and Montrezl Harrell were both held under 10 points. "But I think those guys will be fine and play much better this time. We're a better all-around team."