Tip-Off: 9:00 p.m.
Television: ACC Network
Radio: Airtime begins @ 1:30 PM on the Wolfpack Radio Network
NC State Information
North Carolina Information
NC State Projected Starting Line-up
G Ryan Harrow
G Lorenzo Brown
F Scott Wood
F C.J. Leslie
F Tracy Smith
North Carolina Projected Starting Line-up
G Kendall Marshall
G Dexter Strickland
F Harrison Barnes
F John Henson
C Tyler Zeller
Players to Watch
C.J. Leslie -- Leslie has been the Pack's best player the last three games, and the Wolfpack will need him to play well to upset the Tar Heels. Leslie is averaging 17.4 points and 7.8 rebounds over his last five games.
John Henson -- Henson had 16 points, 16 rebounds, and seven blocks in the first meeting between the two teams. For NC State to have any shot at winning this game they must not allow Henson to be a factor.
NC State Scouting Report
After North Carolina State couldn't maintain the momentum it built up with a fast-closing run at the end of the first half and fell 87-80 at Maryland, senior Tracy Smith acknowledged the obvious regarding the Wolfpack's future.
"We have to win the ACC tournament to get to where we want to go," Smith told the Raleigh News & Observer.
Where the 'Pack "wants to go" is the NCAA Tournament. N.C. State last played in the tournament in 2006, Herb Sendak's last year as the Wolfpack coach.
With a 14-12 overall record and a 4-8 slate in the ACC following the loss to the Terrapins, however, the 'Pack not only is out of picture for an at-large bid to the 68-team NCAA field but even has put its NIT hopes in jeopardy.
The one saving grace for the Wolfpack is that of their four remaining games, three of them are at home and the lone road trip is to Virginia, another 4-8 team.
North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Florida State all must come to Raleigh before the ACC tourney opens in Greensboro, N.C., next month.
The Wolfpack had a chance, a very good chance, to steal a win at Maryland, going on a 14-0 run late in the first half to go to the locker room with a 40-38 lead at the intermission.
The 'Pack continued to lead through the opening minutes of the second half and were on even terms with the Terps until the two teams reached a 71-71 tie with 7:48 remaining.
The Terps then went on an 8-0 run that eventually led to an nine-point difference with less than two minutes remaining.
The 'Pack was never closer than seven points after that and trailed by 11 with less than a minute to play.
-- The loss to Maryland on Feb. 20 snapped a modest two-game winning streak for North Carolina State and dropped the Wolfpack into a tie for eighth place in the conference with Miami and Virginia through games of Feb. 20. The Wolfpack already has a win over Miami and could earn the tiebreaker over the other two for league tournament seedings if it can beat the Cavaliers in Charlottesville on March 1.
-- Though only 4-8 in the conference through Feb. 20, North Carolina State already has a two-game improvement over where the Wolfpack was after 12 ACC games last season. The 'Pack was only 2-10 in 2009-10 but won three of its final four outings of the regular season, then won two games in the ACC Tournament. A similar finish would make the 'Pack 19-14 when postseason bids are issued.
-- N.C. State publicists are touting freshman F C.J. Leslie for ACC Rookie of the Year honors. After scoring 18 points in the loss at Maryland, Leslie was averaging 13.4 points and 6.8 rebounds a game in 11 ACC games. He did not play against Duke while serving a one-game suspension.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-11 -- N.C. State's record when trailing at the 5:00-minute mark of games following the defeat at Maryland.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Something I've been talking about the last few weeks is how we've been playing so well together. During those last seven minutes, though, some of our guys were just trying to play one-on-one, whether it was outside or in the post." -- Coach Sidney Lowe, on his team's fade at the end of the loss at Maryland.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
-- vs. North Carolina, Feb. 23
The Wolfpack is going to need more than the 12 points and three rebounds it got out of senior F Tracy Smith in the first meeting, which the Tar Heels won by 20 in Chapel Hill. Smith also fouled out. He and freshman F C.J. Leslie will be working against the Tar Heels John Henson and Tyler Zeller inside.
-- vs. Georgia Tech, Feb. 26
KEY MATCHUPS: Tech can be a problem on the perimeter where it has guards Iman Shumpert and Glen Rice scoring in double figures. The 'Pack figures to have its way inside with Smith and Leslie.
Sophomore G Scott Wood has been the only player who has started every game for the Wolfpack this season, though coach Sidney Lowe has sent the same five out to start the last three games. That would be F Tracy Smith, who likely would have started every game were it not for a knee injury that sidelined him nine games; F C.J. Leslie, who was suspended for one game; G Ryan Harrow, G Lorenzo Brown, and Wood. That lineup looks to be good the rest of the way.
-- Freshman G Lorenzo Brown scored only eight points but also had eight assists to go with his points against Maryland on Feb. 20. Brown has 24 assists over his last four games.
-- Senior F Tracy Smith scored a team-high 19 points against the Terps, his third consecutive game in double figures. He has had at least 10 points in all but two of his appearances, including a four-point production against East Carolina when he injured his knee early. He also scored only four points at Duke.
North Carolina Scouting Report
North Carolina coach Roy Williams questioned his team's toughness after its 48-46 victory over Boston College, but he wasn't referring to a lack of physical play by the Tar Heels, who held the Eagles to under 27 percent shooting and outrebounded them 44-30.
His Heels have demonstrated that kind of toughness often this season, especially when compared to last season.
This was a different of toughness.
"Toughness is doing the right thing," Williams said, lamenting the turnovers, missed field goal attempts, and missed free throws his team had down the stretch. "Toughness is the mental part. "It's not just fighting. I mean, it's not just diving on the floor. Toughness to me is more of a mental state."
The Tar Heels, who won the first meeting over the Eagles by 32 points, nearly blew all of a 15-point second-half cushion before getting their 10th win in 12 ACC outings.
They were very much looking at the potential for a third league loss when freshman guard Kendall Marshall missed a jumper with 38 seconds left and BC got the rebound to set up its last play.
The Tar Heels escaped when a three-point attempt by BC guard Reggie Jackson rimmed out, and they took possession with less than a second remaining when the rebound went out-of-bounds.
"It's very disappointing because, at this point in time, we have become a good team," freshman forward Harrison Barnes said. "We've got a lot of good wins underneath our belt. But we almost threw it away tonight."
-- North Carolina reached the 20-win level for the 53rd time in school history and a seventh consecutive time under coach Roy Williams with a Feb. 19 win over Boston College. The Tar Heels have 10 ACC wins for the 35th time overall and sixth time in the last seven years.
-- The 48 points the Tar Heels scored in the two-point win over Boston College were the fewest for the Heels in 361 games in Chapel Hill's Smith Center. The previous low for the Heels in the facility was 50 in an eight-point win over Princeton in 1997. The 48 points are the fewest in a North Carolina win since a 45-44 win at North Carolina State in 1997.
-- So much for shooting being the key to victory. In their last three wins, the Tar Heels have failed to top the 40 percent mark from the field (37.7 vs. Clemson, 36.6 vs. Wake Forest, 36.8 vs. BC). The opponents obviously helped by shooting only 34.4, 37.7, and 26.9 percent, respectively.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8 -- The number of free throws North Carolina shot against BC, a season low to go along with a season-low four makes.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Sometimes it's the old saying you've got to be lucky or good, but I'd like to be lucky and good both. And at times, I think this team is really good." -- Coach Roy Williams, after his Tar Heels held on for a two-point win over Boston College.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
-- at North Carolina State, Feb. 23
KEY MATCHUPS: The Tar Heels won by 20 in the first meeting with the Wolfpack back on Jan. 29. Freshmen came off the bench to play big roles for N.C. State. G Lorenzo Brown scored 20 points and seven assists, and F C.J. Leslie added 14 points and seven rebounds. The Tar Heels limited Wolfpack senior F Tracy Smith to just 12 points and three rebounds before he fouled out.
-- vs. Maryland, Feb. 27
KEY MATCHUPS: The two teams have had some classic matchups in the past. The upfront work of Carolina's John Henson and Tyler Zeller against Maryland sophomore Jordan Williams, who is averaging a double-double in conference play in scoring and rebounds, could be decisive.
FUTURES MARKET: Freshman G Kendall Marshall's main responsibility is to run the offense, but he also can score if needed. His five field goals in eight shots against Boston College (10 points) on Feb. 19 were a season high. Marshall had only three points in the previous game against Wake Forest but scored 18 before that in the win at Clemson. He was 10-of-11 from the free throw line against the Tigers but didn't gone to the stripe against Wake or BC.
-- Sophomore F John Henson had 12 rebounds but his streak of double-doubles ended at four games when he scored only six points against BC. He was only 3-of-11 from the field.
-- Junior F Tyler Zeller scored 16 points against the Eagles, extending his streak of double-digit scoring performances to seven in a row, the longest such streak in his career.