For the record, UNC holds a 131-74 all-time lead in the series which dates back to Feb. 22, 1913. Relevant to this discussion, however, the Tar Heels have gone 6-4 in the last 10 contests, starting with the second match-up of 2000. It's been a series of runs and season sweeps by each team, marked by a couple of UNC coaching changes.
Carolina (22-3, 10-2 ACC) and State (15-10, 5-7) will renew pleasantries Tuesday at 8 p.m. in Raleigh.
Here are game-by-game capsules to help refresh your memory concerning the rivalry's recent history:
Feb. 9, 2000
After NC State's 14-0 start in its first season at the Entertainment and Sports Arena, a struggling Carolina team – by historical standards – in what would be Bill Guthridge's final season, handed the Wolfpack its first loss at the new building.
It was the fifth time that season UNC had rallied from double-digit deficits to win.
Senior Ed Cota, who dished out 11 assists and didn't turn the ball over until the game's final seconds, also nailed a long-range three with under a minute left to erase any hopes of a State comeback.
Anthony Grundy hit a pair of threes to give the Pack a 32-30 lead early in the second half. But UNC's Max Owens halted State's momentum with back-to-back threes of his own, pushing the Heels out to an eight-point lead with 9:22 to play.
Brendon Haywood led all scorers with 19 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Joseph Forte chipped in 16 points.
State was led by Damon Thornton's 18 points, followed by Justin Gainey with 15 and Grundy with 11.
With the win the Tar Heels (15-9, 6-4), which lost four games in a row in January, had now won three straight ACC road games to move into a tie with Maryland for second-place in the conference.
UNC would finish the season 22-14, tied with Virginia for third in the ACC, and rally to a Final Four berth before falling to Florida in Indianapolis.
Carolina's sweep of the series marked its fifth consecutive defeat of the Pack (15-6, 5-5), which went on to finish 6-10 in the conference. State finished 20-14 overall, after falling to Wake Forest in the NIT semis.
Jan. 28, 2001
The Baltimore Ravens' 34-7 Super Bowl win over the New York Giants was even more exciting than this ugly Tobacco Road match-up played earlier in the day. It was a sloppy, ragged tussle, but the Tar Heels escaped with a hard fought win, in what was Matt Doherty's first time coaching against N.C. State.
Ahead by one with just under two minutes left, Haywood, Forte and Ronald Curry all nailed clutch free throws to secure the victory, which was aided by two crucial Wolfpack mistakes.
State made just 6-of-31 field goals (19 percent) in the first half, after Carolina's zone held the Wolfpack scoreless in the last 5:32 before intermission.
Grundy, who finished with 12 points, went 6-for-18 from the field and missed all five of his 3-point attempts. Kenny Inge, who had scored 26 points in an overtime thriller against FSU in State's previous game, scored just three free throws and went 0-for-7 from the field against the Tar Heels.
Forte didn't shoot very well either, scoring 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting; while Haywood recorded five blocks, but only managed 10 points.
The Wolfpack (10-8, 2-5) found out early Saturday that Grundy, the team's leading scorer, had been arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault of a female student. However, Herb Sendek allowed Grundy to play and denied the incident had been a distraction in the game.
The Tar Heels (17-2, 7-0) had now won 14 in a row with a trip to Duke on their immediate horizon.
Feb. 28, 2001
Eighteen turnovers and 37 percent shooting were not going to get it done against suddenly vulnerable No. 4 North Carolina. Rushed shots, forced passes and bad decisions, along with 27 points from Forte, undermined the unranked Wolfpack's attempt at an upset.
Forte, the ACC's leading scorer, hit six of his final seven field goal attempts, grabbed six rebounds and had four steals.
State (13-14, 5-10) pulled to within 34-31 early in the second half on a Damien Wilkins' drive and score, and subsequently had Curry stuck in the backcourt with the shot clock winding down. But the UNC quarterback/point guard banked in a prayer from way beyond the arc, as the Tar Heels (23-4, 13-2) would pull away for good.
Behind a 22-2 start, the Tar Heels spent several weeks of the season ranked No. 1 and tied Duke for the ACC regular season crown. Doherty would earn AP Coach of the Year honors, but things would never look as good again for the former Carolina alum. Of course no one anticipated the monumental skid and controversy the UNC program would soon endure.
Beginning with an upset by Clemson in Littlejohn, UNC would lose on five straight Sundays, including back-to-back double-digit losses to Duke in Chapel Hill and Atlanta, and a second-round NCAA exit with an 84-72 loss to Penn State in New Orleans.
Meanwhile there would be no postseason for the 13-16 Wolfpack; however, its fortunes against the Tar Heels were about to take a turn for the better.
Jan. 23, 2002
The Tar Heels didn't just fall in Doherty's second season, they collapsed. Having already lost to the likes of Hampton, Davidson, Charleston, and surviving a near miss at home against Binghamton; Carolina was buried in what would become the worst stretch in history for the once-proud university.
N.C. State (15-4, 5-2) was off to its best start since the 1988-89 – when the Pack won its last ACC regular season championship. The visitors would show no mercy, as thousands of State fans were able to acquire tickets and chanted "Wolf-pack, Wolf-pack," throughout the game in the Smith Center.
Grundy scored a game-high 21 points and Archie Miller tallied a season-high 20, to snap a seven-game losing streak to Carolina.
The Heels trailed by 15 points in the first half and 42-30 at the break. But Carolina sliced the lead to seven on a Adam Boone three, then later got within six on a thunderous follow dunk by Kris Lang at the 14:58 mark.
With each basket the UNC faithful would rise up only to be silenced again by a Miller trey.
State's 18-point margin of victory was its biggest over UNC since 1961-62 at Reynolds Coliseum and the biggest in Chapel Hill since 1952-53.
It was Sendek's first win over the Tar Heels since a 1998 upset over a Carolina team that featured Antawn Jamison and Vince Carter.
UNC (5-11, 1-5) suffered its sixth consecutive loss for the first time since the 1950-51 season, while the Pack had now won three ACC games in a row, a feat it had not accomplished in 14 years.
Feb. 24, 2002
"The Way We Were" was played during Miller and Grundy's senior pre-game celebration, but shortly after the tip-off, it was Carolina that looked like the team it had been for so many years before.
Led by freshman Jawad Williams, the Tar Heels (7-18, 3-11) hit 54.8 percent of their first half shots, while committing just five turnovers. A 12-point underdog entering the contest, UNC sprinted to the locker room ahead, 46-36.
But the good feelings disintegrated as quickly as they had come about. The Pack (20-8, 9-6) turned up its defensive pressure and limited Carolina to 37 percent shooting in the second half. Marcus Melvin attacked Lang in the post and pulled down 10 rebounds to go with his 18 points.
The Wolfpack, which converted 30 of 37 free throws in the game, shot 58.6 percent from the field in the second half.
Grundy once again provided the knockout scoring punch with 28 points, while Lang led the Tar Heels with 19.
N.C. State would score 62 points in the second half, allowing its last senior, Cary walk-on Brian Keeter, to enter the game.
For Sendek, the victory over Carolina was his first at home after five straight losses.
The Wolfpack finished tied with Wake for third-place in the conference at 9-7, and advanced to the ACC Tournament Final in Charlotte before falling to Duke, 91-61. Seventh-seeded State defeated Michigan State, but then lost to No. 2 seed UConn in the East Regional, 77-74, to finish with a 23-11 overall mark.
The Heels went 8-20, 4-12 in the conference, snapping three of the program's benchmark streaks – consecutive trips to the NCAA Tourney (1975-2001, 27 years), consecutive 20-win seasons (1971-2001, 30 years) and consecutive seasons finishing tied for third-place or better in the ACC (1965-2001, 37 years).
Jan. 26, 2003
Behind an outstanding freshman class, featuring Rashad McCants, Sean May and Raymond Felton, and budding sophomores, North Carolina appeared on its way to restoring the luster to the program's damaged legacy. But it wouldn't be an immediate turnaround, and 2002-03 would be marred by swirling controversy between Doherty and several of the collegiate stars he had recruited.
With UNC improving, State (11-4, 4-1) avoided the letdown after having knocked off No. 3 Duke four days earlier.
After State upset the Blue Devils, David Thompson and Tommy Burleson, two stars from the Pack's 1974 NCAA championship team, went into the locker room to offer congratulations. They returned for the UNC game, joined by the 1983 national championship team, which was honored at halftime.
Julius Hodge scored a career-high 30 points and senior Clifford Crawford had an outstanding game in which seemingly everyone in a Wolfpack uniform with eligibility contributed significantly.
The Tar Heels (11-7, 2-3) were clearly much quicker and more athletic than a year ago, following the additions of the three new players coupled with three transfers.
Felton tied a school record with eight 3-pointers, scoring 28 points, and McCants finished with 20. The Heels led 35-34 at halftime, and the Pack held a two-point lead with less than five minutes to play. But Melvin and Josh Powell were key down the stretch and the Pack took care of business at the free throw line for its first three-game winning streak over UNC since 1975.
Before the week began, State had suffered losses to Gonzaga, Massachusetts and Boston College. The Pack's hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament appeared to be slipping away until the wins over the Blue Devils and Tar Heels resurrected the season.
NCSU, 75-67 OT
Feb. 25, 2003
N.C. State completed its four-game win streak over North Carolina in just the sixth overtime contest of the 90-year-old series. By now the Tar Heels locker room was clearly in turmoil and it seemed not so much a matter of if Doherty would be replaced, but rather when, and by whom.
Carolina led 61-55 with 2:55 remaining, but State stormed back. Hodge, who played the final 12 minutes of the game with four fouls, buried both ends of a 1-and-1; and Scooter Sherrill knocked down a 3-pointer with one second on the shot clock to pull the Pack within 61-60 with 1:33 remaining. Then Felton missed the second of two free throws.
With 28.2 seconds left and trailing by two, State called a timeout and set up a play for Hodge, who drove the lane and buried the game tying shot from 14 feet away with 8.3 seconds left in regulation.
The Wolfpack (15-9, 8-5 ACC), desperately needing a road win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, defeated the Tar Heels largely by tying a then ACC record 22-of-22 converted free throws.
The Pack had won just once in nine games away from Raleigh, but showed no nervousness at all, nailing 10 of the free throws in the extra period.
Meanwhile Carolina was awful from the charity stripe, converting just 7-of-19. This one stung, as the Tar Heels (14-13, 4-9 ACC) were still reeling from a 40-point loss at Maryland in its last game.
With the loss, Carolina was staring at a berth in the play-in game in the upcoming conference tournament. On the other hand, State secured its hold on fourth place in the ACC.
Although the victory was iced at the line, it was Hodge's 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists that made the difference for State.
Carolina did enjoy a regular-season finale win over No. 12 Duke, and less than a week later, upset Maryland in the first round of the ACC Tournament. But the Tar Heels came up short against Duke in the semis, and a NIT loss to Georgetown in the Smith Center ended Doherty's final campaign at 19-16.
State finished 9-7 in the league, tied for fourth for the second straight season, and slipped into the NCAA Tournament field by once again advancing to the ACC final against Duke. The Pack ended the season 18-13, falling in overtime to Cal in the first round of the NCAAs.
Jan. 28, 2004
Enter Roy Williams, who was named the Tar Heels new coach after guiding Kansas to the 2003 NCAA championship game. Morale was sky-high again in Chapel Hill, and so were expectations.
However, the same could be said for N.C. State, which entered the game atop the ACC standings.
There were few tickets available for Wolfpack fans this time around, as No. 12 UNC (13-4, 3-3) snapped the four-game losing streak to one of its archrivals.
The Wolfpack (11-5, 4-2) was able to control the tempo and held Carolina to 20 points under its season-scoring average. State, led by a season-high 57.7 percent shooting performance in the first half, was ahead at the break, 38-34.
But Williams emphasized defense in the locker room at halftime, and his new team was eager to obey. With the help of a 1-3-1 defensive alignment, the Heels held the Pack to just one field goal in a nine minute stretch of the second half, and pulled ahead, 57-47, with 8:17 remaining. Simultaneously, led by Felton's team-high 14 points and five assists, Carolina went on a 14-3 run.
State would pull to within 65-63 with 1:07 left when Engin Atsur buried a 3-pointer. The next possession, the Tar Heels ran the same play that had freed up McCants for a game-winning three-pointer to defeat top-ranked Connecticut earlier in the month. But this time, McCants faked the shot and drove for a layup that would lead UNC to victory.
Levi Watkins failed to convert on the Pack's next possession, sealing the game's outcome.
Feb. 29, 2004
North Carolina went a long way to solidifying its return to the NCAA Tournament with the season sweeper over N.C. State.
The Tar Heels' (17-8, 7-7) performance resembled many of their efforts throughout the season, putting up a big lead – 16 points at its pinnacle with 1:14 left to play in the first half, before squandering the advantage quicker than usual this time.
After taking a 40-27 lead into intermission and for the most part having taken the partisan 19,722 fans out of the game to that point, UNC failed to score again until the 15:14 mark of the second half.
But this time UNC sucked it up and weathered State's best comeback shot to win down the stretch.
And like so many times before that year, it was the clutch shooting of McCants that helped seal the victory. With the score tied at 56-56, McCants nailed back-to-back threes to put the Tar Heels up for good with 3:06 left to play in the game.
After a subsequent defensive stop by Carolina, Felton scored on a layup to push the Carolina lead up to six points. Then following Atsur's three on the Wolfpack's next possession, Felton hit an incredible runner in the lane with the shot clock running down to put the Tar Heels up 64-59 with 1:05 to play.
Moments later, May calmly sank two free throws staring into a sea of waving elongated red and white balloons, extending what was a tenuous Carolina lead to six points and touching off a mass exodus of red-clad fans to the parking lot.
It was No. 14 N.C. State's (18-7, 10-4) first home loss of the year, and just the Tar Heels' second conference win on the road since Dec. 22, 2002.
With the win, Carolina salvaged another long-time streak, sweeping at least one ACC regular season opponent since the ACC's inception in 1953.
UNC finished 19-11, but faltered down the stretch with a first-round overtime loss to Georgia Tech in the ACC Tournament, and a second-round NCAA loss to Texas in Denver. N.C. State finished second in the conference – two games behind Duke – before losing to Maryland in the ACC semis and dropping a heartbreaking 75-73 decision to Vanderbilt in the NCAA second-round.
Feb. 3, 2005
Second-ranked and Atlantic Coast Conference leader North Carolina had little problem rolling to their 18th win in 19 games by putting on a dunking clinic in the Smith Center. The UNC-State rivalry appeared to have come full circle, as the Tar Heels were once again national championship contenders and the Wolfpack was mired in mediocrity.
Instead of playing down to State's attempt to slow the tempo, this time around Carolina (18-2, 7-1) rose to the occasion, as David Noel, Jackie Manuel, Marvin Williams and Sean May all contributed to an extensive highlight reel of high flying jams and rejections.
Meanwhile the Wolfpack (13-8, 3-5), which started the season 8-0, suffered its eighth setback in 13 outings.
UNC was led by a career-high 20 points from freshman Marvin Williams, who was 3-for-4 from three-point range and converted 7-of-8 free throws.
McCants missed just one shot to finish with 18 points, May "double-doubled" his way to 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Raymond Felton did the same with 11 points to go with 10 assists.
With Roy Williams under the weather – he was hospitalized earlier in the day with a 103-degree temperature – his team spared his voice by giving him nothing to feel any more ill about.
The Tar Heels jumped out to a 12-2 lead less than five minutes into the game and never looked back, taking a 51-32 lead at the half. After State attempted a comeback with an 11-4 run to start the final period, Carolina then outscored the Wolfpack 22-9 over the next 4:09 to finalize the rout.
In a game that was played to near perfection, UNC turned the ball over just nine times, blocked six shots and recorded 11 steals.
All-Time Series Records