NC State takes on UNC in Chapel Hill today at 5 pm. NC State is riding a 4 game winning streak and have won 7 of their last 8. Meanwhile, UNC has won 2 straight and 4 of their last 5. Both teams are 5-3 in the ACC. Here are our keys to the game…
1. Stop Armando Bacot
Easier said than done. Bacot is averaging 17.6 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. He’s the focal point of their offense and there is no question they are going to try to get him the ball on most possessions. And why wouldn’t they? NC State’s frontcourt is hobbled. DJ Burns is the only healthy big on the roster. Ebe Dowuona may play today, but he’s going to be a game-time decision. Even with Dowuona though, it’ll be tough. Burns has the beef to keep Bacot from getting too deep, but they are going to do everything they can to put Burns in foul trouble. And to be honest, Dowuona can’t stop Bacot (last year Bacot combined for 46 points and 31 boards vs Ebe in the two matchups), but having another body in the middle could keep Burns fresh and limit his fouls would be nice. That said, if Ebe is out and Burns gets in foul trouble then it’s as good as over for NC State if they play straight up. Keatts will have the option of going zone, but he hasn’t shown it at all this season, so who knows if he’ll open up his bag of tricks tonight. I’d assume that aside from going zone, State will throw a lot of double teams at Bacot and make UNC beat them from the perimeter.
2. Make things tough for RJ Davis
Davis is UNC’s best guard and lately he’s been playing great. Just look at his recent games and look at those shooting percentages.
Jarkell Joiner will be tasked with guarding him and I think that’s actually a pretty good matchup for State. Both guys are about 6’0, but Joiner is quicker and more athletic than Davis by a bit. The key for Joiner will be keeping tabs on Davis in transition since I don’t think Davis will be successful trying to isolate and go one on one against Jarkell.
3. Make Caleb Love implode
This one is going to be on Tarquavion Smith. Love has been a mess this season for UNC. He’s shooting 27% from long range, he’s taking all sorts of poor shots and it looks like he’s more interested in building up his stat sheet for NBA scouts than he is interested in making his team better. This is a big game for him, he’s going to want to come out and try to dominate his rival. Smith needs to make it tough for him early, get in his head, bait him into taking long, tough shots, and allow him to implode. When UNC is at their worst, Caleb Love is sabotaging them with selfish play. If he gets going early, State is in trouble, but if they can force him into mistakes, I believe it will compound and work against the Heels in a big way.
4. Don’t leave Pete Nance
NC State needs to be smart about how they double-team Bacot. If they force Gantt or Ross down, that leave Pete Nance open, and the 6’11 shooter is hitting 35% of his 3s this season. He hasn’t been consistent with a hand in his face, but when he’s open he hits. I’d expect to see Keatts want to bring Morsell down to dig on Bacot in the double and pester him from putting the ball on the floor. This also leaves open Leaky Black, who is the guy you want shooting for UNC. He is hitting at a higer clip this season (32%) but he’s still erratic from long range and has been way off the past 4 games.
5. Come out with a quiet confidence and expose the Heels true selves
If ever there is a year to feel confident about your chances in UNC, this is it. There are cracks in the program’s armor. UNC has a fake swagger that they get from the logo on their chest. As a team they know they don’t have things figured out. They know they aren’t clicking as a unit. But fake swagger is better than no swagger, because if that fake swagger gets some outside confirmation, it can turn into real swagger for a bit. What I’m saying is that, if UNC comes out hot and hits some shots, and NC State comes out cold, UNC could ride a wave to victory. They’ve done it a few times this season and emotions will be high in this rivalry game. That said, that fake swagger can disappear pretty fast and expose who they really are if things don’t go as planned. Some early mistakes, some bad shots, a few fouls on Bacot, and suddenly they’ll be exposed for what they are. A team that lacks chemistry doesn’t have a real identity.
NC State’s Men’s Basketball Team is Having One of it’s Best Runs in the ACC Ever
Heading into tonight’s Top-25 matchup between #22 NC State and #8 UVA, the Wolfpack are in the midst of one of their best runs in ACC play since the conference was formed in 1953.
The Wolfpack are 9-4 in the ACC, but they have won 8 of their last 9 conference games.
The last time NC State went on a run like this in ACC Regular Season games was during the 1972-73 and 73-74 seasons, when the Wolfpack went 12-0 in ACC play.
12-0 (1972 & 73-74)
12 of 13 (1958-59)
8 of 9 (2022-23, 1961-61, 1954-55)
7 of 8 (1974-75, 1969-70, 1964-65, 1955-56)
6 of 7 (2005-06, 1979-80, 1960-61, 1957-58)
#22 NC State is a 7.5-Point Underdog at #8 UVA Tonight
#22 NC State is a 7.5-point underdog at #8 Virginia tonight at 9pm, and the Total is sitting at 137.
- NC State is 19-5 Straight Up.
- They are 11-11-2 Against the Spread.
- UVA is 17-4 Straight Up.
- They are 8-12-1 Against the Spread.
- The Total has gone Over in 13 of NC State’s 24 games.
- The Total has gone Over in 12 of UVA’s 22 games
- UVA is 15-2 as the Favorite.
- NC State is 4-4 as the Underdog.
- NC State is 4-1-1 in their last 6 games against UVA Against the Spread.
- The Total has gone Over in 5 of NC State’s last 7 games.
- The Total has gone Over in 4 of UVA’s last 5 games.
- The Total has gone Under in 5 of the last 6 games between these two in Charlottesville.
- NC State has won two in a row, and 3 of the last 4 against UVA.
- Kevin Keatts is 3-4 against UVA. He is 2-2 at UVA.
NC State vs. UVA
NC State is the ONLY Team in the Triangle Ranked for the 1st Time in 40 Years
NC State’s Men’s Basketball team is back in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 4 years, landing at #22 in the Week 14 AP Poll.
NC State is ranked. Duke and UNC are not. Last time that was the case? December 27th, 1982. Over 40 years ago. It’s only the 6th time in 67 years that this has happened.
Wolfpack was 17th that week. UNC was unranked in two polls all year, Dec. 20 and Dec. 27. Duke was not ranked that season (Dawkins, Alarie, Bilis, Henderson were freshmen).
Other *cough* ACC teams on Dec. 27: Virginia (4), Louisville (13), Syracuse (14).
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 6, 2023
Before that: The preseason poll in 1973, the final poll in 1970 and Dec. 5, 1955. So this is the sixth time in 67 years.
Happened pretty often between 1952-55. NC State was ranked during the entire 1950-51 season while neither Duke nor UNC was.
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 6, 2023
Anyone remember what happened that 1982-83 basketball season?
NC State won the National Championship.
NC State Breaks Into the AP Poll, Landing at #22
NC State is off to it’s best start in almost 2 decades, and they now finally have a number beside their name, landing at #22 in the Week 14 AP Poll.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) February 6, 2023
This is the first time that NC State has been ranked in the AP Poll since January 28th, 2019, when they were ranked 23rd.
ACC Teams in the Week 14 AP Poll
22. NC State