When North Carolina first met N.C. State this season, the Wolfpack was on the rise and Tar Heels declining. Now, each team’s trajectory has reversed. How will UNC fare in the rematch at the Smith Center on Tuesday? Here are two big factors.
When the two last faced at PNC Arena on Jan. 5, North Carolina’s season wasn’t quite in crisis, but it badly needed a win. In its most recent matchup with a surefire NCAA Tournament team, UNC lost to Kentucky. Immediately after the N.C. State win, the Tar Heels had their worst home loss of the Roy Williams’ era to Louisville. (If you want a refresher from any of those games, follow those links.)
Ahead of the rematch, N.C. State is in a much more precarious place. Including an embarrassing showing against Virginia Tech, Kevin Keatts' squad has lost three of its last four. And the only reason that’s not four straight is because of a Braxton Beverley buzzer beater against Clemson.
On the other hand, UNC has won five straight, including avenging that loss to Louisville by double digits. The N.C. State game marks the start of a critical stretch for the Tar Heels, which includes Virginia and Duke in two of the following four games.