The No. 24 UNC women’s basketball team will travel to Raleigh to face No. 5 N.C. State on Thursday.
After falling to Virginia, 81-66, on the road earlier this week, the Tar Heels will be looking to bounce back from a snapped four-game winning streak.
However, North Carolina will be met with some stiff competition. After failing to rank in the AP poll's preseason top-25, N.C. State has forced itself back into the national conversation. The Wolfpack secured early season wins against No. 11 UConn and No. 6 Colorado — both top-3 teams in the nation at the time. Even with its early season success, January has been a tumultuous month for N.C. State, as the team has suffered its only losses to then-No. 13 Virginia Tech and an unranked Miami team.
With March Madness on the horizon, this upcoming game will showcase the potential of both teams down the stretch. Here are three keys for the Tar Heels to achieve a potential upset over one of their in-state rivals:
Confronting N.C. State on both sides of the floor
Not only does the Wolfpack have one of the best offenses in the ACC — averaging 77.8 points per game — but it also has one of the best defenses, only allowing 59.1 points per game.
All five starters for the Wolfpack average double figures with junior guards Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers leading the scoring effort. Additionally, the Wolfpack can score all over the floor and are shooting over 34 percent from behind the arc.
N.C. State is also sound defensively, coming in at No. 2 in points allowed per game in the ACC. Against Colorado, the Wolfpack won by 18 while holding their opponent to a stifling 60 points – 17 less than Colorado’s average.
It’s safe to say the Tar Heels will find difficulties on both sides of the floor against the Wolfpack's potent offense and smothering defense.