Welcome to game day, folks: North Carolina at N.C. State.
Wanted to provide an all-in-one-place look at our coverage today. So here goes:
--A story about Dexter Strickland's preseason comments, and how they added “some spice,” to use Strickland’s words, to the rivalry. But does what he said really mean anything?
--Over at N.C. State, Strickland’s quote didn’t register much. The Wolfpack has more important things to worry about.
--What’s the best UNC-State game in history? There have been a few. Caulton Tudor takes a look back at the 1975 ACC tournament championship game between the Wolfpack and Tar Heels.
|Football coach Dave Doeren sings 'Folsom Prison Blues' |
with Scotty McCreery before the broadcast of 'ESPN's
College GameDay' from PNC Arena on Saturday.
And with that … here’s a look at the matchups today (courtesy our Joe Giglio), starting with the starters:
Lorenzo Brown vs. Marcus Paige
Paige, an undersized freshman, has improved as a passer and decision-maker since the start of ACC play. He has struggled to find his shot but he still has better 3-point numbers (18 of 59, 30.5 percent) going into this game than Kendall Marshall did before last year's game in Raleigh (14 of 51, 27.4 percent). Marshall delivered a career-game in last year's win (22 points, four 3-pointers) in Raleigh. That's what it will take from Paige to outplay Brown, who's superior in every facet of the game.
Rodney Purvis vs. Dexter Strickland
Strickland wrote a preseason check with his "they are the least of our worries" comment, now it's up to him to cash it. He has struggled to score in ACC play (4.0 points per game) but his defense has picked up, especially the past two games (seven steals in wins over Maryland and Georgia Tech).
Like most freshman, Purvis plays better at home, but his effort at Wake Forest on Tuesday was notable for its production (team-best 18 points) and intensity.
Strickland, a senior, has never lost a game to State in his career. That experience has to count for something. Edge: Strickland.
Scott Wood vs. Reggie Bullock
It's not an accident that UNC's recent surge has coincided with Bullock's uptick in scoring. When Bullock, who has the rare ability to shoot and create offense with his defense, is good, so is UNC. Conversely, State's problems in the past three games have a direct link to Wood, who has made only 6 of 21 of his 3-pointers over that stretch. Wood, a senior, has struggled throughout his career against the more athletic Tar Heels. He faces an uphill challenge on both ends of the court with Bullock. Edge: Bullock
C.J. Leslie vs. James Michael McAdoo
The NBA scouts will tell you this is all McAdoo — as will Oklahoma State, Maryland, Clemson, Wake Forest. But Duke's Mason Plumlee will tell you this is Leslie's matchup.
If the fully-engaged Leslie, who scored 25 in the 86-74 win over Duke on Jan. 12, shows up tonight, than he has an advantage over McAdoo and any other big in the ACC.
If not, the floor is open for McAdoo. It's difficult to envision a scenario where UNC wins without a big game from McAdoo, who's not enough of a shot-blocker to handle a fully motivated Leslie. Edge: Leslie
|Digger Phelps, right, laughs with Jalen Rose, center, and Rece Davis during the broadcast of ESPN's College GameDay Saturday morning, January 26, 2013, from PNC Arena. Hundreds of N.C. State fans attended the broadcast.|
Hubert might consider changing his name to "Devin" after Clemson's Devin Booker (27 points) and Wake Forest's Devin Thomas (25 points) busted up State's interior defense the past two games. Even going back to the Duke game, reserves Amile Jefferson and Josh Hairston put up good combined numbers in this spot.
Hubert, Brice Johnson and Joel James will all get their minutes against Howell, who quite simply has been N.C. State's hardest working, most consistent, most valuable and best player over the first 19 games of the season. Edge: Howell
Few coaches get as much out of as many players as Roy Williams. UNC has more parts and Williams has more patience with those parts than Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried, who has ostensibly settled on a six-man rotation. For the most part, freshman T.J. Warren with his old-man scoring guile, has been very good for the Wolfpack, particularly in transition. But UNC can get points off the bench (P.J. Hairston), some defense (Johnson) and fouls (James) to wear down out State's bigs. Edge: UNC
UNC has won 13 straight and 19 of 20 against State under Williams. His great teams have crushed State, his young teams have humiliated State and his NIT team swept State. Williams isn't just in State's kitchen, he bought the house and has painted every room light blue.
N.C. State nearly beat UNC last March, in a classic game in the ACC tournament. Much of the same parts for the Wolfpack return from that game but will they finally be able to get over the hump?
So there you have it. Only about six and a half more hours ...