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NC State


North Carolina

College Basketball



since losing back-to-back Games to open January, North Carolina has gone somewhat under the radar on a national level. The Tar Heels have reeled off some nice wins and still have a shot at the ACC regular season title, although it’s a bit of a stretch. The same can’t be said for NC State, which is in dire need of a quality road win. The Wolfpack are fighting by the day for a chance at an NCAA Tournament bid, but with their current resume, that seems unlikely.

Considering how NC State has looked on the road this season (not including Wednesday’s Game against Pittsburgh), there’s little reason to go against UNC. The Tar Heels fell at home to Wofford and haven’t lost in Chapel Hill outside of that Game. They’ve run through the ACC with wins over Boston College and Clemson standing out in recent contests. To steal this one, a number of things have to go right for the Wolfpack.

The big problems are that NC State ranks as one of the worst defenses in the conference, as well as one of the worst teams shooting from distance. Those two things usually don’t lead to road upsets and that’ll likely be a problem again.

The Heels don’t have the same size as previous seasons, but they still attack the glass a ton and are one of the best in the country at doing so. Leading scorer and rebounder LUke Maye (17.8 ppg, 10.5 reb) often struggles against better teams, but also dominates the weaker ones and that’s what could happen here. The big matchup in the paint will be Maye against Omer Yurtseven, NC State’s 7-foot lanky big man that can fill it up from deep. Maye does similar things as a shooter, but he also gives up a few inches so that could definitely be an issue. If Yurtseven’s length is a problem for Maye, that will open the door for NC State to be competitive.

That may be hoping for a lot, but Yurtseven has been huge in recent Games for the Wolfpack, hitting at least 22 points in three of his last five. But to cover this Game on the road, everyone else will have to step up from Allerik Freeman, who will likely be matched with Theo Pinson, to point guard Braxton Beverly. Joel Berry is the other UNC player that needs to be contained and Beverly will get that task. At this point, there’s no reason to believe NC State has the tools to keep Berry in check, especially since it’s allowing close to 40 percent from deep in ACC play. And while Abdul-Malik Abu and Lennard Freeman provide experience and size, those two haven’t been major factors as of late.

NC State often has the size to deal with UNC, but that never seems to be enough. New head coach Kevin Keatts would like to change that trend, but it’s doubtful that will happen in his first road Game in Chapel Hill. The Wolfpack have the tools to keep things close early, but due to a lackluster defense and inconsistent scoring, it’s hard to see them being taking this down to the wire.

Our pick – North Carolina -12.5

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