North Carolina (20-7, 10-4) vs. N.C. State (17-10, 7-7)
Raleigh, N.C. -- PNC Arena
Wednesday, 8 p.m.
ACC Network (Tim Brant, Mike Gminski)
"We've got 17 wins, we're hungry. We're playing a game on Wednesday, that I'm sure most people are going to expect us to get beat by 20 or so, 20 or 25. North Carolina's the hottest team in America, nobody's playing hotter than North Carolina right now." – N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried
“He scores from the outside, he scores on offensive rebounds, he scores from the free throw line, he scores taking the ball to the basket. He really is a load to guard.” – UNC head coach Roy Williams on T.J. Warren
"This is the classic David and Goliath.” – Gottfried
Since the Last Meeting: N.C. State enters Wednesday’s contest with a 17-10 (7-7 ACC) record. Since losing in Chapel Hill on Feb. 1, the Wolfpack has won three of its five games. Gottfried’s squad outlasted Miami, 56-55, in Coral Gables before earning revenge against Wake Forest, 82-67. N.C. State then lost a heartbreaker at then-No. 1 Syracuse, 56-55, and dropped its next game at Clemson by 17 points. The Wolfpack bounced back on Saturday with a 71-64 win at Virginia Tech.
Warren Gunning for ACC POY Honors: It goes without saying that T.J. Warren is the reason N.C. State has surpassed preseason expectations to date. The sophomore wing continued his strong play to close 2013 into the ACC season and leads the league in scoring (23.3 ppg). In conference play, Warren is averaging 22.7 points on 50.4 percent shooting and 6.4 rebounds per game. He’s also shooting 36.4 percent from 3-point range (16-of-44). The downside to his game has been an 11:35 assist-turnover ratio, although that may speak more to his teammates than his own shortcomings.
Switch at Point: Sophomore guard Tyler Lewis started N.C. State’s first four games at point, then was benched and played 20 or more minutes just twice over the next 18 games as Anthony Barber took the reins. Barber lost his starting spot after the Wolfpack’s loss at UNC and his minutes have taken a significant hit ever since – he’s topped 16 minutes just once over the last five games and logged four minutes in Blacksburg on Saturday. The official word for the changing of the guard was that Barber got sick in the days following the UNC loss. Lewis has secured the job for now after dishing out 31 assists to just four turnovers over the past five games.
Washington & Lee
Turner Solidified as Option B: LSU transfer Ralston Turner has settled into a starting spot since the Wolfpack’s win over Maryland on Jan. 20. The 6-foot-5, 205-pound guard has started nine games in a row and has scored in double digits in 10 of N.C. State’s 14 ACC games. Turner is the only player other than Warren averaging double digits (11.5 ppg) in ACC play, although his shooting percentages – 39.4 percent, 33.7 percent from 3 - have dropped during that span.
RPI Watch: N.C. State’s NCAA Tournament hopes are dim, although a win over No. 19 North Carolina would give the Wolfpack faithful some hope as March nears. N.C. State, which stands at No. 55 in the RPI, is 0-7 against top-50 RPI opponents. UNC (No. 22) and Pittsburgh (No. 46) represent the only remaining chances for the Wolfpack to impress the selection committee before postseason play.
Beyond the Arc: Wednesday’s contest pits the worst 3-point shooting team in N.C. State (28.7) against the best 3-point defense in UNC (31.0) in ACC play. The Wolfpack has made a league-low 58 3-pointers – 4.1 makes per game – against a Tar Heel allowing 5.3 makes on 17.1 attempts per game.
Last Meeting: The Tar Heels defeated the Wolfpack, 84-70, at the Smith Center on Feb. 1, 2014. UNC built a 40-23 halftime lead and coasted to victory behind Leslie McDonald’s 20 points. James Michael McAdoo posted a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds while Marcus Paige added 15 points.
Series History: UNC leads the all-time series with N.C. State, 149-76. The Tar Heels have won 15 of the last 16 and 38 of the last 47 in this rivalry. UNC is 13-4 against N.C. State in Raleigh since 1996.
12 Tyler Lewis (5-11, 170, So.) - 4.1 ppg, 3.5 apg
22 Ralston Turner (6-5, 205, Jr.) - 10.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg
24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 215, So.) - 23.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg
32 Kyle Washington (6-9, 225, Fr.) - 5.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg
14 Jordan Vandenberg (7-1, 245, Sr.) - 4.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg
2 Anthony Barber (6-2, 170, Fr.) - 9.4 ppg, 3.7 apg
5 Desmond Lee (6-4, 200, Jr.) - 9.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg
10 Lennard Freeman (6-8, 245, Fr.) - 3.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg
Roster & Bios
(Photos by USA Today Sports)