Two of the brightest teams the ACC conference has to offer. Both teams are coming off of morale-boosting wins which should lead to a sparkling match up! The North Carolina Tar Heels just came off a OT thriller against Clemson which they won 89-86. On the other hand the North Carolina State Wolfpack beat a #21 ranked Virginia Tech team 104-78. This leads up to the epic match up of UNC vs NC State. Both of these team will look to keep pace during ACC play but who has the competent talent to pull this off?
The North Carolina Tar Heels
The #14 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels are reeling after a tough, hard-fought win against the Clemson Tigers. Clemson didn’t make it easy after G Marcquise Reed nailed a clutch 3 with 20 seconds remaining in regulation. In a close back-and-forth game, G Joel Berry ll was the player that kept them in it. Putting up 21 points in the 2nd half/OT and 31 total points for the game can be seen as the sole reason this game didn’t get out of hand. Berry ll also added five rebounds and three assists to go with his 7 3-pointers for the game. G Justin Jackson and C Kennedy Meeks wouldn’t be showed up or outdone as they also had big contributions. Justin Jackson had 18 points while Kennedy Meeks added 14 points with 16 rebounds. Meeks showed up big in this game finishing a lay-up with just 71 seconds left in OT which would be known as the go-ahead bucket. Most fans and pundits saw this finish as a crucial win in the season for the Tar Heels. UNC would usually lose these type of games early in the year but proved they have heart. North Carolina’s confidence will sky rocket after showing the toughness it takes in tight games as we near the ACC Tournament and March Madness.
The North Carolina State Wolfpack
After a blow out win against the No. 21 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies, the North Carolina State Wolfpack are flying high. NBA prospect G Dennis Smith Jr. showed why he’s touted to go top 10 in the upcoming NBA Draft. He posted the 2nd triple-double in NC State history with 27 points, 11 assists, and 11 rebounds. The first to do it was another star guard Julius Hodge back in 2002. Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only Wolfpack player to play well. Senior guard Terry Henderson added 22 points(17 points in the 1st half) with four 3-pointers. Also, Junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu was a perfect 9-9 from the field posting 20 points with 11 rebounds. A VTech team that had just beaten No 5 Duke got demolished by a total team effort as the Wolfpack shot 64% against an NC State team that are now 13-3 and are primed to face one of the best collegiate basketball teams in the world.
Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels vs North Carolina State Wolfpack
In one of the most highly anticipated ACC games of the year, NC State, and UNC will look to keep winning but only one will come away happy with the result. The two-star point guards Joel Berry ll and Dennis Smith Jr. will look to duplicate their last game’s performance. But this game will come down to the role players. On UNC’s team, will Justin Jackson and Kennedy Meeks show up to prove the doubters wrong? Or will Terry Henderson and Abdul-Malik Abu play lights out again? Only time will tell which team comes out on top. Whichever team wins the 3-point and rebounding battle will come out on top in my estimation. The Tar Heels have more quality talent and forward Theo Pinson could be making his return which would boost UNC’s chances. Pinson has been out with a fracture in his foot but has been practicing the last few days and is close to returning. The Dean E Smith Center will surely be rocking on January 7th with the Wolfpack looking to upset another ranked team.