The Tar Heels are one more step away from reaching the ACC Tournament finals. Their opponent? The streaking N.C. State Wolfpack. We all know that the Heels will be favored, but are the Wolfpack to be taken lightly?

Whoever wins early today books their date in the championship against the winner of Duke/Florida State.

Up first is North Carolina, who takes their eight-game winning streak into Philips Arena to battle it out with a Wolfpack squad that's won four in a row.

The NCAA basketball odds have the Tar Heels favored by as many as 9.5 points. They've gone 4-1 ATS in their last five as favorites with NCAA Basketball lines between 7.0-12.5. What seems to be the case for most of the early NCAA basketball matchups today, sportsbooks have held off on releasing a total. Do, however, check back closer to tip-off for updated betting odds.

N.C. State got here by smashing Boston College in the opening round and then topping Virginia by three in the quarter-finals.

It was the Wolfpack's third straight cover and they're now 4-0-1 ATS over their last five. C.J. Leslie was the man of the moment for the winners, recording 19 points and 14 rebounds in 31 minutes of work. Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell also scored in double figures.

Tar Heels' Dominance Continues

North Carolina, who held the number one seed, got a BYE in the first round and faced Maryland in the round of eight.

The Tar Heels survived an early John Henson injury to win by 16 points. Five different players scored in double figures, with James Michael McAdoo filling in to get 14 points and eight boards and Kendall Marshall accounting for 13 points and a game-high 12 assists.

We saw just how talented UNC is when Henson got hurt. It was business as usual, with McAdoo, a freshman, picking up the slack and performing admirably.

Henson's availability is unknown at this time, but his presence in the lineup would obviously be welcome news for coach Roy Williams.

However, I'm surprisingly going against the Tar Heels for this one and instead backing the resurgent Wolfpack to avoid a double-digit defeat.

I know N.C. State got beaten convincingly in both regular season meetings, but they have saved their best basketball for last, as State hasn't lost in two weeks.

Taking State to Cover

They have a point guard much in the same mold of Marshall in Brown, who loves to distribute the ball, and he's finding Leslie with regularity. Leslie has been terrific, getting double-doubles in four straight and five of his last six.

Scott WoodBut that's not it. The Wolfpack get double-digit scoring out of all five of their starters, with Howell, C.J. Williams and Scott Wood all very capable offensively. 

UNC's height has been too much for a lot of teams to handle, but N.C. State has Leslie and Howell in the post, who both average over 7.5 rebounds per contest. Not many teams can bang with the Tar Heels on the boards, but here's one that can. 

The Wolfpack have gone 9-5 SU and 11-3 ATS in 14 games away from home this season, both stellar marks for a team that competes in such a difficult conference. A lot of people slept on these guys, but their win over Virginia means we'll be seeing them dancing here shortly in the NCAA Tournament.

Will the Cinderella run continue? That's a tall order, though I do think the Wolfpack cover. 

NCAA Basketball picks: N.C. State Wolfpack +9.5


Wolfpack are 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall

Tar Heels are 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall

OVER is 12-5 in the last 17 head-to-head meetings

Tar Heels are 6-0 ATS in the last 6 head-to-head meetings