North Carolina State has already taken down two ACC studs this season, and the Wolfpack are hungry for a third Tuesday when they travel to UNC for a college basketball odds battle.
Nobody is pushing the panic button in Chapel Hill just yet. After all, the North Carolina Tar Heels are still ranked 15th by the AP and 13th in the latest RPI, that second mark helped along greatly by playing the second-toughest schedule in the country.
Still, four losses in the last six games are very uncharacteristic for UNC, and Roy Williams' club will probably have to win out to earn a double-bye in this year's Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament as one of the league's top 4 teams.
The Tar Heels go for win No. 20 on the season Tuesday night when they host a North Carolina State Wolfpack that has already proven to be a thorn in the side of Duke and Louisville. ESPN3 will carry the contest at 8 PM (ET), and UNC is favored by 8½.
The NCAA basketball odds should have a total for the rivalry later this morning.
Heels Look To Continue Dominance Over Wolfpack
A win Tuesday would give the Tar Heels a sweep of this season's series after they sneaked past the Wolfpack in Raleigh about five weeks ago, 81-79. North Carolina State staged a late rally that just fell short, though the 'Pack did have enough at the end to cover as 4½ point home 'dogs.
A Tar Heel win would also give them exactly a 2/1 margin in the all-time series, UNC entering the contest with a 151-76 record vs. NC State. The victory in mid-January was North Carolina's 17th over the Wolfpack in the last 18 meetings, the only win for the Wolfpack in that span coming on their home floor in January 2013.
North Carolina has dominated NC State in Chapel Hill, not only taking the last 11 but doing so in runaway fashion with a nearly 19-point average margin of victory the last 10. The last time the Wolfpack won in Chapel Hill was 12 years ago, a 75-67 overtime win in February 2003.
'Pack Still Hopeful Of NCAA Tourney Invite
Despite taking down both Duke and Louisville, North Carolina State (16-11 straight up, 12-10-2 against the spread) is still on the bubble for a ticket to the Big Dance. Mark Gottfried's guys are dead-level at 7-7 in the ACC ranks after winning their last two, the first of those coming at Louisville 10 days ago.
The Wolfpack followed that up with a 69-53 decision at home vs. Virginia Tech last Saturday, giving them room to spare to cover the -13 line on the NCAA basketball odds. It was the third consecutive winning ticket for NC State backers, and they are 3-1-2 ATS on the road in conference play.
Injuries Leave Heels' Bench A Bit Short
There has been the distraction around the North Carolina (19-8 SU, 14-12-1 ATS) campus recently with the passing of coaching legend Dean Smith earlier this month, but the simple truth is the Tar Heels have not been able to beat the top teams in the conference this year. They are 1-4 vs. the four squads ahead of them in the ACC race -- Virginia, Louisville, Duke and Notre Dame -- after beating three of the four ranked teams on their nonconference slate, the only loss at season-long No. 1 Kentucky.
Williams has also had to deal with a long list of injuries to his reserves, and it appears he'll be without Joel Berry II for a second consecutive game as the freshman guard battles a stomach virus.
My guess is the total will be around the same spot it was in the first meeting, low-140s, and playing the 'over' for my free college basketball picks seems a safer choice than choosing a side.
NCAA Basketball Pick: NC State-North Carolina Over at BetOnline
Season: 52-45-2 (+2.5)