Local rivals collide in Raleigh

The seventh-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels season title, as they make the short trip to Raleigh to take on rival NC State in a conference battle at the RBC Center.

Roy Williams' Tar Heels enter the contest with a modest three-game win streak. The team made light work of the Clemson Tigers in Chapel Hill over the weekend, 74-52 to move to 10-2 in conference play. UNC resides at the top of the crowded ACC standings, tied with Duke and Florida State.

NC State is tied for fourth place in the league standings at 7-5. Mark Gottfried's first season in Raleigh has been successful thus far, with the team sitting nine games over .500 and positioning itself well for postseason consideration. However, the Wolfpack are in a midst of a brutal three-game gauntlet, that has already seen the team drop contests to Duke (78-73) and most recently, Florida State (76-62).

North Carolina holds a sizeable advantage in the all-time series at 145-75 and has won each of the last 11 meetings and 17 of the last 18 overall. The Tar Heels are seeking the regular-season sweep after posting a 74-55 win over the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill back on January 26th.

The Tar Heels once again took care of Clemson in Chapel Hill, moving to 56-0 against the Tigers at home in the series. Four of the five starters notched double figures in the win as the team was once again paced by its dynamic frontcourt. All-American Harrison Barnes led the charge with a game-high 24 points. Tyler Zeller and John Henson added 14 and 13 points, respectively, while Reggie Bullock chipped in with 11. Point guard Kendall Marshall was once again unstoppable as a facilitator, doling out a game-high 13 assists against just three turnovers.

It is the dominant frontcourt that fuels the UNC attack. North Carolina ranks second in the country in scoring (82.8 ppg), while leading the nation in rebounding (46.0 rpg) and rebounding margin (+11.6). Barnes has the ability to score both inside and out and leads the team with 18.0 ppg (second in the ACC). Tyler Zeller adds 15.6 ppg, while Henson comes in at 14.0 ppg. Henson and Zeller make up an unstoppable duo on the boards as Henson leads the ACC with 10.3 rpg, followed closely by Zeller's 9.5 rpg (third in the ACC). Marshall isn't much of a scorer at 6.6 ppg, but there isn't many distributors better in the country at 9.7 apg (second nationally). With 492 career assists, Marshall is closing in on 500 and will become just the fourth sophomore in ACC history to achieve that mark.

The Wolfpack shot a miserable .207 from the floor in the first half and committed 10 costly turnovers over the first 20 minutes of action to bury itself in a hole against Florida State. The team was unable to recover in the 14-point home loss to the Seminoles. The loss spoiled a strong performance by forward C.J. Leslie who just missed a double-double with 21 points and nine rebounds. Point guard Lorenzo Brown added 12 points to the cause, but the team got little offensive support elsewhere in the loss.

The Wolfpack lack a true go-to-guy at the offensive end, but instead relies on steady contributions from various sources. All five starters are currently averaging double figures, led by Leslie's 13.3 ppg. Scott Wood is a close second at 13.0 ppg, followed by Brown (12.1 ppg), C.J. Williams (11.7 ppg) and Richard Howell (11.0 ppg). Brown is not only a solid scorer, but one of the ACC's top distributors, averaging 6.5 apg (second in the conference). Howell is also one of the conference's best at what he does, ranking fourth in the ACC in rebounding (9.2 rpg).