No. 7 UNC vs. N.C. State
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Smith Center
TV/Radio: ESPN/WRDU-FM 106.1/WRAL-FM 101.5
WHO HAS THE EDGE
Kendall Marshall, 6-4, So. vs. Lorenzo Brown, 6-5, So.
Marshall leads the ACC in assists, with 9.5 per game, but Brown isn't far behind with an average of 6.9 points per game. Brown is also the better scorer (12 points per game) and defender. Marshall said on Wednesday that Brown was having the best season of any point guard in the ACC and that's difficult to argue.
EDGE: N.C. State
Reggie Bullock, 6-7, So. vs. Scott Wood, 6-6, Jr.
Bullock enters the starting lineup in place of Dexter Strickland, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last week at Virginia Tech. Bullock has been UNC's most prolific 3-point shooter and his defense has improved tremendously. Wood leads the Wolfpack in scoring (13.3 ppg) and against Miami he set the ACC record for consecutive free throws made (58).
Harrison Barnes, 6-8, So. vs. C.J. Williams, 6-5, Sr.
During the second half of his team's victory last week at Virginia Tech, Barnes scored 21 of his 27 points and showed why many expected him to be a national player of the year candidate. He leads UNC with 17.4 points per game. Williams has been solid for State, averaging 12 points and shooting 35 percent from 3-point range.
John Henson, 6-11, Jr. vs. C.J. Leslie, 6-8, So.
Henson has averaged a double-double this season (14.5 points, 10.1 rebounds) and has been perhaps the Tar Heels' most consistent player. Leslie has shown significant improvement under first-year coach Mark Gottfried but he faces a difficult matchup. Henson dominated this series last year, with 16 points and 16 rebounds in UNC's win in Chapel Hill, and 15 rebounds and 6 blocks in the Heels' victory in Raleigh.
Tyler Zeller, 7-0, Sr. vs. Richard Howell, 6-8, Jr.
Zeller has been UNC's most reliable player since the start of ACC play. He hasn't scored less than 14 points in any conference game, and has had at least 8 rebounds in those games, too. Howell is nearly averaging a double-double, with 11.9 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
P.J. Hairston, 6-5, Fr., James Michael McAdoo, 6-9, Fr.; Stilman White, 6-0, Fr.; and Justin Watts, 6-5, Sr. vs. DeShawn Painter, 6-9, Jr.; Alex Johnson, 5-10, Sr. and Thomas de Thaey, 239, Fr.
Hairston is now UNC's sixth-man, a role in which Bullock had excelled before Strickland's injury. McAdoo is still searching for his role, and White and Watts have been asked only to play a few minutes here and there. Hairston has made just 2 of his past 14 3-pointers. White will be asked to play a few minutes to give Kendall Marshall a rest. Painter has averaged 11 points over the Wolfpack's past three games, while Johnson provides some key depth.
The stakes are high for both teams. UNC is riding a 29-game home winning streak, the longest in school history, and the Tar Heels are hoping to keep pace amid the top of the ACC standings. The Wolfpack have lost 10 consecutive games against the Tar Heels and the significance of a win in the Smith Center couldn't be overstated in Gottfried's first season. At 4-1 in the league, State hasn't entered a game against UNC with as good of an ACC record since 2004.
EDGE: N.C. State