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Joe Ovies

Talking Points: Heels & Pack surging

Posted March 7, 2013

1. Last year North Carolina State University was desperately looking for wins to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament, so playing on Thursday in the ACC Tournament ultimately played to their advantage. Now the Wolfpack is looking to avoid that opening round and position itself for the easiest run possible through Greensboro.

Unfortunately for NC State, it's up to Virginia at this point. 

"We can all sit around and say 'if that happened and if that happened,'" said Mark Gottfried. "What we need to do is play our best basketball, and we need to go on the road to Tallahassee with that same mindset." NC State takes 81-66 win over Wake Forest Slideshow: NC State takes 81-66 win over Wake Forest

As added motivation, Gottfried ditched the usual coach-speak in favor of having his players engage in scoreboard watching. If the Wolfpack take care of their own business against Florida State and the Cavaliers split their final two games, the fourth seed goes to NC State.

2. The highlights of Senior Night for Richard Howell and Scott Wood didn't happen on the court. Howell's moments came during the introductions when he brought out his adorable daughter and after the game when he received high praise from Mark Gottfried. Meanwhile, Wood had his last opportunity to hold court with the media horde and drop a few quotables.

On the court, the seniors pushed through some struggles and inched closer to reaching specific milestones. Howell is a few shy of 1,000 rebounds and Wood needs nine more 3-pointers to catch Rodney Monroe's record.

Jay Lewis, the other senior, eventually came off the bench when the game was well out of reach for Wake Forest. Encouraged by the "we want Jay!" chants, Lewis got the biggest pop from the crowd after burying a 3-pointer in the closing minute. 

3. Time to play everybody's favorite game -- "CJ or Calvin?"

Leslie overcame a sluggish start of his own to finish with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting and 10 rebounds. Along with the double-double, he blocked four shots and dished out four assists (including a filthy alley-oop transition to Lorenzo Brown). Impressively, Leslie cut the turnovers out and kept silly mistakes like goaltending out his game.

Let's see what the judges think. Did we see CJ or Calvin in possibly his last game at PNC Arena?

The judges say, "Calvin."

4. After six straight wins since the loss at Duke, the North Carolina bandwagon is nearing capacity. The Tar Heels appear to be peaking at the right time with the much-discussed lineup, even if Roy Williams says he has no idea how to make a peak. All he's asking is for each Tar Heel to "bust your tail" everyday and the results will follow.   North Carolina Logo More UNC Stories

Those results now include removal from the NCAA Tournament bubble and a bye in the ACC Tournament. Beating Duke on Saturday in Chapel Hill will push North Carolina into a second place tie with the Blue Devils and give them the third seed in Greensboro.

5. In attempts to dissect North Carolina's streak, detractors are quick to point out the schedule has been rather kind.

Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and Maryland won't be NCAA Tournament teams. Virginia, squarely on the bubble, can't seem to win away from Charlottesville. NC State would be considered their lone "good win" in the bunch.

But here's something to consider: The Tar Heels went to College Park and came away with a win. Duke and NC State didn't. Also consider so-called givens, like Miami hosting Georgia Tech last night, end up with disastrous results for the favored team.

Rather than focusing on the difficulty of the opponent, focus on how North Carolina is playing with the sense of urgency and poise required of teams looking to make deep runs in March. 

6. Another big opponent, another impressive showing on the glass. North Carolina pulled down 33 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards, and essentially matched efficiency against one of the taller interiors in the ACC. Reggie Bullock and P.J. Hairston combined to grab 20 rebounds.

7. The All-ACC First Team appears solidified with Erick Green, Shane Larkin, Mason Plumlee and Joe Harris. It's that final spot that's up in the air.

Bullock has elevated himself from Second Team lock to being in same the mix with Richard Howell and Seth Curry for inclusion in the First Team. Whoever gets slotted on the top team will do so by the slightest of margins.

18 Comments

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  • ER Tar Heel Mar 9, 7:57 a.m.

    Sorry, I was probably a little harsh there, I see that the article said "detractors" and Joe actually stepped up and said that no matter the schedule the Heels are playing pretty well and taking care of business. But I still think if State is going to be considering "surging", it should be pointed out that they have only played the bottom of the ACC.

  • ER Tar Heel Mar 9, 7:51 a.m.

    Really, Joe? Can you write one thing about the Heels without the snide negative comments? You pick on UNC's schedule, but don't mention State's at all. In State's "streak", they have knocked off powerhouses Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Florida State, and Wake Forest. The dead bottom of the ACC schedule. In the only game against anyone decent, they got their tails completely kicked in the last 7 minutes to get blown out. And you criticize UNC for winning at Maryland (where, by the way, State lost), and at home against State and Virginia? That is why you struggle so mightily to get any sort of credibility.

    If you want to get real technical, Carolina has played everyone in the upper half of the ACC twice, and still pulled off a 12-5 record to this point. State has had about the easiest ACC schedule you can possibly play, getting everyone in the bottom half twice. They only played Miami, Virginia, and Maryland once.

    Face it, State has been a national disappointment up to this point (they can still turn it around), whereas Carolina is a completely different team than it was a month ago. Big difference. Just paint an accurate picture ..... if you're going backhand Carolina because of it's schedule, then point out the simple fact that State's has been the weakest it could possibly have been.

  • Packman24 Mar 8, 8:08 a.m.

    I agree with ugottabekiddingme. State has hardly "surged" since the loss to UNC, which... View More

    — Posted by cjw6105

    Don't hate congradulate. Go Pack!!!

  • cjw6105 Mar 7, 8:18 p.m.

    I agree with ugottabekiddingme. State has hardly "surged" since the loss to UNC, which was downright coyote ugly. The home win over BC, the weakest ACC team, proved little if anything. The win at Georgia Tech wasn't bad considering Tech won at Miami last night, but overall GT has been a true Rambling Wreck this season. Last night's game vs a poorly-coached Wake Forest team took little effort for State to win. The Saturday game in Tallahassee will be tougher than the previous 3, so it isn't ALL up to Virginia just yet.

    When (and if) State wins 3 games in Greensboro next week, then apply the word "surge". But not now, please.

  • LtDansMagicLegs Mar 7, 7:37 p.m.

    Pack surging?!?...they have only played the last two placed teams since the heels beat... View More

    — Posted by ugottabkiddinme

    Because other than the UNC game they have won 6 of last 7. Not hard to figure out

  • ugottabkiddinme Mar 7, 6:30 p.m.

    Pack surging?!?...they have only played the last two placed teams since the heels beat them....how can you tell?..lol

  • Hokies94 Mar 7, 1:59 p.m.

    No question about it. Both teams are playing very well and have improved. Leslie did a solid job last night.

  • kornfan2448 Mar 7, 1:49 p.m.

    "...the North Carolina bandwagon is nearing capacity."

    Ovies is such a homer!

  • JustAName Mar 7, 1:30 p.m.

    Duke - number one in the East bracket playing a 'pansy' (play in team) in round one

    Nothing new there. Of course, it is always nice to seem some play in team knock off a number 1 seed.

  • rfred16 Mar 7, 1:12 p.m.

    So , Mr. Ovies what is it going to be? Pack and Heels surging,or Duke with Kelly back, all the... View More

    — Posted by jrt0856

    I give the slight edge to Duke, and say "slight" only because UNC is playing better since Roy finally agreed to start P.J. and go with the smaller lineup. Coupled with it being a home game for UNC and senior night, this could be a very close battle, and UNC might even take it. But, with Kelly now back, and if Curry and the others are shooting well, I still feel Duke gets the W....Put this game on a neutral court, and Duke wins rather comfortably...Its all about home court this year in the ACC (with a few exceptions - Miami/GaTech....wow)

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