North Carolina Tar Heels vs. NC State Wolfpack Pick & Prediction MARCH 2nd 2024

While RJ Davis’ 42 points were historic and ground-breaking in a victory over Miami on Monday, No. 9 North Carolina will aim for more of a team effort on Saturday when it hosts rival North Carolina State in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina (22-6, 14-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off its third straight win, one in which Davis made his case for ACC Player of the Year even stronger. He carried the Tar Heels to a 75-71 victory over Miami as the only player on his team to score in double figures, on 14-of-22 shooting from the field.

The 42 points were not only a career high for Davis — who leads the ACC in scoring this season with an average of 21.7 points per game — but it also broke a scoring record for the Dean Smith Center, previously set by Tyler Hansbrough with 40 points in 2006. It was the most points any Tar Heel had scored in regulation since Charlie Scott had 43 in 1970.

“I’m just locked in. I’m confident in myself and in my shot,” Davis said. “I’m also getting open. My teammates are doing a great job of setting screens and finding me to make these shots. Once I get in my groove like that, it feels like I can’t miss. I actually feel like I could have had 50, but I missed free throws and whatnot.”

Davis’ heroics were needed because he was the only consistent Tar Heel offensively. Going 12-of-21 from the free-throw line as a team put the Heels in danger of getting upset by the Hurricanes.

“He put the team on his back,” coach Hubert Davis said. “It wasn’t just points. I thought he was great defensively.”

While the Tar Heels are jockeying for NCAA Tournament seeding, North Carolina State (17-11, 9-8) is in danger of missing the 68-team field. The Wolfpack need to start stacking big wins to improve their resume for March Madness. This game presents the Wolfpack with a chance to get a coveted Quadrant 1 victory.

North Carolina State went 3-4 in February and is coming off a 90-83 loss at Florida State on Tuesday. Five Wolfpack players scored in double figures, led by Jayden Taylor’s 24 points, but NC State’s defense didn’t play well enough as FSU shot 59.7 percent from the floor, its best mark in ACC play this season.

“When you score 83 points, you should be able to come out here with a win, and certainly we didn’t do a good job,” Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts said. “Our defense didn’t travel, and that’s the tough part about tonight. Our defense has been pretty good on the road thus far, and tonight, we didn’t do it.”

DJ Horne leads North Carolina State in scoring this season with an average of 17.5 points per game.

UNC beat North Carolina State 67-54 in Raleigh on Jan. 10. The Wolfpack haven’t won in Chapel Hill since 2018.

–Field Level Media

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