NC State is in Chapel Hill this weekend for a pivotal series against the most vulnerable-looking Tar Heels team we've seen in a while. Getting two-of-three here is important for a few reasons:
1.) NC State's RPI is not so good right now, and the team is not in good shape for an NCAA tournament bid. Carolina sits in the RPI top-30, which means that wins this weekend are quality wins. According to the RPI Needs Report, the Pack needs an 18-8 finish in order to crack the RPI top-45.
2.) At 5-7 in conference play, State sits 7th in the standings. Only the top 8 make the ACC tournament. Obviously, if we miss the ACC tourney, we can forget about the NCAAs. The Tar Heels are only a game behind us, so if they take 2-of-3, they pull even. (Although if things play out like they should, this is moot. UNC and NC State are both clearly a tier above Duke/Maryland/BC/Wake. Tiers.)
3.) It gets easier from here, and it's about time. State has Maryland and Boston College next; those two are a combined 7-17 in ACC play. We need to get those series either way, but there's a lot less pressure if we leave this weekend with a 7-8 record rather than a 6-9 or 5-10 disaster.