Since losing to NC State on Jan. 22, Miami has won seven of 10 to climb back into the NCAA tournament picture, and now it would be tough to argue that State's better than the Hurricanes. It took some time for Reggie Johnson to approach something resembling game shape, while Kenny Kadji has only gotten better as the year has progressed. Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant haven't been the effective high-workload guys they might have been under Frank Haith, but they're also not the ineligible effective high-workload guards they might have been under Frank Haith, so you win some and you lose some.
The Hurricanes hit 61% of their two-point attempts in the first meeting, and without an aberrant 2-20 effort from beyond the arc, they probably would have won that game. Since they are not likely to shoot 10% from three in this game, State's going to have to step up the interior defense. Let's hope that playing against Kadji in the first meeting provided some tangible benefit. Johnson's bull-in-a-China-shop game is familiar enough by now, but Kadji was a real problem for State in that first game.
We are not only in the reckless drinking stage of the season, obviously, we're in the must-win stage as well. If there is to be any hope for this NC State team's NCAA chances without an ACC tournament title, the Pack can't lose between now and the ACC tournament semifinals. Cheers.