NC State vs. UNC Final Score Prediction for Saturday, Mar. 2

The stakes are high in this in-state matchup as we enter the final stretch of the season.
Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

After an underwhelming few weeks, North Carolina is back on track with three straight victories, most recently against Miami at home. It wasn't the most convincing showing on Monday night as the Tar Heels barely squeezed out a victory against the Hurricanes, but a win is a win at this stretch of the season with only three games left in conference play.

The ninth-ranked Tar Heels take on their rivals NC State at home to take a big step in clinching the ACC regular-season championship. North Carolina has historically dominated their in-state opponents at home, being 30-7 all-time and 5-0 in their last five. Their fans hope this trend continues on Saturday.

NC State vs. UNC Prediction & Preview

D.J. Horne has cooled down a bit in the last two games after a hot stretch for the Wolfpack. But he will continue to be relied upon heavily if NC State is to have a chance. He has been the only consistently productive offensive player for the Wolfpack all season. D.J. Burns Jr. can make a big impact at times but he is inconsistent and can't play too many minutes.

NC State needs elite production from Horne and Burns Jr against North Carolina's elite defense. The Tar Heels force their opponents to only 40.6% shooting from the field. They are tough, physical, and the best rebounding team in the ACC. They are ranked the seventh-best defense in the country in Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings.

When they are locked in, North Carolina is very tough to beat. I expect them to be locked in against State, which gives them a big advantage, as we have seen in their dominant 67-54 win against them on the road earlier in the season.

North Carolina currently has the eighth-best odds (+430) in the country to make the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. A dominant win against NC State will go a long way in making their case for a top seed, making their road to the Final Four easier.

My final score prediction: NC State 69 - North Carolina 78

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Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.