By Tracy Schultz
We're used to seeing a big game on Monday night, but tonight we have two must-sees. North Carolina State, a team whose NCAA tournament chances are non-existent at this point, will try to keep its three-game win streak going against rival North Carolina.
Halfway across the country, a Texas A&M team that entered the season with Big 12 title hopes will try to take down an Oklahoma team that has yet to lose a conference game. While the Sooners and Aggies, both top 20 teams, are likely to draw a big audience in their primetime matchup, N.C. State could very well be the one worth watching.
- No team is more prepared for the emotions of a rivalry game than N.C. State. This entire season has been filled with emotion for the Wolfpack, whose head coach Kay Yow passed away last month after a lengthy battle with cancer. It would be silly to suggest they won't think of her on such a big night. They'll think of Yow every time they take the floor, especially at home where the court bears her name. Now, though, their focus must be getting a change at the postseason.
- N.C. State is in a must-win situation. With a 12-14 record, that's a lonshot a longshot. But, N.C. State is one of the best sub-.500 teams around. Six of the Wolfpack's losses have been by six points or less. They've already pushed North Carolina and Duke to overtime this season.
- The Wolfpack has got a balanced offense that includes the ACC's second-leading scorer, Shayla Fields, who averages 17.8 points.
- The Tar Heels thrive on turnovers, forcing 23.6 a game. They rank fourth in the country in steals (12.7 spg.) Fields and the rest of the offense do a good job of hanging onto the ball, though. In fact, they do it better than anyone else in the ACC. They had just 16 turnovers the last time out against UNC.
- Sophomore Tia Bell, who didn't play against the Tar Heels the first time, has been a spark on defense, blocking 14 shots in her last two starts. She tied a school record with eight in an upset over a ranked Virginia team.