January 9, 2014

Preview: First of two for the Hoos

After a dominating win against Wake Forest on Wednesday night in a game in which UVa looked like it might just be the team that all the preseason expectations counted on, the Cavaliers take their 11-4 (2-0 ACC) record on the road this Saturday bound for a matchup in Raleigh against NC State (5 p.m., ESPN2).

Last season, Mark Gottfried and the Wolfpack all but ended any hopes Virginia had of making the NCAA Tournament when they dispatched the Wahoos 75-56 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro. The Pack has done that before, having eliminated UVa from the conference tournament in each of the last two seasons. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, have won both of the regular season meetings between the two schools in those seasons.

It all sets the stage for an intriguing matchup in PNC Arena, pitting two very different teams that came into the 2013-2014 season with very different ideas of what would happen.

This season, State is playing with what is almost an entirely new team after the departures of C.J. Leslie, Lorenzo Brown, Richard Howell, Scott Wood, and Rodney Purvis from the 2012-2013 squad. That group was picked to win the conference a season ago but finished fifth before losing their first game in the NCAA Tournament.

The Wolfpack entered this year with more modest expectations after losing so much experience and talent from a season ago and thus far, it's fair to say that NC State may have exceeded those expectations from those outside the program. They finished the non-conference slate 10-3, with wins over Tennessee and Northwestern. Currently 1-1 in ACC play, the Pack enters Saturday's game coming off of a nice win on Tuesday where they beat league newcomer Notre Dame on the road.

This weekend's matchup between NCSU and UVa is another chance for the Cavaliers to prove themselves to be one of the top teams in the conference, as many projected them to be before the season began. Last year Virginia struggled in ACC road games and Raleigh is one of the tougher environments to earn a road win in this conference.

It's a crucial one for the Wolfpack as well, a group that has already dropped one home ACC game (Pittsburgh) and is desperate for wins to improve their NCAA Tournament resume.

As we get you set for this weekend's conference showdown against NC State, we've taken a look at the Pack's roster and outlined what fans should expect to see go down in Raleigh.

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