For the first time since Jim Valvano was coaching, North Carolina faces N.C. State when it has both a competitive team and a coach who cares about the rivalry. Les Robinson and Sidney Lowe cared, but never had the horses. As memorable as Lowe’s one victory was, the 2007 “Red Blazer Game,” he lost the next 10 meetings.
Herb Sendek definitely had capable teams -- and was fortunate enough to face UNC during the darkest days of the Matt Doherty Era -- but, famously and lamentably, did everything he could to downplay the rivalry. Over the past few years, the most heated incidence of this rivalry was played at N.C. Central: the Pro-Am matchup two summers ago between the incoming freshmen who are now sophomores.