North Carolina and Wake Forest have similar conference records as they head into Saturday night's meeting in Winston-Salem, N.C., but the perception of these teams couldn't be much different.
Just when it appeared North Carolina might be picking up momentum, the Tar Heels (12-5, 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) nose-dived in Tuesday night's 85-57 loss at Miami.
"Very disappointed in our fight, our competitiveness, our effort," UNC coach Hubert Davis said. "In order to be a good team, you have to have leadership and there has to be somebody outside of myself, outside of the coaching staff, a voice in the locker room that's amongst the players that binds us together."
The Tar Heels are looking for adjustments, perhaps mostly in mindset.
"We've just got to turn it around," North Carolina guard RJ Davis said. "We just have to change our whole mindset. There are no walk-in-the-park kind of games for us, no easy game for us. Moving forward, something has got to change."
Hubert Davis said he believes the Tar Heels are capable of being a strong team, but something is missing. He said he'd do anything to light a spark.
Meanwhile, Wake Forest (15-4, 5-3) has won back-to-back road games.
In Wednesday night's 80-64 victory at Georgia Tech, the Demon Deacons were without coach Steve Forbes, who was ill. It seems like he'll be back for the North Carolina game.
"He'll be there," said Wake assistant coach Brooks Savage, who filled in. "It was in everybody's best interest that he take some time and not travel and get ready to go for Saturday."
The Demon Deacons have reached the 15-win mark for only the third time in a 12-season span.
"We've got a tough group, they're battle-tested," Savage said. "We've got a good thing going."
Damari Monsanto, a transfer from East Tennessee State who has been out with an injury, made his Wake Forest debut this week. He connected on two 3-pointers and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds to go with two blocked shots.
"I thought he was really good defensively," Savage said.
Five of Wake Forest's eight ACC opponents have been held to less than 40 percent shooting from the field.
Armando Bacot's 15 points and 12 rebounds were about the only highlights for North Carolina against Miami. He left the game late after falling to the floor, with an elbow and hip absorbing the contact. Hubert Davis said that other than soreness, he doesn't believe Bacot incurred a long-term injury.
North Carolina announced Friday that guard Anthony Harris was done for the season, but didn't mention an injury and said he will continue to practice and participate in other team activities.
"We are disappointed for Anthony and our team, but he will continue to contribute and we know he will work hard so he can play for us again next season," Davis said in a statement.
North Carolina has won eight of the last nine meetings with Wake Forest.
--Field Level Media