What's Changed Since Then: Al Thorton has indeed been the heart and soul of the Seminole team, and has adapted just fine to a life sans Johnson, averaging 16.3 points a game and shooting 54.4% from the field. Toney Douglas (the transfer from Auburn) has also stepped right in to a confortable role, putting up 13.5 ppg and shooting 51.9%. FSU has also demonstrated more depth than previously thought, with nine players averaging 12+ minutes a game, and taking the floor in every contest.
The Seminoles have spent the season outside of the national limelight, but don't have a bad loss on their schedule, dropping only two games, on the road against Pittsburgh (66-88) and Wisconsin (68-81). Their sole impressive win was last months home win over Florida.
Florida State seems to have fixed last year's tendency to send their opponents to the charity stripe, and remain consistent in most other statistical categories. They lead the league in generating turnovers, but have less than stellar defensive rebounding as a consequence. That should be a boon for North Carolina if they can hold on to the ball, which hasn't been a problem for the Heels this season.
UNC should win this game - they should win all their conference games this year - but "should" is easier than actually accomplishing the goal. Florida State's one of the trickier matchups on the schedule this season, and a nice early judge of just how good this Carolina team really is.
The Heels are 4-1 against Florida State under Roy Williams, and 24-7 since they joined the ACC. The Seminoles haven't won in the Smith Center since 2000, and only three times ever. The first of these was, of course, the game that led to Sam Cassell's famous "wine and cheese crowd" comment in 1992.
Update [2007-1-7 19:35:22 by TH]: Make that, as pointed out in the comments, a "cheese and wine crowd." Which is a bit sillier, come to think of it, as I drank much more wine in college than I ate cheese.