NC State is about to embark on an 18 game journey through the ACC. Each game counts as one; however, we all know that some games are worth more than just a notch in the win column. Saturday will mark the opening of ACC play for NC State. What does the ACC schedule bring? It brings the toughest games and demands energy and discipline. There are no so-called easy wins in the ACC. An off night will almost guarantee a loss, but the beauty of the Atlantic Coast Conference is each night is an opportunity. The ACC is the best conference in America and the best place to prepare for the NCAA Tournament.
On December 29th, 10 ACC teams are ranked in the top 50 in RPI. The RPI is used to measure a team’s strength of schedule and their wins and losses. NC State currently sports an RPI of 38 and will face the other nine ACC teams inside the top 50. Thus far NC State has not faced the type of competition they are about to experience; however, they have improved. Mark Gottfried has lots of talent and depth that will allow them to compete in each game.
Dennis Smith Jr is as talented as they come and should find an extra gear as the competition increases. In addition to Smith, NC State has talented players on the perimeter who compliment Smith’s skill set. Torin Dorn has been rock solid doing all of the little things necessary to win games. Dorn’s efficiency from the field and willingness to rebound has helped NC State. Terry Henderson is thriving at guarding opposing teams best wing player, and knocking down shots. Henderson is averaging 16.4 PPG while shooting 47% from the field.
Mark Gottfried also has a full compliment of post players that offer diverse skill sets. Malik Abu is rounding into form by attacking the rim and not settling for jump shots. Abu is being physical and using his natural abilities to gobble up rebounds. In addition to Abu, NC State has prized freshman Omer Yurtseven at its’ disposal. Omer has the skill set, basketball IQ, and size that coaches dream about in a center. Beejay Anya and Ted Kapita have also been vital to NC State’s success giving the Pack toughness and more bodies to rotate in and out.
Maverick Rowan’s role from last season makes him an important piece off the bench. With Rowan anchoring the second unit and providing versatility NC State will be able to keep players fresh. Markell Johnson gives NC State a serviceable backup point guard who can run the team and pressure opposing teams on defense. The play of the bench for the Wolfpack will be critical to their success.
NC State has potential and positive attributes that make them a dangerous team in the ACC. Their depth and overall unselfish play make this a fun team to watch, but their youth will rear its ugly head in spurts. If the Pack can stay together trusting the process they should finish in the top half of the ACC or better.
What do you see in store for this team in ACC play? Will they find success? Will they be able to challenge Duke, UNC, Louisville,Notre Dame, and FSU? It all starts this Saturday as State plays Miami.