NC State takes on Louisville Sunday at 1 o’clock with coverage on the ACC Network. Louisville has been tough to beat at home with an 11-1 record. What are the keys to the game for NC State to gain another big ACC road victory?
The Pack must handle Louisville’s full-court press with patience and look to attack.
The Cardinals are among the best defensive teams in the country as they look to force teams out of their comfort zone with full-court hard-nosed defense. NC State will need to attack the press looking to score at the rim. Ball fakes can be helpful in beating a press because defenders gamble to make steals to create turnovers. The Wolfpack must capitalize when Louisville over commits on defense by attacking the rim. NC State needs a team effort to beat the pressure and cannot just look to Smith to do it all. The Pack’s chances of beating Louisville will come down to their ability to handle the press; if they control turnovers and attack they have an opportunity notch another road win.
Rebounds will be a huge factor for NC State if they are going to win.
Louisville is one of the premier rebounding teams in the NCAA. They average 41.8 RPG and are plus 7.3 in rebounding margin. NC State has got to find a way to compete on the glass if they are going to upset the Cards at home. It will be interesting to see if the pairing of Malik Abu and Ted Kapita can yield another strong effort as it did aginst Duke. Ted Kapita is willing to do all the dirty work underneath and that will be needed to combat Louisville’s length. NC State has to limit Louisville on the offensive glass to prevent easy second chance baskets. The Pack will need to be physical by putting a body on a player at all times because the Cardinals are too long and athletic to out jump.
Defensively NC State will need to force Donovan Mitchell into contested jump shots.
Dennis Smith will have the challenge of stopping Mitchell as Gottfried has used him to defend opposing teams best players. Mitchell is best at getting into the lane and finishing near the rim; however, he is less efficient shooting off the bounce. Smith needs to be physical with Mitchell taking away dribble penetration forcing him into contested two-pointers. With second-leading scorer, Quentin Snider out due to injury the Cards has relied heavily on Mitchell. NC State can cause Louisville to struggle offensively if they take away Mitchell.
NC State has a great opportunity to improve their resume for the NCAA tournament by beating another ranked foe on the road. The Pack must have toughness and desire to win. Malik Abu’s cannot get into foul trouble because NC State needs his rebounding and scoring. The Pack will need everyone pulling in the same direction to knock off a tough Louisville team at home. Game time is Sunday at 1 o’clock with coverage on The ACC Network.