NC State Wolfpack vs. Long Beach State 49ers
Today | 2:00PM | Raleigh, NC | RSN (Fox Sports)
NC State is coming off a brilliant 21 point win over Northwestern and want to keep the momentum building as they take on the 1-8 Long Beach State 49ers.
Long Beach State is looking to turn things around after a 8 game skid that included losses to Arizona, Michigan, K State and Washington. Now, an 8 game losing streak is never good, but it’s not like they’ve played a light schedule either. The 49ers have been playing ranked teams and honestly have more experience with top tier teams than NC State does right now. Does that mean that the Wolfpack is going to have a tough time against them? I doubt it, but this team isn’t going to be surprised by NC State’s size or speed.
Players to watch: (Long Beach State)
Long Beach State is led by junior guard Mike Caffey who comes in averaging 16 points per game and over 4 assists. Caffey is good, but he’s only coming in at around 6’0 and with Barber and Lee both having great success on smaller guards thus far, I think I like State’s matchup with him.
Inside they have West Virginia transfer, in his second season with Long Beach State, Dan Jennings. He’s a big (and I mean BIG) 6’9 senior who actually could give the Pack some trouble. He averages 12 points and 8 boards per game. This guy is physically imposing and built like an elite football player, so he’s going to want to bang inside. Vandy is going to have to play smart and not get into foul trouble in this one.
Player to watch: (NC State)
Tonight I think the key is for Cat Barber and Jordan Vandenberg to play big. I think you could always put TJ in this category, because without him I’m not sure where State would get their scoring from, however Barber and Vandy have big matchups in this one. Barber is going to have to stop Caffey. This guy has scored over 20 points on numerous occasions already this season and he’s gong to try to get off early against State. He’s small, but he’s quick and he’s a real ball player. Barber will have his work cut out for him, but he’s already proven he’s a gamer on the defensive end.
As for Vandy, he’s going to face his biggest challenge thus far. Dan Jennings is a physical monster. He’s huge and he loves throwing his weight around. Big V hasn’t really gotten to play against any real front court talent quite yet, so this is a nice test for him. He’s prone to fouling when guys start bumping with him, so Gottfried is going to have to be on him all night. State needs him in the game on both ends of the floor, so keeping him off the sidelines will be vital.
Can NC State beat them?
If NC State doesn’t play awful then they should win by a nice margin. The key is going to be protecting the basketball and defending the Caffey/Jennings combo. Now, this game isn’t going to be some 3 point shoot out because neither team is having any luck behind the arc. The Pack comes in dead last in the ACC at 26.7% and Long Beach State isn’t much better at 27.2%. This is going to be a fast break game played on the break and around the rim.
The 49ers are still looking for role players to step up. They lost 4 of their top scorers last season and haven’t really been able to replace them. This is a team that has won the Big West Conference 3 times running and is used to winning, however after losing 8 straight they might be doing something wrong. State seems to be taking them on at the right time.
Here’s a nice video previewing the season for Long Beach State:
NC State’s Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Late Season Watchlist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award
NC State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Naismith Late Season Watchlist for the Coach of the Year Award.
The leader of our Pack 🐺🐺
— NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) February 21, 2024
Currently, Moore has led NC State from being unranked in the preseason polls, to #6 currently. The Wolfpack are 23-3, and numerous publications project them to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in 2020-21 and a Semifinalist in 2015-16.
NC State NET Rankings Report After Syracuse Loss
NC State lost to Syracuse 83-87 last night, and as a result, the Wolfpack fell 5 spots in the NET Rankings to #80. The Orange moved up 6 spots to #84.
NC State is now 9th in the ACC in the NET rankings.
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (NCAA)
Thoughts on NC State’s 83-87 Loss to Syracuse
NC State’s (16-10/8-7) 83-87 loss to Syracuse this evening might have been the nail-in-the-coffin when it comes to the Wolfpack’s NCAA Tournament aspirations. They were barely on the bubble as it was, but this game and the next two games against Boston College and Florida State were “must wins.” On top of that, the Wolfpack probably needed to beat Pitt in the regular season finale, and beat either Duke or UNC.
With this loss, NC State will need a miracle. They will need to win the rest of their regular season games, which concludes with 3 consecutive Quad 1 games.
In regards to this evenings game, it’s hard to beat a team when you allow them to shoot 61.3% in the first half, and allow a guy who averages 11.3 points per game (Chris Bell) to sink 8 of 9 three’s at the halfway mark. Sure, you could make the excuse that they were just hitting everything they threw up, but the defense was lackluster, and they failed to adjust to a player with a hot hand.
What I’m about to say isn’t meant to describe a moral victory for NC State. With that being said, this team didn’t give up, and clawed back from a 15-point halftime deficit (16-point at one point in the 2nd half), to take a 1-point lead with 3:15 left in the game. That was the first time the Wolfpack had led since it was 2-0.
Senior DJ Horne was sensational once again, scoring 25+ points for the 5th straight game, matching what Cat Barber did back in 2015-16. Horne finished with 32 points, hitting 11 of his 20 field goal attempts, and an insane 6 of 8 from three.
Could you argue that Horne was fouled on the last play? I guess, but I wouldn’t have called it.
Three other Wolfpack players scored in double figures: Ben Middlebrooks (12), DJ Burns (12) and Jayden Taylor (10). Honestly, they all shot well. Middlebrooks had a double-double, with 10 rebounds.
Mohamed Diarra was solid with 7 points (3-6) and 8 boards.
Syracuse came back to reality in the second half, and ended up shooting 51% from the field, but the Wolfpack shot 47%. Both teams shot well. In fact, NC State actually scored more points off of turnovers, had more second chance points and had more free throws.
You simply can’t put yourself in a position to dig yourself out of a 16-point deficit. You can’t allow a guy to make 8 of 9 three’s in the opening half, with 6 of them being practically uncontested.
The Wolfpack have lost 3 of the last 4, and all 3 losses have been by 4 points or less. I wouldn’t say the Pack lost any of those three games due to a lack of effort. Rather, I would say it was primarily due to inconsistency, a lack of discipline and poor decisions in timely moments (Jayden Taylor’s TO with 1:13 left with the game tied).
With Wake Forest beating Pitt tonight, a Wolfpack win would have put them in 4th place in the ACC.
A big missed opportunity for the Pack this evening.