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NC State Basketball

Zone Problems: How State Should Attack the Syracuse Zone

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NC State struggles against the zone, there is no debating that. The Wolfpack shoots exactly 30% as a team from 3pt range, and outside of Ralston Turner, doesn’t have a single player who shoots over 30%. So why is there any reason to think that this team has what it takes to beat the best zone defense in the nation?

I’m not going to sit here and say State has a good shot at a win on Saturday afternoon at Syracuse, but I’m also not going to say that it’s impossible. Syracuse is known nationally for having one of the toughest zones in the nation. They’ve beaten great shooting teams like Duke and just beat a very physical Pitt team. So what does it take to beat the Orange? To answer that question I think it’s important to understand why their zone is so good in the first place.

Jim Boeheim consistently gets some of the longest, most athletic players in the country and then teaches them how to use that to their advantage in the zone. By doing this, they cut down the passing lanes and make it tougher to get 3s off for the opposition. Most zones you see are in place to make up for a weak link on defense, or because a team is too small to defend man to man. In The Orange’s case, the zone is in place to play to their strengths. They don’t sit back and wait for you to shoot. They pressure the ball, extend their zone and make every pass tough. They also like to trap in the corners when the ball is swung there.

So what can State do to beat this zone? Well, for starters they’re going to have to throw it off balance. The way to do this is by throwing in tons of pass fakes and shot fakes, combined with quick, crisp ball movement. Syracuse is very good at anticipating passes, which help them get out on shooters and close driving lanes before the player even catches the pass. This type of anticipation also makes them susceptible to good ball fakes and misdirection. Well sold pass fakes and ball reversals will open up these lanes and give State some daylight.

But that’s only step one.

Once you get them off-balance and late on a rotation, you have to know how to attack. Hesitate for a second and they’ve recovered. Quick ball movement and a decisive attack will be the only way to get open looks. Now, you can’t just bulldoze into the middle of this zone and think you’re getting a good shot. They are too long and too athletic. They can close in on you fast and get you trapped in the middle. If you’re going to attack the gaps you need to be react quickly when their bigs step up. Usually the entire zone collapses at this point and you can find an open man for 3. But with the way State shoots, this might not be the best way to beat Syracuse. The Pack is going to need to get Warren the ball in the middle. Against most zones, that’s an easy task, but against this one it’s going to be tough. As I said, they’re are going to need to first catch Syracuse in the middle of a rotation, then sneak it into Warren around the free throw line and let him work. He might get some easy shots early on, but Boeheim’s group will adjust and either start reeling in their guards and not extending them as much, or cheating their middle big up to the high post.

When they do this, State will need to start adjusting. This is when Vandy becomes a good option for the lob. As the bigs cheat up to get on Warren they leave the rim unguarded and State needs to make them pay. Getting the ball in the middle to TJ also likely opens up the shooter on the opposite side. By moving the ball quickly to the middle, then opposite to someone like Lee or Turner, you now have the zone flustered and working hard to recover. A shot may be open, but with a guy closing out hard, a shot fake and drive may be just as open.

The real key here is not being slow and not hesitating with the basketball (as State usually does against zones). Quick ball movement from side to side, pass fakes, shot fakes then immediately either attack or pass. Standing around or dribbling side to side is only going to hurt you against Syracuse. This is a team reliant on team defense and State needs to play very together on offense if they want to beat it. Again, getting Warren the ball in the middle of the zone is also huge. He has a dangerous mid-range game and is also usually smart with the basketball. If everyone on this team can be smart, quick, aggressive and decisive with the basketball, they could have a shot to topple #1…but it’s going to take a near perfect effort.

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Men’s Basketball Team is Having One of it’s Best Runs in the ACC Ever

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Heading into tonight’s Top-25 matchup between #22 NC State and #8 UVA, the Wolfpack are in the midst of one of their best runs in ACC play since the conference was formed in 1953.

The Wolfpack are 9-4 in the ACC, but they have won 8 of their last 9 conference games.

The last time NC State went on a run like this in ACC Regular Season games was during the 1972-73 and 73-74 seasons, when the Wolfpack went 12-0 in ACC play.

12-0 (1972 & 73-74)

12 of 13 (1958-59)

8 of 9 (2022-23, 1961-61, 1954-55)

7 of 8 (1974-75, 1969-70, 1964-65, 1955-56)

6 of 7 (2005-06, 1979-80, 1960-61, 1957-58)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NC State Basketball

#22 NC State is a 7.5-Point Underdog at #8 UVA Tonight

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#22 NC State is a 7.5-point underdog at #8 Virginia tonight at 9pm, and the Total is sitting at 137.

  • NC State is 19-5 Straight Up.
    • They are 11-11-2 Against the Spread.
  • UVA is 17-4 Straight Up.
    • They are 8-12-1 Against the Spread.
  • The Total has gone Over in 13 of NC State’s 24 games.
    • The Total has gone Over in 12 of UVA’s 22 games
  • UVA is 15-2 as the Favorite.
    • NC State is 4-4 as the Underdog.
  • NC State is 4-1-1 in their last 6 games against UVA Against the Spread.
  • The Total has gone Over in 5 of NC State’s last 7 games.
    • The Total has gone Over in 4 of UVA’s last 5 games.
  • The Total has gone Under in 5 of the last 6 games between these two in Charlottesville.
  • NC State has won two in a row, and 3 of the last 4 against UVA.
    • Kevin Keatts is 3-4 against UVA. He is 2-2 at UVA.

NC State

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UVA

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NC State vs. UVA

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NC State Basketball

NC State is the ONLY Team in the Triangle Ranked for the 1st Time in 40 Years

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NC State’s Men’s Basketball team is back in the AP Top 25 for the first time in 4 years, landing at #22 in the Week 14 AP Poll.

NC State is ranked. Duke and UNC are not. Last time that was the case? December 27th, 1982. Over 40 years ago. It’s only the 6th time in 67 years that this has happened.

Anyone remember what happened that 1982-83 basketball season?

NC State won the National Championship.

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NC State Basketball

NC State Breaks Into the AP Poll, Landing at #22

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NC State is off to it’s best start in almost 2 decades, and they now finally have a number beside their name, landing at #22 in the Week 14 AP Poll.

This is the first time that NC State has been ranked in the AP Poll since January 28th, 2019, when they were ranked 23rd.

ACC Teams in the Week 14 AP Poll

8. Virginia
19. Miami
22. NC State
27. Duke
29. Clemson
30. Pitt

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