NC State Wolfpack vs. North Carolina Tar Heels
8pm | Raleigh, NC | ACCN
It’s a big one tonight, folks. NC State faces their bitter rivals in a game that has much than bragging rights on the line. With a win against Carolina, State will put itself in position for an at-large bid to the NC AA Tournament. A loss and the Pack is all but out of the big dance.
Right now it would seem as though Gottfried’s group is walking right into a buzzsaw. UNC might be the hottest team in the country and it’s as though all of their pieces are coming together at the same time,. This team, however, is far from unbeatable and there is no doubt that if State controls the tempo, the boards and slows down their transition, that they can walk away with the win. Let’s take a look at a few things we think are important tonight.
State/Carolina by the numbers
UNC shoots a decent 46% from the floor, scores 77ppg but is one of the better rebounding teams in the nation at 41 rebounds per contest. They have 392 offensive rebounds this season and have made a living off of second change points. They average 16 assists per game and shoot 33% from 3.
Meanwhile, the Wolfpack shoot 45% from the floor and average 70 ppg. They only average 35 boards per game and have 321 offensive rebounds on the season. State averages 13 assists per game, but only shoot 29% from beyond the arc.
Last time out
About a month ago, State and UNC met in the Dean Dome and things didn’t go so well for the Pack. They came out very soft, very tentative and really just did not get things going for the first 10 minutes. After being down by 17 in the first half, the Pack came back out and ended up winning the 2nd half by 3 (but losing the game by 14). What does this mean? Well, you can take away that this State team does have what it takes talent wise, but do they have what it takes mentally? They need to come out strong and come out with focus. They need to play hungry, crash the boards, body up the UNC bigs and make sure they don’t lose their man on defense.
Defensively the NC State guards need to play better this time around. Marcus Paige and Leslie McDonald are both scoring the ball at a high rate right now, and last time out they combined for 35 points. That’s pretty much unacceptable for the Pack if they want a win tonight. The burden is going to be on Lewis/Barber, who will have to stop Marcus Paige. He’s going to be aggressive, but they have to stay in front of him. A dribble drive breakdown at the top will get UNC a ton of open shots. If State can stop the dribble penetration and minimize the amount of help-side D they’ll need to use, then they’ll be able to play straight up, and man for man, State should be able to match them.
The other big key will be inside. Kyle Washington has really made strides lately, but it’s going to be about Vandy and Anya. UNC has agile, athletic bigs in Kennedy Meeks, Brice Johnson and McAdoo. They are really going to rely on those guys to score and control the boards. State will need to make things tough on these three by not allowing deep position on the blocks, not allowing them to the rim on drives, and not allowing guys like McAdoo to beat them down the floor for transition buckets.
On the boards, State is going to have to want it more. This Wolfpack team has been off and on in terms of physicality. Washington is there, Freeman is usually there, but Vandenberg and Anya are question marks and will be important tonight. They both are going to need to play physical while sill playing smart, boxing out and attacking the glass. Last game McAdoo went for 16 and 13, while Brice Johnson added 10 and 7 and Meeks put in 8 and 10. The truth is, basically everyone UNC put out there took advantage of State. This time around Gott’s group can’t let that happen.
Knock down shots
Warren was bothered by Tokoto’s defense last time they played, but finally got it going in the second half. State is going to need Warren to be his usual self while also getting help from some shooters. That’s a lot to ask a team who doesn’t have a single guy shooting over 30% from 3 (other than Turner.) However, this team actually does have a few capable shooters. Lewis is actually pretty good shooter when you go back to last year and through his HS career. Barber can shoot it. Lee has a good looking stroke. So what gives? I’m not sure, but they are seriously lacking confidence beyond the arc. If this team could just get hot for a short streak, they could really change the way teams play them.
Can Lewis stop Paige?
Tyler Lewis has reignited the Wolfpack offense with 44 assists to only 5 turnovers in the past 9 games. He’s protecting the basketball and getting the ball where it needs to go against the zone (which State sees often). There is no question that this team needs Lewis out there on offense, but can he stop one of the better scoring guards in the league? Well, I think he can if he plays smart. Lewis has problems with bigger, stronger guards, but Paige isn’t that. He’s thin, only 6’1 and not a super athlete. Lewis will be looked upon to stop dribble penetration and I think he can do it. He’s done a great job of staying in front of defenders as of late, but larger, stronger guys have taken advantage of his size. Tonight, he’ll be able to really show what he can do on defense. If he can neutralize Paige, NC State wins this basketball game.
How to beat UNC
I’m not going to lie. This team is white hot right now. They have won their last 9 games and look like a whole new basketball team. So, what’s it going to take for State to beat them? Well, first off they need to take cues from other teams that have knocked off the Heels earlier in the season. For instance. in most of their losses UNC had bad shooting nights from their guards. Paige was 2-11 when they lost to Miami and 4-14 in their loss to Virginia. Against Wake, Paige was 3-12 and McDonald was 3-13. This team is fueled by their guards. When they’re scoring, they’re winning. The absolute key tonight is for State is to shut down the guards, control the tempo and rule the boards. It’s a tall order, but if they want to play big games in March, State is going to have to go above and beyond.
— Mark Gottfried (@Mark_Gottfried) February 26, 2014
NC State 84 BC 78: BOX SCORE
NC State is a Slight Underdog in ACC Opener vs. Boston College
NC State (4-2) will play their first ACC game of the 2023-24 season tomorrow on the road against Boston College (5-2), and they enter the game as slight underdogs. The Wolfpack are 1.5-point underdogs, and the Total is 150.5.
- NC State is 0-2 Straight Up as underdogs
- BC is 4-1 Straight Up as favorites.
- NC State is 2-4 Against the Spread.
- BC is 4-3 Against the Spread
- The Total has gone Under in 2 games for NC State, Over in 3 and Pushed in 1.
- The Total has gone Under in 3 games for Boston College and Over in 4.
- NC State is 6-4 in their last 10 games against BC Straight Up.
- NC State is 4–6 Against the Spread in their last 10 games against BC.
- The Total has gone Under in 5 games, and Under in the other 5.
#5 NC State 70 Vanderbilt 62: BOX SCORE (with notes)
The 5th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team improved to 8-0 tonight, defeating Vanderbilt 70-62 in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.
- Saniya Rivers scored 20+ points for the 2nd time this season, scoring 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting. She also chipped in 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
- River Baldwin posted her first double-double of the season. She scored 12 points and grabbed 10 boards.
- Aziaha James has now scored in double figures in 7 of 8 games, scoring 14 points tonight, shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 2 of 3 from beyond the arc.
- Freshman Zoe Brooks led the Pack in steals (4) and assists (4).
- NC State didn’t shoot well, making only 39% of their shots. Fortunately, they held Vandy to 34.3% shooting.
The Wolfpack will host Illinois State on Sunday at 2pm.
NC State Stat Leaders Heading into the ACC Opener vs Boston College
This Saturday, NC State heads to Boston College for the now-annual early ACC opener. The Pack will face off against the Eagles at 4pm on ACC Network. Here is where the team is statistically after 6 games.
- Casey Morsell leads NC State in scoring with 14.5 ppg.
- The Pack has 4 double-digit scorers this season. Morsell (14.5), Jayden Taylor (13.3), DJ Burns (13) and DJ Horne (11.2)
(Last season State had 4 double-digit scorers as well. Terquavion (17.9), Joiner (17), Burns (12.5) and Morsell (11.8))
- After their top 4 scorers there is a big dip. Parker comes in at 6.8, O’Connell at 6.3, and Middlebrooks at 5.5 ppg.
(Last season Jack Clark was 5th on the team in scoring at 9 points and Mahorcic was at 8.7. However, both guys missed a large chunk of the season.)
- Burns is leading NC State in rebounding this year at 5.3 per game. Diarra is next with 5.3 (but is currently hampered by an ankle injury.)
- O’Connell is leading NC State in assists with 3.3 per game, and Burns is up next with 2.5. PG DJ Horne is only averaging 2.
- LJ Thomas and Mike O’Connell are tied in leading the team at .15 assists per minute.
- Jayden Taylor is leading NC State in 3pt %, shooting an outstanding 45.8%, while Morsell is up next at 34.6%. Horne is close behind at 33%.
(LJ Thomas is shooting 50% from 3, but only has 2 attempts.)
- Burns is leading the bigs, shooting 56.5% from the floor, while Middlebrooks is close behind at 54.2%. Dennis Parker Jr is coming in at 45.2%.
- For the guards, it’s Casey Morsell leading the way at 44.6% from the floor, while O’Connell is next up at 43.4%. Taylor is shooting 42.4%, and DJ Horne is struggling a bit, shooting just 34.8% from the field.
- Jayden Taylor is turning the ball over the most at 1.8 times per game, while Burns is next at 1.7. Morsell is at 1.5 and O’Connell is at 1.2. DJ Horne has been doing a good job of protecting the basketball, turning it over just .3 times per game.