NC State heads northward to face the Pittsburgh Panthers, the start of what NC State hopes will be a season changing week.
The Pathers are ranked 20th according to USA Today and are coming off a 23 point win over Boston College. Last season Pitt under-achieved, but thus far they only have two losses on the season (both to ranked opponents.) Here are the keys to the game.
STOP YOUNG INSIDE
Michael Young leads Pitt at 17.2 points per game and adds 6.8 rebounds per contest. The 6-9 junior is capable of dismantling a team inside. It will be up to BeeJay Anya to stop Young. Anya needs to step up and play with a little more urgency and energy, especially on the defensive end. Kennedy Meeks had his way with the junior big this past weekend. Meeks scored 23 points and was a deciding factor in UNC’s win over the Pack.
GET CAT GOING
A number NC State players had success versus Pittsburgh a season ago, most notably Cat Barber, who had a career night against the Panthers in the ACC tourney. Cat should be able to get to any spot he wants on the court with James Robinson guarding him. The Pitt guard is a little slow footed, however he is crafty and will likely be prepared with a plan.
Defense, Defense, Defense
Mark Gottfried hopes that his team will replicate some of the good things they did aginst the Tarheels tonight, mainly on the defensive end. If State can build upon their performance of stopping the trio of Paige, Johnson, and Jackson, then they should start to make strides as a team. Part of reason State’s defense was improved was the extended minutes of Cody Martin. He was able to really lock down on Paige at times and made Carolina attack from the inside. State has size in there, but needs to be better about staying out of foul trouble and making opposing bigs catch the ball outside of the paint.
One thing that cannot carry over from the UNC game is turnovers. State has been pretty good at keeping the turnover bug at bay, and that starts and stops with Cat Barber at the point. So much of the responsibility of taking care of the basketball is on Cat’s shoulders. Look for him to bounce back tonight as he will take care of the basketball against a backcourt that isn’t quite a fast and won’t be able to apply as much pressure..
Another thing to watch for is how minutes are used tonight between Cody, Caleb, and Maverick. Last game Cody Martin earned the start, does that continue tonight? Hopefully it does as the Pack looked more balanced on offense and allowed Cat less responsibility on the defensive end.
Game time is slated for 8 o’clock, and can be seen on ACCN.
Check out NC State’s YouTube channel’s preview below:
NC State’s NET Ranking After Defeating Maryland Eastern Shore
NC State defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 93-61 last night, improving to 6-2 on the season. Ironically, they fell one spot in the NET Rankings, from 51st to 52nd.
NC State’s two losses were against #1 BYU (!) and Ole Miss (#89). BYU was a Quad 1 loss, and Ole Miss was a Quad 2 loss.
The Wolfpack currently rank 7th in the ACC.
ACC Teams in NET Rankings
52) NC State
71) Virginia Tech
91) Boston College
105) Wake Forest
107) Florida St.
159) Georgia Tech
212) Notre Dame
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)
Kansas Transfer MJ Rice Makes Quite the Impression in his NC State Debut
We’ve seen a lot of new faces on the NC State Men’s Basketball team this season, but one face we haven’t seen yet is Kansas Transfer Guard/Forward M.J. Rice (6’5″/215)…until tonight.
Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons earlier this Fall, and when he returned, he had a little catching up to do. It wasn’t until today during shoot around that Rice and Keatts both knew that tonight would be his debut.
“He’d been practicing for the last couple of weeks, and you know, I was just trying to figure out when he was ready. He and I, we talked a little bit after shoot around today and I said ‘MJ you ready to go tonight?'” said Kevin Keatts. “and he had this big huge smile on his face. He’s like ‘You sure you ready?’ He’s like ‘Ask me some plays.’ So he and I sit over there on the scores table at the Dale and we went over plays and I was like ‘You know what, you are ready to play.'”
Out of all the transfers Keatts brought in this offseason, Rice might have the highest ceiling. Rice was a 5-Star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, and ON3 ranked him as the #24 overall prospect nationally. He committed to Kansas, where he played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman in 2022, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. Rice was a huge pickup in the Transfer Portal, ranked as the #2 player in the Portal, with three years of eligibility remaining.
Rice also isn’t new to the area either, playing high school ball at Durham Academy, before heading off to Oak Hill Academy and Prolific Prep.
In a short sample size, Rice gave us a glimpse of what the hype is all about tonight. He scored 11 points in 11 minutes of play, also grabbing 6 boards. Rice was 5-6 from the field, and hit the only three he took. In the most electrifying play of the night, Rice took it coast-to-coast, finishing with a soaring dunk.
“He gives us another dimension. We’ve been playing with six of our new dudes. Now we added the seventh and I’m happy for him. He’s going to help us. He’s going to be really good for us.” said Keatts. “I said this on the radio just now…we’ve got some older guys, but two really good young players in Dennis Parker Jr. and also MJ Rice. It was good for MJ to see the ball going in. I think he played 10 minutes had 11 points. He made a three. He had a big time dunk, so I was excited for him.”
“He gives us the ability to play a little bit more small ball. If we have to, we can play him and Dennis Parker both at the three and four. Really good defender at that position and can rebound the basketball,” said Keatts. “It’s going to take time. I’m trying to figure out how to kind of put him into the rotation, and now we’ve added another really good exciting piece to it, but it was good to have him back out there.”
Welcome to the Pack MJ! We’re glad you’ve arrived!
NC State 93 UMES 61: BOX SCORE
Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of NC State’s Win Over BC
Ready to watch NC State’s Men’s Basketball team play in the ‘old barn’ tonight against Maryland Eastern-Shore? Well, until 7pm, go ahead and get yourself hype by watching Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of the Wolfpack’s ACC opening win over BC this past Saturday. Check it out above.