NC State opens the season tonight at 7pm against Georgia Southern, and while there is much anticipation, there are still a lot of questions to be answered. Here are 5 things that we will be watching in tonight’s opener.
1) What does NC State’s frontcourt look like without Yurtseven
Without the 7 foot, 5-star freshman on the floor for the first 9 games (due to NCAA’s ruling), Gottfried will have to figure out how to use his existing frontcourt pieces. What he has to work with is Beejay Anya, Malik Abu and Darius Hicks. Ted Kapita has still not been cleared and it’s looking less and less likely as they continue to hold off on a decision.
So what route will Gottfried take? I think it will go game by game. Sometimes Gott will run out his 4 guard lineup with Abu in the middle, in an attempt to out-athlete his opponents. There will also be times where we see a more traditional lineup with both Anya and Abu in there.
What to pay attention to tonight is how and when he decides to go with certain lineups and how those lineups produce. Is Anya going to slow the team down on the break? Will they get outrebounded with only Abu in the paint? These are things to watch for in the Wolfpack frontcourt.
2) Does team chemistry look good?
The talent is there for this team, and barring injury, the only thing that we feel could stop them is some sort of chemistry issue. Now, we definitely don’t think this team will suffer from that. Smith, Henderson and Dorn spent much of last year on the bench, plotting this upcoming season, and by the early looks of things, this team is clicking unlike any we’ve seen before (this early in the season.) They are sharing the ball, they are on the same page, and they look like they are having a blast out there. Sure, we only saw two exhibition games, but we will be watching if they can transition that type of attitude and teamwork into the regular season.
3) What does Dennis Smith Jr look like at 100%?
We’ve seen Smith in the red and white game and we’ve seen him in these early season exhibition games, but watching him closely, you could tell that he was holding back just a bit. Not yet ready to go all out for games that don’t matter. So, what does Dennis Smith Jr look like when he’s full throttle and taking no prisoners? Tonight we will get our first glimpse.
4) How disciplined is this team defensively?
This is a very fast-paced, athletic team, and they are going to do a lot of their damage on the break. But being a team that dominates on the break means you have to get stops on the defensive end. Is this team able to create turnovers, and if so, can they do it without gambling too much defensively? The one thing you worry about is a team that wants to get out on the break so bad that they become obsessed with reaching for a steal or jumping the passing lane too quickly. Can this team sit and a stance and defend? Can they stay in the passing lanes to disrupt offensively flow without jumping out of position on pass fakes? Can they stay in front of their man without reaching, leading to blowbys and defensive rotations? Will they switch on high screens instead of hedging and recovering, now that they have a more versatile group?
This is a young team, so discipline on defense might still be a work in progress, but if this team is going to contend for any hardware, they are going to need to learn to harness that athleticism into become shut down defenders. Tonight we’ll try to guage where they are and how far they need to go.
5) How many highlight reel dunks will we see?
This is less about scouting the team and more about pure entertainment, but with Smith, Kirk, Dorn, Johnson and Abu, you’re sure to get your fill of highlights. This is one reason that this team is going to be very fun to watch. The athleticism is just off the charts and there could be an ESPN Top 10 moment at any time.
NC State’s Men’s Basketball Team is Having One of it’s Best Runs in the ACC Ever
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)
#22 NC State is a 7.5-Point Underdog at #8 UVA Tonight
#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 vs. UVA
NC State is the ONLY Team in the Triangle Ranked for the 1st Time in 40 Years
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.
Wolfpack was 17th that week. UNC was unranked in two polls all year, Dec. 20 and Dec. 27. Duke was not ranked that season (Dawkins, Alarie, Bilis, Henderson were freshmen).
Other *cough* ACC teams on Dec. 27: Virginia (4), Louisville (13), Syracuse (14).
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 6, 2023
Before that: The preseason poll in 1973, the final poll in 1970 and Dec. 5, 1955. So this is the sixth time in 67 years.
Happened pretty often between 1952-55. NC State was ranked during the entire 1950-51 season while neither Duke nor UNC was.
— Luke DeCock (@LukeDeCock) February 6, 2023
Anyone remember what happened that 1982-83 basketball season?
NC State won the National Championship.
NC State Breaks Into the AP Poll, Landing at #22
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.
— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) February 6, 2023
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
22. NC State