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NC State takes on Illinois in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge on Tuesday. This will be the Wolfpack’s second true test of the season. In their first, they were upended by a hot shooting, Top 25 ranked Creighton team.

ESPN made their picks for each game of the challenge and they have NC State beating Illinois 67-61. Here is their reasoning…

NC State at Illinois, 9 p.m. ET, ESPNU

Perimeter play is powering the Wolfpack, led by freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr., who is beginning to assert his will over the team. Illinois needs more consistent play from senior guard Malcolm Hill.

NC State 67, Illinois 61

While they list perimeter play as a main reason that the Pack should take this game, they failed to talk about this team’s major deficiency. State has struggled mightily in the paint. They have been outrebounded by every major opponent they have faced, and nearly dropped Saturday’s game to an undersized Loyola team that beat them on the boards 35-30.

While it is true that the Wolfpack backcourt is clicking on all cylinders, it’s their frontcourt that really needs work. Adding Kapita back in the mix is big, but foul trouble and mismatches rendered him useless against Loyola. Although Illinois will be a much more natural matchup (size wise), NC State has yet to prove that they can win with a balanced attack, which is exactly what they will need against the Fighting Illini.

Is ESPN right? Will the Wolfpack guards simply overpower Illinois? Or will their frontcourt struggles rear their head once again? Sound off in our comment section below.

 

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RIZ DOLLA
RIZ DOLLA
7 years ago

Coach Gott,

Everyone knows you can produce great guards. Work on getting our big me above average.

#GETEMRIGHTCOACH!

RIZ DOLLA
RIZ DOLLA
7 years ago

Actually Im not that upset with the game. 1 we came out with energy and intensity. that was a great thing we were moving the ball, players were moving around the court etc. We were looking like a good team. But that was part of the problem. We came out with energy and intensity but WE HAVE NEVER played like that before so thats whats caused the turnovers. Turnovers really hurts teams.

RIZ DOLLA
RIZ DOLLA
7 years ago
Reply to  RIZ DOLLA

If we can play with that energy and cut back on the turnovers we will be good to go. But that comes with coaching and consistent play. Abu showed that jumper Ive been looking for now he needs to work on hands and feet in the post. Kapita will learn how to cut back on the fouls (coaching). Starting lineup should be. Smith, Henderson, Dorn, Kapita, Y7 or Abu. #GETEMRIGHTCOACHGOTT!! #GOPACK

Nathaniel Cline
Nathaniel Cline
7 years ago

This team was over hyped as most state teams are when we get a few decent recruits. I feel this team will be very lucky if they make the NCAA tournament. They are not very good at any facet of the game.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Dennis and Terry really played like crap this game. Kapita played well but again picked up some early fouls. Markell played really well but got called for some dubious fouls. Abu hit some jumpers but the turnovers and some head scratchers on defense cancelled out his good shooting. Oh well, I guess Gott can still blame not having Yurt7 for this performance.

wolfpack74
wolfpack74
7 years ago
Reply to  Wolfer96

This is a horrible team. Getting Yurt7 will not help. Gott does not know how to integrate a big into the offense. Yurt7 doesn’t play defense either. Four guards and a big is stupid. We put no pressure on the other team with offensive rebounding. This is very disheartening. I should have attended UNC back in the day. I’m really tired of these losers. I wasted money on Saturday, no more.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  wolfpack74

I agree with you but that won’t stop Gott from using his excuses.

RIZ DOLLA
RIZ DOLLA
7 years ago
Reply to  Wolfer96

This is actually a great team.. Got just got to get them right!
#GETEMRIGHTGOTT!!!

wolfpack83
wolfpack83
7 years ago
Reply to  wolfpack74

Speaking of losers, you never have anything good to say on this site. Im guessing you are the type of guy that if you won a million dollars, you would complain because they gave it to you in $20 bills. Go pull for UNC, WPN has no use for you.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

This is a really horrible team. Taking long 2’s, taking too many chances on D, stupid foul after stupid foul. It’s more disappointing than last season’s team because this team is much more talented and deeper.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Markell gave us a scare with that injury. Looks like he’s back in action.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Why does Abu have the worst hands in the league? All those muscles and can’t hold on to a rebound, catch a pass, or take 2 dribbles without turning it over?

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

When Yurt7 joins it’s going to be interesting to see if Anya gets any minutes at all? It feels like he’s actually regressing each season.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Minus the freshman mistakes you have to love Markell’s game. He is the best defending freshman I’ve seen in a long time.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Hate when Dennis settles for the 3. He needs to keep pressure on their defense.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Terry has to pick up his game. He’s the old man on the team and he’s playing like a rookie.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

Kapita looking much better than Anya but he’s got to play smarter. He’s picking up too many fouls. Already with 3 fouls at the half.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

13 turnovers at the half! Knew this team would struggle on the road but wow.

Gary
Gary
7 years ago

Would not bet against ESPN since John Groce HC, one of the worst in BIG

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

I don’t expect a lot from Abu or Anya. I want to see more of Kapita, Hicks, and Shaun.

Anthony
Anthony
7 years ago
Reply to  Wolfer96

Abu has literally put up Richard Howell numbers (check his last two years vs abu’s almost identical) his first two years here…. and one bad game and everyone write him off? i’m tired of these lazy “fans” who refuse to support our players.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

Richard Howell was 6’6″ and playing out of position. Abu is 6’8″ with a 40+ inch vertical. It is you who is being lazy. If Howell had Abu’s height and leaping ability he would have averaged 25ppg and 20rpb. Please do not ever compare Abu to Howell. You are doing Howell a severe disservice.

Anthony
Anthony
7 years ago
Reply to  Wolfer96

Please you don’t know anything about basketball clearly. just spouting numbers based on what you think. smh. you’re pathetic.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

I know you love Abu and good for you but it doesn’t change the fact that he is not a very good player. Here’s the difference, no one could ask any more from Howell because he produced above the level expected. Abu has desires to play pro and even considered leaving last season yet he doesn’t have a consistent mid range game nor a developed post game. He’s a physical specimen that plays small.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

I’m just waiting for you to claim that Gottfried coaches good defense.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

Further, one guy maximized his production given his limited size and the other is gifted with size and extreme athleticism but is coming no where close to maximizing his production. A closer comparison would be Abu and CJ Leslie. Leslie was much more skilled in the post than Abu and maximized his athleticism.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

Watch Abu carefully in this game tonight. You will see a guy who avoids contact, has weak hands, and is not positioned well. With his physical gifts he should be scoring 25ppg, pulling down 13rpg, and blocking 2-3 spg. I wish he were better but his deficiencies are too great.

Anthony
Anthony
7 years ago
Reply to  Wolfer96

Literally one player averaged 20 and 10 last year. one in all of D1 college basketball. end this fable.. that state line doesn’t exist.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago
Reply to  Anthony

You chose Richard Howell as the comparison. He averaged a double double his last season. Again at 6’6″ and lacking Abu’s athleticism. All while having no plays run for him. He had to share the front court with CJL whom dominated the ball. Who does Abu have to compete with in the front court? If he was able he would get the ball as much as he wanted.

Wolfer96
Wolfer96
7 years ago

This game could easily end up a loss if the Pack doesn’t come out focused and determined. It’s a road game so you just never know how these kids will play. The one thing I can count on is Dennis doing his thing, Markell playing that tough D, Torin scoring on a 1 on 3 fast break, and Terry adding his double digit scoring.

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