NC State squares off aginst Wake Forest at 2 PM this Saturday. Wake Forest rides into Raleigh off of a big win over Miami. The Pack looks to win back to back ACC games before a brutal two-game stretch traveling to Duke and Louisville. What are the keys to the game for NC State to beat Wake Forest?
The Wolfpack will need to be prepared for ball screens, lots of ball screens.
The Demon Deacons use the ball screen as much as any team in the country. They like to initiate their offense with a flat high ball screen a couple of feet above the key. Bryant Crawford is lethal at utilizing the screen to get downhill quickly with his athleticism. The Pack will need to hedge efficiently to reroute Crawford horizontally instead of allowing him a direct line to the paint. John Collins has thrived as a pick and roll partner with Crawford as he has caught lots of alleys from him.
In addition to flat ball screens at the top of the key, Wake runs a two man game with a guard and big man from the wings. This action gives Wake an opportunity to exploit a potential mismatch as a result of teams switching. The other three players space the floor which strains help-side defense.
NC State can take away Wake’s pick and rolls by mixing in zone looks. Running a zone can also help take away the interior scoring of John Collins. Throwing different looks at Wake should slow down their lethal offensive attack.
Fouls will play a big part in Saturday’s game as Wake Forest ranks 24th in the NCAA in free throw percentage.
Omer Yurtseven and Malik Abu must play it safe the first half of the game by not picking up dumb fouls. NC State cannot afford to have either one of these players picking up quick fouls due to reach-ins and senseless off-ball calls. The Pack guards will need to be aggressive pressuring the ball without fouling because Wake shoots 75.9% from the foul line. Allowing them to get into the bonus early could be catastrophic.
Offensively NC State needs to have a balanced attack.
The Pack beat Pittsburgh with a balanced attack offensively. Maverick Rowan and Terry Henderson both scored 21 points apiece with Smith and Yurtseven getting into double figures as well. 20 assists on 29 made field goals helped NC State win the game. They will need to work together penetrating and kicking to get good looks. Markell Johnson and Dennis Smith give the Wolfpack versatility by having two players capable of getting into the paint to distribute the basketball. NC State will need to have everyone involved to score with the Demon Deacons.
Saturday’s contest should be entertaining theater as it features two teams capable of lighting up the scoreboard. The offenses will take center stage Saturday at 2 o’clock as both NC State and Wake average 81 PPG. Can the Wolfpack get enough stops to beat the Demon Deacons? They will need to bring energy and build upon their win over Pittsburgh as Wake Forest is a talented team.