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Final Thoughts: On NC State’s 74-70 win over Syracuse

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    • I’m not sure if people realize just how big this win was. Had NC State lost this game, it wouldn’t have been the end of the line, however, it would have made things a lot more complicated. State had to either win at Virginia Tech or at Syracuse to put themselves in position to be sure-bets come selection Sunday. After the loss to the Hokies, this became a nearly must-win. The victory is their 5th quadrant 1 win, and that puts them in elite company. It also gives them two very good road wins (a big win on a neutral floor). These things are going to be major bonus points when the selection committee looks at the Pack’s resume. The other reason it was so big was that Syracuse and State were jockeying for position in the ACC and if one of the two have to be left out of the dance, this game could very well be the decider.
    • This was not a good matchup on paper for NC State. They have struggled against the zone all season and have not done a great job when they are mismatched. Syracuse is obviously going all zone and they have .a roster full of guys who create mismatches. However, somehow Keatts worked his magic. NC State was well-prepared to face the zone. They did not settle for contested 3’s and instead did a good job of moving the ball and getting it into the middle. Once it got in there, the play wasn’t over. These guys knew exactly what areas of the floor would be open and as soon as they made the catch in the middle, they were looking for those spots. That is what caused a lot of turnovers. There were a lot of semi-blind passes guys had to make, trusting that the zone was going to be shifting on the catch. Sometimes the Pack didn’t have guys in position, and sometimes Syracuse didn’t shift as fast as expected. But more times than not, those passes got through, throwing the Syracuse zone off-balance and putting them in reaction mode. This led to open looks for the Pack.
    • Lots of different looks and in-game adjustments by Keatts made a difference. I thought putting Markell Johnson in the middle of the zone about halfway through the first half was a genius move. It really flustered Syracuse. The name of the game is usually, get it to the middle to a big and let him facilitate over top of zone. That wasn’t really working for the Pack, Keatts decided to put Markell in there and play underneath the zone. So brilliant and really led to a nice spurt by State. Another big move was limiting Braxton Beverly’s minutes. Beverly is obviously an extremely important part of this team but the fact is, with his size, there are going to sometimes be a matchup that is just too tough for him. At 6’5, Frank Howard was just too much. He was quicker than Beverly and had him by half a foot. He also was red-hot. Using different lineups and going a little bit bigger at the guard spot ended up neutralizing Howard down the stretch.
    • Sam Freakin’ Hunt. He was always supposed to be a zone buster, but with so few teams playing zone, Hunt hasn’t really gotten many opportunities in ACC play. His four 3s down the stretch won NC State this game. Having a streak shooter like him on the bench is huge and will be a nice option to have come tournament time. This also is a nice confidence booster for the grad-senior who had seen his role shrink recently.
    • Markell Johnson is the game-changer. His defense, his ability to distribute and now his scoring. Markell Johnson is doing everything this team needs and then some. His demeanor on the floor is especially encouraging as he seems to be finding his voice as a leader. His defense on Battle was great and his ability to control pace and flow against the Syracuse zone was huge. He even is showing the willingness to score when he has to and be the one taking big shots in big situations. His trajectory as a leader and ACC PG is skyrocketing and it’s coming just at the right time.
    • NC State is heading into an important stretch. They are heading to Wake on Saturday and have FSU sandwiched between BC and GT. What I’m saying is that they have winnable games coming up and they can’t take their foot off the pedal. At this point, they don’t need upsets, they need win volume. If they win 3 of their next 5, then you can likely rest easy on Selection Sunday no matter how they do in the ACC Tournament. But shooting for 3 of 5 might be shooting too low. NC State could really take 4 of the next 5. If they did that and made a little run in the ACC Tournament, this team could be climbing seeds pretty fast.
    • This win should start the gears turning for Kevin Keatts to get ACC Coach of the Year. Finish strong and he’s your front-runner. In fact, if State gets to 10 ACC wins and he doesn’t win, we’ll dedicate weeks on end to create a movement on social media that the ACC doesn’t want or need.

NC State Basketball

NC State Men’s Basketball Ranked 28th in KenPom’s 2019-20 Preseason Rankings

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Stat junkie KenPom’s preseason 2019-20 rankings are out, and the NC State Men’s Basketball team sits at 28th nationally to start the year.

The Wolfpack’s is projected to rank 10th nationally in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency, with the Defense sitting at 64th.

NC State sits at 6th in the ACC in these preseason rankings, which lines up perfectly with the Official Preseason rankings by the ACC Media. They are projected to have the 4th most efficient offense, and the 12th most efficient defense.

The Wolfpack is projected to go 22-9 in the regular season.

NC State finished the 2018-19 season ranked 41st nationally in KenPom’s final rankings.

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NC State Basketball

Primetime with the Pack: HIGHLIGHT REEL

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The NC State Men and Women’s Basketball teams put on a show for the fans last night at Primetime with the Pack at Reynold’s Coliseum.

Freshman Dereon Seabron won the dunk contest. Graduate Senior Pat Andree won the three-point contest. Sophomore Jericole Hellems won the skills competition.

The Men’s Basketball team have a “secret” scrimmage against East Carolina tomorrow, and their first Exhibition Game is next Sunday, October 27th, against Mount Olive. The season opener at home against Georgia Tech is on November 5th.

The Women’s Basketball team have an Exhibition Game against Anderson in Reynolds Coliseum on October 31st, and their season opener is on November 6th against North Carolina A&T at home.

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Andy Katz Ranks NC State’s Markell Johnson as the #4 Player in the ACC

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NCAA.com’s Andy Katz released a podcast two days ago previewing the 2019-20 ACC Men’s Basketball season, and he thinks that NC State Senior Point Guard Markell Johnson is the 4th best player in the conference.

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Here’s what Katz had to say about Johnson in the Top-10 breakdown on the podcast.

“He’s a stat stuffer. If NC State goes to the NCAA Tournament, Markell Johnson will lead them. At ACC Media Day told me that he needs to come more out of his shell. He knows that. To be much more demonstrative. Kevin Keatts is putting it on him to become a player like that.” (Katz)

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NC State Being Sued by N&O, WRAL, ABC11 & NY Times

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According to Will Doran of the N&O, the News & Observer, WRAL, ABC11, and the New York Times have filed a lawsuit against NC State for refusing to turn over records related to Dennis Smith Jr. and the NCAA’s investigation into the Men’s Basketball program.

The article claims that for the past two years, the university has been “knowingly and intentionally violating the law by refusing to turn over public records.” Specifically, documentation of electronic communication and phone records have been denied according to the report.

After the release of the article, a spokesperson of the university reached out to Doran last night to inform him that they had “not seen or been served with the lawsuit and would wait to comment until officials have reviewed it.” The spokesperson also had this to say in a statement:

“N.C. State has released thousands of pages of documents and has acted in good faith and transparency throughout the federal and NCAA investigations,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, the university was prepared to release extensive phone records, but that release has been blocked by a temporary court order.” (N&O)

You can read Doran’s article in full here.

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