- 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 Makes Top-10 for Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier
George Mason Graduate Transfer Guard Justin Kier (6’4″/197) included NC State in his list of Final 10 schools.
— Andrew Slater (@Andrew__Slater) April 13, 2020
Kier was granted a fifth year of eligibility after missing all but 9 games last season due to injury. He was expected to arguably be George Mason’s best returning player next year, averaging 14.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, earning All-Atlantic 10 2nd Team honors.
NC State Reaches Out to UAB Transfer Makhtar Guyer
According to Rivals’ Corey Evans, NC State has reached out to UAB Transfer Forward Makhtar Guyer (6’10″/210), after he announced he was transferring on Friday.
Virginia Tech has offered UAB transfer Makhtar Guyer, he tells @RivalsPortal.
Georgetown, Miami, Mississippi State, NC State and San Diego State have reached out since his transfer yesterday. @Hokie_Haven
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 11, 2020
— Makhtar Gueye (@Thelionkilla) April 11, 2020
Guyer has one year of eligibility remaining. Last year as a Junior at UAB, Guyer averaged 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds, starting in 27 of 31 games.
NC State Accepts Recommendation to Move Case to IARP
NC State has accepted the recommendation to move their violation’s case from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“We’ve stated throughout this process that NC State will accept accountability for any shortcomings and defend ourselves aggressively where we feel it is appropriate and necessary to do so,” Woodson wrote in a statement released by the school on Wednesday. “As our response to the Referral Petition demonstrates, we do not think NC State can receive an objective or fair hearing before the Committee on Infractions in this matter. We believe the only remaining option is that our case be moved to the Independent Accountability Resolution Process.
“NC State has a long history of working cooperatively with the NCAA, and we remain committed to working collaboratively through the IARP to address concerns and to resolve this matter as fairly and efficiently as possible.” (WRAL)
The IARP is made up of decision makers that are investigators and legal advocates that are independent of any NCAA teams.
The difference between the traditional process, and the IARP, is that the latter’s decision is final, unable to be appealed.
Vote For NC State Men’s Basketball Fans in Fox College Hoops 64-Team Bracket
In the absence of the NCAA Tournament, Fox College Hoops has created a 64-team bracket to determine the best fanbase of Men’s Basketball teams.
They determined 60 of the contestants based of the Men’s Basketball teams with the most Twitter followers. The final four were determined by the highest rated teams not yet selected according to the NET Rankings.
You: So how does this #FOXFanVote thing work?
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) April 5, 2020
The winner of each matchup is determined by fan vote, obviously.
NC State’s Men’s Basketball fans were given a #8 seed in the East Bracket.
The winner of the bracket, will earn quite a gift. Fox College Hoops will place a billboard of that team in close proximity to their rival.
Go ahead and vote for NC State to beat Alabama in the 1st round right now.