NC State Wolfpack (#1) vs. South Florida (#8)
Time: 3:00 PM
Line: State -14.5
Sometimes you look at a team’s overall resume and think you have them somewhat figured out. Then you look into the actual numbers and watch some film and realize, NC State is about to lay the hammer to these poor souls.
South Florida is a Poser
South Florida won both the regular season and tournament AAC Championships. They hold 19-3 record and were a NCAAT team nearly the entire season, finishing with an AP ranking of 19.
But they have some serious flaws.
First, their strength of schedule was less than ideal. Opponents hovered around .500 as the conference lost their strongest team in UCONN, last year. While the Bulls beat #6 Miss State early in the year, MSU ended up then going 2-7 to end the season without an invite.
Second, their shooting is ROUGH. Believe it or not, the Bulls shot 37% from the field. Seriously? 19-3 record and they have a shooting percentage that ranks #281 in the nation? From three-point land, they dip even further to 30%. For some perspective, State from three-point shooting alone (36.1%) is equal to the Bull’s from the floor.
Third, so their rebounding must be out of this world…right? Not really. They’re a fairly small team, all sub 6′ 2″ and rebound just inside the top-75 in the nation, overall. Offensively, they get the job done on the boards, so need full team effort grabbing and transitioning. Once setup, South Florida’s defense is definitely solid.
In short, South Florida has the resume, but no where near the statistics to back it up.
How the Pack Wins
South Florida tends to get big leads and then hold on. They actually seem like a more physical version of NC A&T on defense, so perfect second game for the Wolfpack. State HAS to get out and run early. Wear them out inside with Cunane and Hobby. Spread the floor and get a hot hands from Crutchfield, Brown-Turner and Boyd. If South Florida falls behind, they don’t have the weapons to climb back.
Pack will need to bring the intensity versus their Forward, Bethy Mununga. She’s a bulldog that at only 6-foot has 30% of South Florida’s boards, while being their third-best scorer. Have faith that Crutchfield will take care of their leading scorer, sophomore Elena Tsineke. Flood gates open if the Pack can get turnovers on those two.
The fact that it was a true team effort for State in round one is huge. Everybody got the rust off and can no focus on taking a good game and making it great. It’s a shame if Kayla Jones can’t go today, because this matchup would have been perfect for her.
State will spread the floor, minimize turnovers and keep the pace up. I don’t see how this isn’t well into a 20+ point blowout, especially if Wolfpack have a solid opening 10 minutes. Two State players with double-doubles, four in double figure scoring. Let’s get to the Sweet Sixteen.
PI Prediction: State Wins 81-55.