NC State Wolfpack vs Richmond Spiders
Location: Spectrum Center, Charlotte
Line: Richmond -2
NC State comes in surprisingly as underdogs in this one. I bet you’re wondering how that’s possible. NC State is 7-3, coming off a OT loss to the #1 team in the country, while Richmond is 6-4 without a real quality win and losses to Utah State and Drake.
Is Vegas making a big mistake? Do they know something we don’t know?
Well, it’s likely going to be a close game if you look at the stats and understand that Richmond runs a spread offense (a version of. the Princeton). They do a lot of passing, a lot of back door cutting, and a lot of driving in an empty lane, drawing defenses down, and kicking it out. This is why yesterday, Joey Wolferetti called this ‘the ultimate trap game for NC State.’
Facing a spread offense
If you’ve watched NC State, you know that defending an offense like this has been a weak spot. The last time they faced a spread offense was against Colgate, who took NC State to the brink before losing by 3.
The problem NC State has with teams like this is that they aren’t built to defend them. The Pack is built for ACC play. Big, long guards, stretch forwards who can guard multiple positions. NC State has a lot of success against bigger teams, because the way they switch every screen keeps guys covered and mismatches to a minimum.
This style of play doesn’t really work well against teams that don’t run many ball screens and like to spread the floor. Richmond is kind of a hybrid team, in that they have some size and athleticism, but still play a spread Princeton-style offense. This is a problem for NC State.
An ‘on the fly’ change in defensive strategy
The Wolfpack guards are used to playing up on their guys, taking away shots, and risking the drive, knowing they are funneling the ball handler into the lane where they will be greeted by a lot of traffic and a high-end shot blocker. The only problem is that when the floor is spread, there is not traffic in the lane and there is no shot-blocker waiting. This means that help-side defenders need to pinch in to cut off the drives, leaving shooters open from beyond the arc.
The answer seems simple. Stay in front of your man at all costs. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds. The entire philosophy of NC State’s defense needs to change. They need to, in a way, forget everything they were taught, stop overplaying and focus less on deflections and more on positioning. This is not an easy transition for 18 and 19-year-olds, many of whom only understand team defense from the perspective of the strategy they were taught since stepping on campus.
The onus of making this happen is going to fall on guys like Cam Hayes, Terquavion Smith, and Casey Morsell. These are the guys who are going to be guarding the Richmond guards. And while they will have a huge advantage in height, they’ll have a bit of a disadvantage in quickness.
The Richmond guards are small and fast, and unlike most ACC guards, these guys are driving to the lane, not to score, but to create havoc, move the defense and find open shooters.
Stay between your man and the basket.
If NC State wants to win this game, the #1 thing they need to focus on is keeping their defender in front of them. This means giving a bit of a cushion to Jacob Gilyard (5’9 PG). Hayes will have 6 inches on him, so he’ll need to be disciplined in not pushing up too much and encouraging the drive. His length will make it tough for Gilyard to get open looks off the bounce, even when giving him some cushion, and he’ll need to remember this. At the end of the day, if lose, you want to lose with Gilyard hitting contested 3’s over a defender with a 6-inch advantage.
Off the ball, State needs to be subscribed to the same strategy. Give cushion. Usually, Keatts wants his guys in passing lanes, jumping passes or pushing to get deflections. That plays right into Richmond’s hands. The backdoor cut is a pressure valve. When NC State overplays, they cut behind them for an easy bucket. This isn’t the game to try to stay in the passing lane. NC State will take Richmond out of their offense, and in turn, out of the game if they are laser-focused on staying between their man and the basket, both on the ball and off the ball.
Again, NC State needs to come into this game acknowledging that they are willing to lose if Richmond is going to hit contested shots over defenders. The fact is, with the Pack’s size and length, the odds of Richmond doing that is low. They don’t have the personnel to rely on that, and they haven’t been successful trying to do that all season.
However, if the Pack doesn’t adjust to their style of play, then they are going to be playing right into the Spider’s wheelhouse. Richmond was built to beat teams like NC State, and if they’re not careful they’ll be walking right into their web.
It’s Not Over Till It’s Over
Look…I know the odds of NC State’s Men’s Basketball team going to the NCAA Tournament is next to zero percent.
In fact, according to Bart Torvik, the Wolfpack have a 1.1% chance of making the Dance as an at-large bid.
Don’t accuse me of wearing rose colored glasses, because I’m not. The fact remains, it’s not over until it is over.
What would have to happen for NC State to make the NCAA Tournament?
More than likely, NC State would have to win out the rest of the way, in games against Boston College, @ FSU, @ UNC, Duke and @ Pitt.
Maybe there’s a scenario where the Wolfpack beats BC, FSU, Pitt and beats either Duke or UNC. In order for that to play out, I imagine the Wolfpack would have to make a splash in the ACC Tournament as well.
Or maybe NC State could earn a bid winning 4 of 5 if they all of a sudden put together astronomical offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, which thus far has killed their position in the NET Rankings.
Either way, you would need some legit Cardiac Pack vibes for this team to make the Dance.
Call me unrealistic, but I think NC State should be in the NCAA Tournament every single season. Historically speaking, heading into this season, NC State ranked 27th for the most wins in college basketball history. If I lowered the standard a bit to 75%, accounting for an off year every now and then, the program is still way off the mark.
Read into this what you will, but if the Wolfpack doesn’t go to the Big Dance this year, that means they will have only gone twice in the past 7 years, and in my opinion, that’s unacceptable.
With that being said…GO PACK!
#6 NC State 70 UNC 80: BOX SCORE (with notes)
#6 NC State was defeated by their rival UNC this evening, falling 70-80 to the Tar Heels. Below is the Box Score with notes underneath.
- This game came down to shooting.
- UNC shot 50.8% from the field and NC State shot 35.2%.
- The Tar Heels shot an insane 52.4% from three, hitting 11 from beyond the arc.
- The Wolfpack shot 9 of 27 from deep.
- Junior Guard Aziaha James led the Pack with 24 points (10-24), and also grabbed 9 rebounds.
- Senior Forward Mimi Collins had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Pack needed to feed Collins. She was 3 of 6 from the field.
- Junior Guard Saniya Rivers had 13 points (4-13), and knocked down 4 three pointers (3-6).
- Senior Guard Madison Hayes had 11 points (4-12) and 9 boards.
- Senior Center River Baldwin struggled, hitting 2 of her 9 shots.
- The Wolfpack did manage to score 17 second chance points, compared to UNC’s 7.
- They also made 11 free throws, compared to UNC’s 5.
- UNC played extremely good defense, but NC State missed an obscene amount of shots around the rim.
- The Tar Heels looked like the better team tonight, leading for 3/4th of the game.
The Wolfpack will play at Duke on Sunday at 5:30pm on ACC Network.
#6 NC State Looks to Sweep Rival UNC This Evening
The 6th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team is looking to sweep their rival UNC this evening at 8pm on ACC Network. Back on February 1st, the Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels 63-59. At the time NC State was ranked 5th, and UNC was ranked 24th.
Since arriving in Raleigh, Wolfpack Head Coach Wes Moore has led NC State to a 13-9 overall record against the Tar Heels, but they are 4-6 in Chapel Hill under his watch.
NC State lost to UNC the last time the game was played in enemy territory, falling 46-57 loss in Carmichael Arena on January 15th of last year. In that contest, the Wolfpack were ranked 11th and the Tar Heels were ranked 22nd.
If NC State wins tonight, it will mark the 4th time that Moore has led the Wolfpack to sweep UNC in the regular season.
Historically, NC State holds a 63-54 advantage in the series against UNC, but they are 20-30 on the road.
NC State’s Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Late Season Watchlist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award
NC State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Naismith Late Season Watchlist for the Coach of the Year Award.
The leader of our Pack 🐺🐺
— NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) February 21, 2024
Currently, Moore has led NC State from being unranked in the preseason polls, to #6 currently. The Wolfpack are 23-3, and numerous publications project them to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in 2020-21 and a Semifinalist in 2015-16.