NC State Wolfpack @ Miami Hurricanes
Location: Miami, FL
Line: Miami -3
Ken Pom Prediction: Miami 75 – NC State 71
NC State is coming off a 2 game losing streak (one that we warned you about) and heading back into ACC play to take on Miami.
Miami is coming off a 5 game winning streak, with the only notable win was against Clemson. But don’t get it twisted, Miami is a good team. They are 9-3 so far this season. They do however have a 30 point loss to #10 Alabama, a 16 point loss to Dayton and 6 point loss to UCF.
The good news for NC State is that this is a team more their speed. Both Richmond and Wright State were very disciplined, fundamental teams, which sadly, NC State seems to have no chance against. Miami, on the other hand, is big, athletic and a bit out of control (the type of team State was built to beat).
Miami is almost fully relient on guard play. Kameron McGusty, their leading scorer, is a 6’5 Oklahoma transfer who is averaging 18+ points per game and shooting 43% from long range. McGusty can shoot, but he’s at his best in transition or driving to the hoop where he is able to finish at the rim, or with a floater.
Then there is the crazy quick and athletic Isaiah Wong. Wong is a 6’3 sophomore guard who is averaging over 15 points per game. He’s only shooting 32% from long range, so he’s not really someone that is going to light you up form deep, but it doesn’t matter. His extreme shiftiness is going to be a problem for the Pack.
Outside of those two, you have the 5’11 senior Charlie Moore who is averaging 10 and 6’10 senior Sam Waardenburg who is averaging 7, but can step out and knock down the 3.
Although State is favored to lose this game, we think this is a good matchup for them and we believe this is a very winnable road game.
For State, the keys are going to be getting a good game from Hellems (he’ll have a good matchup) and Terquavion Smith. The X-factor, however, will be the play of Casey Morsell who hasn’t been the same since going down with an ankle injury. With a week off, we think he should be back to full speed and ready to contribute. If the Pack can get good scoring production from those guys, they win.
Defensively, they match up pretty well. Miami doesn’t have a dominant post presence (which is another area State struggles), and they rely on their big athletic guards (something State has a plethora of).
Overall, like we said, this is a winnable game and one that can put the Wolfpack back on the right track as ACC plays begins to ramp up.
NC State’s NET Ranking After Defeating Maryland Eastern Shore
NC State defeated Maryland Eastern Shore 93-61 last night, improving to 6-2 on the season. Ironically, they fell one spot in the NET Rankings, from 51st to 52nd.
NC State’s two losses were against #1 BYU (!) and Ole Miss (#89). BYU was a Quad 1 loss, and Ole Miss was a Quad 2 loss.
The Wolfpack currently rank 7th in the ACC.
ACC Teams in NET Rankings
52) NC State
71) Virginia Tech
91) Boston College
105) Wake Forest
107) Florida St.
159) Georgia Tech
212) Notre Dame
For a refresher on how the NET Rankings are calculated:
Using the quadrant system, which was in its fourth season in 2020-21, the quality of wins and losses will be organized based on game location and the opponent’s NET ranking.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
The number of Quadrant 1 wins and Quadrant 3/4 losses will be incredibly important when it comes time for NCAA tournament selection and seeding. (NCAA)
Kansas Transfer MJ Rice Makes Quite the Impression in his NC State Debut
We’ve seen a lot of new faces on the NC State Men’s Basketball team this season, but one face we haven’t seen yet is Kansas Transfer Guard/Forward M.J. Rice (6’5″/215)…until tonight.
Rice stepped away from the program for personal reasons earlier this Fall, and when he returned, he had a little catching up to do. It wasn’t until today during shoot around that Rice and Keatts both knew that tonight would be his debut.
“He’d been practicing for the last couple of weeks, and you know, I was just trying to figure out when he was ready. He and I, we talked a little bit after shoot around today and I said ‘MJ you ready to go tonight?'” said Kevin Keatts. “and he had this big huge smile on his face. He’s like ‘You sure you ready?’ He’s like ‘Ask me some plays.’ So he and I sit over there on the scores table at the Dale and we went over plays and I was like ‘You know what, you are ready to play.'”
Out of all the transfers Keatts brought in this offseason, Rice might have the highest ceiling. Rice was a 5-Star prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, and ON3 ranked him as the #24 overall prospect nationally. He committed to Kansas, where he played in 23 games for the Jayhawks as a Freshman in 2022, averaging 2.2 points in 7.6 minutes per game. Rice was a huge pickup in the Transfer Portal, ranked as the #2 player in the Portal, with three years of eligibility remaining.
Rice also isn’t new to the area either, playing high school ball at Durham Academy, before heading off to Oak Hill Academy and Prolific Prep.
In a short sample size, Rice gave us a glimpse of what the hype is all about tonight. He scored 11 points in 11 minutes of play, also grabbing 6 boards. Rice was 5-6 from the field, and hit the only three he took. In the most electrifying play of the night, Rice took it coast-to-coast, finishing with a soaring dunk.
“He gives us another dimension. We’ve been playing with six of our new dudes. Now we added the seventh and I’m happy for him. He’s going to help us. He’s going to be really good for us.” said Keatts. “I said this on the radio just now…we’ve got some older guys, but two really good young players in Dennis Parker Jr. and also MJ Rice. It was good for MJ to see the ball going in. I think he played 10 minutes had 11 points. He made a three. He had a big time dunk, so I was excited for him.”
“He gives us the ability to play a little bit more small ball. If we have to, we can play him and Dennis Parker both at the three and four. Really good defender at that position and can rebound the basketball,” said Keatts. “It’s going to take time. I’m trying to figure out how to kind of put him into the rotation, and now we’ve added another really good exciting piece to it, but it was good to have him back out there.”
Welcome to the Pack MJ! We’re glad you’ve arrived!
NC State 93 UMES 61: BOX SCORE
Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of NC State’s Win Over BC
Ready to watch NC State’s Men’s Basketball team play in the ‘old barn’ tonight against Maryland Eastern-Shore? Well, until 7pm, go ahead and get yourself hype by watching Pack Insider’s Highlight Reel of the Wolfpack’s ACC opening win over BC this past Saturday. Check it out above.