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NC State comes in as big underdogs vs. VT | Preview, Breakdown & How to Watch

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NC State Wolfpack vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Blacksburg, VA
TV: ACCN
Line: VT -9

Virginia Tech comes in 8-5 overall. However, they really haven’t beaten anyone great. Their best win is a 4 point victory over Maryland (who is also 8-5 so far). They have losses to #9 Memphis, #25 Xavier, Wake (lost by 20 at home), Dayton, and #2 Duke.

Now they host NC State, but they are coming off a long COVID hiatus where they were forced to postpone 2 straight games. In fact, the Hokies haven’t played a game since December 22nd, which is nearly 3 weeks. Are they ripe for the pickin’ or is Vegas right in predicting Tech wins by 9?

Before we get into that, let’s take a closer look at the Hokies…

VT is well balanced. They have 5 guys who are decent scorers. Their leader is Keve Aluma. He’s a 6’9 senior who is athletic. While he isn’t really dominant at popping out and beating you off the bounce or shooting from beyond the arc with much consistency, he is very good at getting position down low and can finish through contact. He’s averaging 15 points and 6 boards. Most of his points don’t come from VT dumping it down, clearing out, and letting him work. They come from their guards penetrating, demanding help, and dumping off to Aluma who finishes.  Honestly, watching Aluma, you’d think that he’d be an even more dominant force based on his size and athleticism. He moves well, he can get out on the break, and he’s got big bounce. This isn’t a knock. The guy is good and can score in a lot of different ways, and is going to be a problem for State.

They then have 3 guys who average 10 ppg. 6’7 senior slasher Justyn Mutts, 6’3 junior shooter Hunter Cattoor, and 6’4 junior do-it-all guard Nahiem Alleyn. After this group is their point guard, 6’0 senior Storm Murphy averaging 8.

Mutts is going to be an issue for NC State. He’s long, athletic and has a good motor. He’s going to spend most of his time drifting out towards the perimeter, but he can take it down low if he needs to. He’s active on the break and a real high-flyer. He’s not an awful shooter either, knocking down 32% from deep.

Cattoor is the shooter. Think Scott Wood. The guy is going to come off of a ton of screens and shoot a bunch of 3s. He has nearly unlimited range and knocks it down at a crazy 44.8% clip.

Alleyn is another good guard who can slash, pass and shoot. He doesn’t nothing great, but does everything pretty well. And then you have Murphy, who is a pesky guard that likes to get in the lane, create havoc and find open shooters. He’s a decent shooter himself, but not going to take over a game.

Tech is big, athletic, and experienced. They are a beatable team with some flaws, but it’s not going to be easy. Here’s how you do it.


Keys to the game for NC State

  • Keep Seabron at the point. The experiment we begged to see, came to fruition and completely changed the way NC State looked on offense. Suddenly they didn’t look stagnant. Seabron created a problem out top on the pick and roll and was able to draw down defenders and find open shooters. Keatts needs to commit to this change and not look back.
  • Stop dribble penetration and stay home..LIMIT 3s. Virginia Tech is going to be bothered by NC State’s constant switching. They get a lot of their buckets on shooters coming off of screens, but those passes aren’t going to be there. Instead, they are likely going to try to play a lot of inside-out basketball. This means you’ll see a lot of dribble drives and kicks, and dump-downs to the post. Dowuona and Hellems are going to struggle with Aluma and Mutts on the block, and you better believe when those bigs get guards to switch on them, they’ll try to find that mismatch and exploit it (they’re a veteran team). You have to live with the fact that they are going to get theirs in the post. State played this well vs. Purdue and I believe they’ll do the same thing vs VT. The Hokies get a lot of points from their forwards, but this is a guard-driven team and they definitely rely on the 3 to win games. If you can take their guards out of rhythm and keep their open shots to a minimum, they’ll get out of sorts or start to force things that aren’t there.
  • Communication is key. The Hokies run a lot of off-ball screens to get guys open. They do a lot of pick and rolling. They don’t mind playing in the half-court, so communication is paramount. State needs to not lose their men on these screens and let each other know when they are switching and when they are staying put. Watch a little VT and you’ll see that they get 5 or 6 buckets a game purely off miscommunication by the defense.
  • Knock down shots. Easier said than done, right? If you aren’t going to beat VT, you need to shoot it well. They aren’t going to respect Dowuona in the post, so you aren’t to get guards helping down. This is why Seabron at the point is so important. He’s the one guy on NC State that demands help-side. Seabron off the bounce will create open looks outside for guys like Smith, Hellems and Allen. They just need to connect.
  • Beat them on the boards. Did you know that NC State is actually a pretty good rebounding team despite their lack of depth in the middle? Most of it is thanks to Seabron leading the ACC at 9.9 per game, but they get boards from everyone, thanks to their size and length. VT has Aluma down low, but he’s not a great rebounder. It’s Mutts who averages the most at 7.5 per game. If State can keep Mutts off the glass, then they’ll be on their way to winning this battle. And limiting second chance points for VT is big if you want to win.

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Afterglow
Afterglow
2 years ago

The long hiatus seemed to work for FSU but here’s to hoping we can get the win.

NC State Basketball

Bowling Green Transfer Guard Marcus Hill is on a Visit to NC State

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Bowling Green Transfer Guard Marcus Hill (6’4″/185) confirmed with me that he is currently on a visit at NC State.

Hill averaged 20.5 points and 5.0 rebounds per game for the Falcons this season. He earned 1st Team All-MAC honors. Even though he was only at Bowling Green one season, he had one of the best seasons in school history, scoring 698 points, which ranks 5th all-time in program history for a single season.

For his first two years of collegiate ball, Hill played for Southern Union State College (JUCO) in Alabama. In 2022-23, Hill earned 3rd Team NJCAA All-American honors, and ranked as the #32 overall Junior College prospect.

247Sports ranks Hill as a 4-Star Transfer Prospect, and the #78 overall player in the Transfer Portal, and the #11 Shooting Guard.

According to a source, the NC State Coaching Staff is extremely high on Hill, and they are recruiting him as a Point Guard.

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NC State Basketball

What did an ACC Title & Final Four Mean to NC State Legend Dennis Smith Jr.?

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What did an ACC Title & Final Four mean to NC State Legend Dennis Smith Jr.? The man who won the ACC Rookie of the Year Award in 2017 gave me a statement.

It means a lot. It means a lot to the university, the state of North Carolina and a lot more to my dad, grandma, and myself. They have been NC State fans since forever, so their excitement level was though the roof when they saw BOTH of our basketball teams shining like that. It was a great feeling!

2017 was Smith Jr.’s only year of College ball, averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He earned 2nd Team All-ACC honors, and obviously, he earned a spot on the ACC All-Freshman Team.

DSJ was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks with the 9th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Smith Jr. just wrapped up his 7th season in the NBA. This was his 1st season with Brooklyn, playing in 56 games for the Nets. He averaged 6.6 points, 3.6 assists, 2.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game, averaging 18.9 minutes per contest.

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NC State’s DJ Horne Named to Portsmouth Invitational All-Tournament Team

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NC State’s DJ Horne played in the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament this weekend, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team.

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In 3 games, Horne averaged 14.3 points, shooting 41.5% from the field, and 30% from three.

Horne’s Portsmouth Partnership team made it to the finals, but lost to Jani-King 68-75.

The Portsmouth Invitational is an annual pre-draft camp that has been showcasing College Seniors to professional scouts since 1953.

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NC State Has Shown Interest in Utah Guard Transfer Deivon Smith

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NC State has reached out to Utah Transfer Guard Deivon Smith (6’0″/173).

Smith filled up the stat sheet every game this year, averaging 13.3 points, 7.1 assists and 6.3 rebounds, shooting 46.7% from the field and 40.8% from three for Utah. He earned All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention this season. Smith had 8 double-doubles and 1 triple-double this year.

Wherever Smith lands, this will be his 4th college. He started at Mississippi St., starting in 8 of the 33 games he played in, averaging 22.5 minutes per game. Smith went on to spend his next two seasons at Georgia Tech. Year 1 in Atlanta, Smith started in 5 of the 24 games he played in, averaging 19.7 minutes per game. In Year 2, he carved out more of a role, starting in 13 of the 24 games he played in for the Yellow Jackets, averaging a career high 24.8 minutes per game.

At Utah this year, Smith broke out and had a career year in every possible way.

NC State is familiar with Smith, offering him back when he was a 4-Star prospect out of Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia. Rivals ranked Smith as the #53 overall player nationally in the 2020 recruiting class. ESPN ranked him as the #5 player in the state of Georgia. 247Sports ranked him as the #11 Point Guard in his class.

 

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