We all were hoping for a big win against #3 Kansas, but no one can be mad with the product the Wolfpack put on the floor today.
Sure, NC State lost by 6, but we learned that the Pack can compete with the nation’s best. Here is ‘Our Take’ on the close loss.
NC State showed that they are going to be competitors
The game being this close the whole way through was no fluke. This wasn’t a game where State was red hot, making everything they put up. This wasn’t a game where Terquavion Smith was pouring in crazy 3s all day long. State shot just 38% from the floor. This is a team that you can expect to shoot in the mid-40s to low-50s from the floor on most nights. So what you got was a little below-average offensive output from the Pack.
And defensively NC State looked very, very good. There were very few missed assignments. They were swarming everywhere. The help and recover was great, and Kansas really had to work for their points. The x-factor ended up being Grady Dick, the 6’8 freshman sharpshooter. There were a few times when they lost him, but for the most part all of his 3s were pretty well contested. It just so happened he went 6-12 from 3-point range.
Casey Morsell is becoming a star
Morsell was seen by most as a glue guy coming into the season. Someone who was going to defend well, give you a little offense, but mostly just be that do-it-all jack of all trades that gives you positive output across the board. Well, he’s been that, but he’s been so much more. Morsell is an absolute smothering defender on the ball, and he’s always in the right spot on help-side. And suddenly, he’s found his shot. He is now hitting 62% of the 3s on the season after going 5-8 in this one.
Oh, and he also filled up the stat line. He was 2nd on the team with 8 boards, had 2 assists and 2 steals. He finished with a team-high 21 points.
Give credit to Smith for adjusting at the half
This wasn’t the Terquavion Smith we were hoping for, at least not early on. He came out of the game gunning as you would expect in a nationally televised game. And no one should fault him for that, but the kid was off. He was forcing the issues and in previous years it would be a game where he just disappeared. However, Smith adjusted at halftime. He came out and didn’t shoot a single 3 in the second half. Instead, he let Morsell and Joiner take a little more control, and when he did attack, he did that off the bounce, getting to the rim and scoring or drawing contact. He also played a lot better on defense, especially on the help side. Oh and he finished with 19 points on the game, despite going 5-15 from the floor.
The bigs held their own
There were some positives and negatives from the NC State bigs. This was a tough matchup for them, with Adams being so mobile, but they did fine against him. They both defended the screen and roll pretty well, and they didn’t get out physicalled at any point of the game.
What we would have loved to see is a little more offense. They had the size advantage, but struggled to get it going offensively. I think both are getting their taste of high level college basketball. Lots of bodying and bumping is allowed in the post, so when you go up to score, you have to be ready for that. I think this is bothering Burns a little more than it’s bothering Mahorcic, but both need to be able to play through the contact and give NC State a few points from the block. That said, Mahorcic scored 4 points and snatched up a team high 9 boards, and Burns scored 8 and grabbed 5 rebounds.
NC State’s depth is in question
One thing that was clear. When State had to sub at any position other than center, there was a big drop off in production. Pass struggled once again and is battling some confidence issues it seems. Meanwhile, Ross isn’t putting himself in a position to make much of a difference offensively and seems to be getting pushed around a bit defensively. We didn’t see Greg Gantt or LJ Thomas, but both could start seeing some minutes if Pass and Ross don’t start showing some improvement with their minutes.
Because of this, it seemed as if NC State really wore down, down the stretch. They fought so hard, but they pressed a lot, played full-court defense, and had to really work on offense to get good shots. I’m worried about the type of energy they’ll have against Dayton/Wisconsin, tomorrow at 4 pm.
Overall, a great showing for Keatts and Company
Keatts was on his deathbed after last season. With his job in jeopardy this year, he only had Morsell surely coming back. Smith and Seabron were thought to be going pro and he had a bunch of transfers right after the year ended. What we saw on the floor today was a well-built team that is going to contend. With Smith back, Joiner in the mix and Morsell greatly improved, this team has one of the best backcourts in the ACC. Add in some flexibility at center, and you have a pretty good team.
Now, Keatts needs to choose his moments for technical fouls a little better, but aside from that, I think most fans really liked what they saw in this game and I’ll hold to my prediction that this team is either in the Top 25 or flirting with it at some point this season.
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.