When: Saturday, February 16
NC State was the preseason favorite to win the ACC. Although the Wolfpack are a good basketball that will play in the NCAA Tournament, they haven’t been quite as good as expected. With a 17-7 record, including a 6-5 mark in the ACC, they haven’t met expectations. Their computer numbers are still outstanding, with a #16 RPI rank, along with the #7 SOS in the country.
Despite their obvious talent level, NC State hasn’t been able to close out games on the road.
January 16: 51-50 L at Maryland
January 22: 86-84 L at Wake Forest
January 29: 58-55 L at Virginia
The Wolfpack also have a 79-78 home loss at the hands of Miami. Overall, NC State is only 2-5 on the road this season, while they sport a 12-1 record in Raleigh. Unfortunately for the Hokies, this one is in Raleigh.
The Coach: Mark Gottfied is in his second year at NC State, and he has proven to be the coach that the Wolfpack needed. He took his team to the Sweet 16 last season, and they are poised to return to the Big Dance this year. He also took Alabama to five NCAA Tournaments, and he had two more tournament appearances at Murray State.
NC State has a very talented roster, and for the most part they are an experienced basketball team. They have good size everywhere, though they aren’t particularly deep.
G Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr.): Brown has put up outstanding numbers as NC State’s starting point guard this season. He is averaging 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and he has dished out 148 assists. He also leads the team with 48 steals. Brown is a potential late first/early second round pick in the NBA Draft. He is a bigger guard, and will likely draw the assignment of defending Erick Green.
G Rodney Purvis (6-3, 195, Fr.): Purvis is a highly-touted freshman who averages 9.3 points per game and just over 29 minutes per game. He shoots 40.6% from three-point range. Purvis was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school.
F Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr.): Wood clearly has a small frame, but he is amongst the best shooters in the ACC. He is averaging 11.5 points per game, and he’s shooting 42.9% from three-point range. If there was a three-point shooting contest amongst ACC players, Wood would stand a great shot at winning.
F C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr.): Leslie is a skilled and talented combo forward for NC State. He averages 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and he also leads the team with 25 blocks. Leslie isn’t a three-point thread, but he can shoot the ball inside the three-point line, and his athleticism helps him finish well around the basket. He is a projected late first/early second round pick, and he’ll be a very difficult matchup for C.J. Barksdale and Marshall Wood.
F Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr.): Howell is the ACC’s best rebounder, and perhaps the most underappreciated big man in the country. He averages a double-double with 13.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. He fills up the stat sheet in other ways as well; Howell has 47 assists, 23 blocks and 26 steals this season.
F T.J. Warren (6-8, 223, Fr.): Warren is a talented freshman who is the first guy off the bench for NC State. He averages 11.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. He is 61.5% from the field this year, and 50% (10-of-20) from three-point range. Like Purvis, Warren was also a McDonald’s All-American.
G Tyler Lewis (5-11, 157, Fr.): Virginia Tech was one of the first teams to identify and recruit Lewis, who eventually went on to be a McDonald’s All-American. He’s a very smart player who gets 12.9 minutes per game for NC State. He is their point guard of the future.
Although they lack great depth, NC State is one of the most talented basketball teams in the country. They have outstanding athletes, some guys who can really shoot the basketball, and a terrific college post player in Richard Howell. They create matchup problems at a number of spots, and as a team they are shooting 40.1% from three-point range this year.
A Long, Slow Finish
Even though there are seven regular season games left, it’s pretty clear what’s coming. The Hokies are in a tunnel, there’s a train coming through, and even though it’s a ways off, it’s still clear that they aren’t going to be able to get out of the way in time. The only thing we can do is stay put and embrace for impact.
Tech plays NC State on Saturday, and they follow that up by hosting Duke and Florida State. Then they’ll travel to Miami, host Clemson, and close the season with road trips to Duke and Wake Forest. Home contests with Clemson and Florida State are the only games I would mark as “winnable”, but the Hokies will have to start playing better than they have the last couple of games.
It’s one thing to lose in ACC basketball. You can play a very good, very competitive game and still lose to a good team. It’s another thing entirely to get run out of the gym, and that’s what has happened Tech over the last two games. In fact, the Hokies are an overtime win over Georgia Tech and a missed putback by Wake Forest from being winless in ACC play.
My advice: enjoy Erick Green while he’s still here. Any win that happens to come along is just gravy at this point.