When: Thursday, March 14
Where: Greensboro Coliseum
Time: Approximately 2:30pm
TV: The ACC Network/ESPNU
Last month the Hokies went to Raleigh and nearly came away with an upset win before falling to NC State 90-86 in overtime. Today they’ll try to close the game out against the Wolfpack and extend their season by another day.
In the first meeting, Erick Green scored 29 points, the Hokies got a late burst from Jarell Eddie (17 points), while Marshall Wood chipped in with 14 points and 16 rebounds. Will Johnston also got into the act with a couple of three pointers.
However, as it’s been all season, Tech’s defense was poor. NC State dropped 90 points on the Hokies, who had a difficult time containing a lineup that features a scorer at every position.
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 12.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, and he has dished out 204 assists. He also leads the team with 59 steals. Brown is a potential late first/early second round pick in the NBA Draft. The entire NC State lineup is capable of scoring in double figures, and Brown had 15 points and seven assists in the first meeting with Tech.
G Rodney Purvis (6-3, 195, Fr.): Purvis is a highly-touted freshman who averages nine points per game and just over 27 minutes per game. He shoots 39.5% from three-point range. Purvis was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. He had just two points against the Hokies in the first meeting.
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 12.1 points per game, and he’s shooting 42.4% from three-point range. If there was a three-point shooting contest amongst ACC players, Wood would stand a great shot at winning. He scored 22 points against Tech back in February, and he was 6-of-11 from three-point range. The Hokies have no chance to win this game if they don’t defend Scott Wood this time around.
F C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr.): Leslie is a skilled and talented combo forward for NC State. He averages 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game, and he also leads the team with 36 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. He had 16 points and nine rebounds in the first meeting, and he had a lot of success against Wood around the basket.
F Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr.): Howell is the ACC’s best rebounder, and perhaps the most under-appreciated big man in the country. He averages a double-double with 12.7 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. He fills up the stat sheet in other ways as well; Howell has 54 assists, 30 blocks and 32 steals this season. He had 10 points and 16 rebounds against Tech last month. He will be a handful for Cadarian Raines.
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 12.2 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. He is 61.3% from the field this year, and 54.2% (13-of-24) from three-point range. Like Purvis, Warren was also a McDonald’s All-American. He had 12 points against the Hokies in the first meeting. He has improved steadily as the season has progressed.
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. He had perhaps his best game of the season against the Hokies, scoring 13 points in 21 minutes. However, he can be a defensive liability against bigger guards.
Tech’s Defense Must Come to Play
In tournament basketball, you have to be able to play defense. Even if your shooting carries you to a couple of wins, your legs will eventually wear out and you’ll have to rely on stout defense to advance. For the Hokies, they’ll need that kind of effort to get past their first round opponent in Greensboro.
Is Marshall Wood likely to finish with 14 points and 16 rebounds again? No. Is Will Johnston going to make two three-pointers in this game? Probably not. Is Jarell Eddie suddenly going to catch fire in this game and finish with 17 again? Unlikely.
Sure, Erick Green will probably get his points. However, the Hokies can’t count on getting those offensive contributions from other players this time around. They are going to have to play defense, or they’ll be heading home early.