Virginia Tech Hosts NC State

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Virginia Tech, Mike Young
Mike Young and Virginia Tech will host NC State on Saturday. (Ivan Morozov)

Virginia Tech vs. NC State

Saturday, January 11, 2 PM, RSN (affiliate list)

Virginia Tech returns to Cassell Coliseum to take on NC State in an ACC battle on Saturday afternoon.  Both teams come into this weekend’s contest with an identical 11-4 overall record, and both are 2-2 in conference play as well.  On paper, this seems like an even matchup.

NC State has a good non-conference victory over Wisconsin on their resume.  However, they also began the season with an 82-81 home loss to Georgia Tech, and were later defeated by a reeling Clemson team 81-70.  The Tigers had lost six of their previous seven games, including a home loss to Yale, before defeating the Wolfpack.

NC State has ACC victories over Wake Forest (91-82 on the road) and Notre Dame (73-68 at home).  They have two road victories over Wake and UNC-Greensboro.  Like the Syracuse team the Hokies beat on Tuesday night, the Wolfpack have been good offensively this season, but they’ve struggled on the defensive end of the court.

Adj. Off. Efficiency: No. 9
Effective FG%: No. 51
Turnover %: No. 27

The Wolfpack do a good job of protecting the basketball.  Unlike many teams these days, they are more focused on the interior on the offensive end.  54.3% of their points come from inside the arc, which is No. 73 nationally.  Meanwhile, just 29.1% come from three-point range, which ranks No. 220.  That said, they have enough capable shooters to be very dangerous from the outside.

Things haven’t gone as well for NC State on the defensive end…

Adj. Def. Efficiency: No. 140
Effective FG%: No. 180
Turnover %: No. 97
3-Pt.%: No. 203

The Wolfpack routinely give up a lot of points, and opposing teams have lit them up from the outside at times this year.  NC State has given up at least 79 points in all four of their losses…

82-81 vs. GT
83-78 vs. Memphis
79-73 vs. Auburn
81-70 vs. Clemson

They’ve even given up 70+ to teams with less talent, such as 77 to UNC-Greensboro and 77 to FIU.  However, in their two biggest wins of the season against No. 24 Wisconsin and No. 58 Notre Dame (ranks per Ken Pomeroy), they allowed just 54 and 68 points, respectively.  When this team plays defense, they can be very good.  However, they’ve been inconsistent on that end of the court this year.

NC State happens to be one of the ACC’s most experienced teams, in terms of minutes continuity.  Minutes continuity is a metric that measures minutes returning from one year to the next.  The Wolfpack rank No. 35 nationally in that statistic, and No. 61 in overall experience.  The Hokies rank No. 325 and No. 349 in those two metrics.  In short, NC State has a team full of guys who are used to playing with each other, whereas Tech has a team full of freshmen who aren’t used to playing with each other.

Here’s a look at NC State’s projected starting lineup…

G Markell Johnson (6-0, 180, Sr.): 12.9 ppg, 6.8 apg, 5 rpg.  Johnson is a very talented point guard who can both score and distribute.

G Braxton Beverly (6-0, 180, Jr.): 8.1 ppg, 39.3% 3-pt.  Beverly hit 136 three-pointers in his first two seasons at NC State, which is the most of any player in program history through their sophomore season.

G Devon Daniels (6-5, 205, Jr.): 11.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg.  Daniels shoots 50.8% from the field. 

F Jericole Hellems (6-7, 205, So.): 10.4 ppg, 3.5 rpg. Hellems has to be guarded out to the three-point line, where he is 34.7% on the season.

F Manny Bates (6-10, 230, Fr.): 6 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.2 bpg.  Bates is a big-time freshman shot blocker.

A big question for NC State will be the availability of redshirt senior guard CJ Bryce, who leads the team with 16.1 points per game this season, and he also leads the team with 6.8 rebounds. Bryce has missed three consecutive games due to a concussion.  His return would be huge for the Wolfpack, who have wins over Appalachian State and Notre Dame, as well as a loss to Clemson, during his absence.

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