While Wednesday night’s victory over Duke told NC State fans a lot about the ability and potential of the team, Saturday’s match up with Maryland in College Park may paint a clearer picture of what fans can expect the rest of the season.
A win against the Terps, who are currently 2-1 in the wacky ACC, and this team could get on a roll in the second half of the season and actually make some noise in conference. A loss could continue the roller coaster ride that Wolfpack fans have experienced to this point.
Testudo Times, a blog dedicated to covering all things Maryland, put together a great first look preview of Saturday’s game, even touching on the fact that NC State is a team that has people’s attention.
With the one-game vacay that was Longwood behind us, Maryland’s moving back to ACC play for a home game against North Carolina State, perhaps the most puzzling team in the ACC.
Had I written this preview two weeks ago, the entire tone would be completely different. That Wolfpack would’ve had losses to UVA and Northwestern at home, and a loss to a below-average Arizona team on the road. I would’ve called them a traditional Sid Lowe team: lots of talent, but still underachieving.
But things were recently starting to look up for the Wuffies. Remember, they only lost to a decent Florida team by one on a miracle shot. The Virginia loss looks better by the day. And they’ve performed extremely admirably the past two ACC games, beating Florida State in Tallahassee and only losing to a good Clemson team by 3.
And then, of course, they played Duke last night. Perhaps you heard of it? They completely outplayed the Dookies in every aspect of the game and walked away with a 14 point win.
And suddenly, this game becomes all the more scarier.
I must say it’s pretty cool to have outsiders recognizing the improvement going on in Raleigh. OK, enough of that.
There are several keys to Saturday’s game, but the most important, once again, will be how well NC State takes care of the ball. Against Duke Wednesday the lack of turnovers (nine total) allowed NC State to get quality possessions and looks at the basket throughout much of the night. The ability of the Wolfpack to hold onto the ball certainly helped the Pack shoot over 58 percent from the floor (still can’t really believe that stat).
NC State will also need to do try and limit Greivis Vasquez and his play-making ability. While the Wolfpack couldn’t stop Jon Scheyer from scoring Wednesday night, State did limit his ability to get others involved. That could be a good approach with Vasquez. Let him get his points but try to keep him from becoming an assist machine. In the two meetings with Maryland in 2009, the Wolfpack couldn’t quite get that done, allowing Vasquez to tally 50 points and 15 assists in two games.
Another important thing will be to get Tracy Smith involved early and often. The Terps aren’t particularly imposing inside so Smith could have another big game, or at least get the Terps in foul trouble if he’s aggressive early on.
Check out Backing the Pack for the normal statistical look at Maryland.
There will be a Live Blog during the game tomorrow. It should be live around 5:45 p.m. for a little pre-game talk before the tip at 6 p.m. If you decide to join us in the chat, be sure to have your sarcasm ready.