(Entry comprised of contributions from Alpha Wolf, Jeff, and other SFN author team. Moved to the top of the page on Saturday afternoon.)
We posted on Friday that we were hearing rumors Courtney Fells’ ankle continues to give him trouble and that he is questionable for Saturday’s key match-up against the Florida Gators. Then the following was made public -Lowe says Fells a game-time decision
Make no mistake about the significance of today’s basketball game – this game has become a key ‘inflection’ game in the Wolfpack’s 2008-2009 season.
(Presuming that State wins ten out of conference games by not tripping in our February 3rd game against North Carolina Central) It is this simple – if NC State wins today’s game in Gainesville then we can legitimately include discussions about a hopeful NCAA Tournament bid during the first 25% of the ACC schedule. If the Wolfpack cannot grab this unexpected road victory then all of our ‘hopeful projections’ for the rest of the season must be to be discussed against the context of trying to earn an NIT berth, not an NCAA berth.
- If Win – With the wide strength of the Atlantic Coast Conference and the significant difficulty of our ACC opponents, the Wolfpack would have a strong case for an NCAA Tournament bid with an 8-8 conference record and a win against the Gators. This scenario would make the Pack 19-10 before the ACC Tournament with wins over a few NCAA Tournament foes including at Florida.
- If Loss – State would be battling uphill all season after losing three key out of conference games against solid competition. Marquette took down Villanova this week, making that loss all the more painful.
This Gator team is both young and talented and look to extend the success of the Gator program that is the third winningest program in college basketball in this decade. Their streak of nine consecutive NCAA bids was broken last season as their roster was comprised of the youngest team in all of college basketball; but the Gators rallied with an appearance in the NIT’s Final Four laying strong foundation for this season that has seen them start 11-2 which includes the following:
- currently riding a five game winning streak.
- losses to Syracuse and Florida State
- squeaked by Washington by two points on a neutral court.
For Wolfpack notes on the game you can click here. Some Florida-related notes on the game:
- Florida is holding its opponents to just 60.8 points per game during its five-game winning streak.
- Florida has held eight of 13 opponents to 60 points or less this season
- Florida has not trailed in 158:43 seconds, dating back to a 6-3 deficit against UCF on Dec. 20
- Florida has won 14 non-conference home games in a row and are 7-0 at home this season
Florida Probable Starters
No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG/RPG
21 Dan Werner F 6-8 230 Jr. 10.5/5.0
25 Chandler Parsons F 6-9 213 So. 8.8/5.4
23 Alex Tyus C 6-8 220 So. 14.2/6.8
33 Nick Calathes G 6-6 194 So. 15.7/6.7a
15 Walter Hodge G 6-0 170 Sr. 8.2/2.5a
The following is a PDF download that includes everything else you might want to know about the Gators.
As always, Section Six has a great analysis of the game (click here).
Outside of Duke and Carolina, this might be the best offense we see all season, with the sort of good shooting/ball security combination that is very bad news for NC State. The Pack’s defense forces a turnover just 15.9 percent of the time (which ranks 339th nationally), and we can’t even force mistake-prone teams to make mistakes. Give a team that shoots this well the luxury of not having to worry about any sort of disruption from the opposition and, well… we are really screwed. (Jinx jinx jinx jinx.)
State fans will recall that starting Florida forward Dan Werner was originally committed to play for NC State but backed out when Herb Sendek resigned to take the Arizona State job. We said the following about Werner at the time:
Looks like an Evtimov clone. He has a great basketball body and decent athletic ability. He has vey good shooting form and is an excellent passer. He will contribute immediately.
Werner would have probably started for the Wolfpack in his freshman year – Coach Lowe’s first season. In hindsight, his presence on that squad may have meant an NCAA Tournament bid for the Wolfpack.
The N&O/Charlotte Observer featured an article on Werner’s impact to the NC State program that can be seen by clicking here. We have an entire entry devoted to the topic that you should read by clicking here.