Thanks to Chop for neatly summarizing not only NC State’s in-game scenario, but also the rest of their season: the Wolfpack has no margin for error, and not only does each game rest on each four minute segment of their last few regular season contests, but each segment could also seal their post-season fate as well. The team is out of free passes: a loss right now to teams that the Pack can and should beat would be devastating to their NIT hopes.
Good thing for the Wolfpack that Maryland has not played well away from the Comcast Center. The Terps single road ACC win this season was 57-56 squeaker over DFL Georgia Tech on February 8th. But make no mistake – this is a very tough game as Maryland is fighting for their NCAA-Tournament-lives sitting at 6-7 in the conference and 17-10 overall.
Additionally, the engine that drives the Terps – Greivis Vasquez – always plays particularly well against the Wolfpack. Vasquez presents match-up problems for everyone – particularly a Wolfpack team whose strong suit is not defense. If State matches-up man-to-man against the Terps the only hopes of containing Vasquez probably rest with Farnold Degand &/or Courtney Fells. With this said, we have to hope that Fells brings his “I am going to bust my ass” mindset as opposed to his “ho-hum, what is going on out here” attitude.
Despite the seemingly pessimistic view of Brett Friedlander in the ACC Insider, State has a solid chance of winning this home game and picking up at least one more conference win before heading to Atlanta in a couple of weeks.
Given N.C. State’s history, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Wolfpack can come out of nowhere, win the ACC Tournament and secure an automatic bid into the NCAA’s field of 65. More than likely, though, coach Sidney Lowe and his team are looking at the NIT as their most realistic postseason possibility.
For that to happen, it’s going to take at least one more win — which would guarantee State of an above .500 finish. The problem is, that win won’t come easily at home against a hungry Maryland team, at home against Boston College and on the road against a Miami squad that could be playing for its NCAA Tournament life before going to on to Atlanta.
Fair enough, but I expect State to pick up two more wins before the tournament and I think that they win in the ATM against the Terps.
In my mind, the key to the game is simple: shut down Vasquez and cut the head off of the turtle offense.
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