NC State travels to Wake Forest tonight for a ‘big’ game for both teams. Although this is a conference game, it is one of three defining games the Wolfpack will play – Wake, @ Arizona, vs Florida – before the conference season kicks into high gear in January.
Both Wake Forest and NC State enter ACC conference play as relative unknowns: sure, the Demon Deacons beat Gonzaga in Spokane, but what are we to make of their double-digit homecourt loss to William & Mary that same week? Similarly, NC State’s victory over Marquette on the road was noteworthy, but their less than impressive victory in their last game over Elon, one of the weakest teams in the nation, has Wolfpackers scratching their heads. Wake enters Sunday’s game at 7-2, riding on the back of Al-Farouq Aminu (15.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg). Ishmael Smith has increased his production for the Deacs, but the true compliment to Aminu this season has been freshman guard C.J. Harris’ shooting, bringing 12.4 ppg while shooting 53% from the floor. State will rely on Tracy Smith and his 18.3 ppg and 9.4 rpg to go toe-to-toe with Wake Forest’s Aminu. In the end though, offensive rebounds could be the factor in this matchup: neither team has shot the ball well this season, Wake is the tallest team in the nation and rebounds accordingly, while NC State has been below average on the defensive glass. Both Dino Gaudio and Sidney Lowe are under pressure from the fanbase to produce after underperforming last year. For both teams, a win in Winston-Salem would be a good place to start for proving they belong in the top half of the ACC.