The Florida Gators come to town for an ‘inflexion’ in the Wolpack’s 2009-2010 season.
To this point in the season, the NC State has tracked slightly ahead of expectations. Today’s game will be particularly significant to the Wolfpack’s season because of the ‘Florida’ name and the major conference in which the Gators play. If Coach Lowe’s Wolfpack is fortunate enough to be discussed for any postseason tournaments when we get to March, today’s game will truly be one of the swing games on our schedule.
Ignoring Florida for a moment, the Pack could effectively hold a 12-3 record before launching into the main part of the ACC schedule with a ‘must win’ when we host very beatable Virginia next Saturday, Jan 9th at noon. If one were to presume wins over Holy Cross on (Jan 6) and North Carolina Central (Jan 30th) then today’s game makes the difference between a solid 13-3 record or a respectable 12-4 that would require six conference wins to get to 18 wins. At the end of the year, 18 wins could be enough to earn an NIT berth; and non-conference wins over both Marquette and Florida could be differentiating factors for the Wolfpack.
This is the type of game that deserves a deeper look at the opponent. There is no reason for us add to all of the hard work already provided here by Backing the Pack.
Between opponents’ low 3FG% and low 3FGA/FGA ratio, Florida’s perimeter D is looking positively Duke-esque. They’ve turned around their interior defense as well. And they’re forcing lots of turnovers while avoiding fouls, which is the defensive ideal everyone should strive for. I wonder about that TO%, though. Their steal and block rates are right in line with last year’s, so the higher TO% could be a function of a slate of crappy, mistake-prone foes. But that’s pure conjecture; obviously, there’s much more to a team’s defensive impact than block and steal rates.
I have a hard time believing their FG% defense is that much better, and if we manage to not throw the ball away willy-nilly, second chance opportunities should be available.
The Pomeroy Predictor says flip a coin.
If we’re flipping a coin in the matter then one can only hope that the home court advantage can make the difference today.
Post-Script: For some additional fun, please click here to see comments before last season’s match-up with the Gators that focused a lot on former Wolfpack recruit, Dan Werner. Backing the Pack penned the following blurb today:
If I recall correctly, Werner was much more highly regarded than Dennis Horner coming out of high school, but Horner’s going to have the better college career when all is said and done. Not to sell Werner short–he’s been a reliable role player throughout his career. He’s just never been able to take the next step, and he’s shooting a modest 31.9% from beyond the arc in 3+ seasons, which feels disappointing in retrospect.