NC STATE BASKETBALL
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Good at home, Wolfpack can’t let successes cloud road games
“When we start off a game on fire, the momentum just kind of wears down,” Howell said. “I feel like it’s just a matter of keeping our head in the game.”
Consistency has mostly been an issue on defense. N.C. State has given up at least 50 points in the second half of the past two games. The Pack held onto a big first-half lead against UNC but let a 16-point advantage against Wake Forest go to waste.
Like Georgia Tech and Clemson before them, Virginia (14-5, 4-2 ACC) will attempt to slow N.C. State down and keep the score in the 60s.
N.C. State handled both the Yellow Jackets and Tigers, but both games were at PNC Arena, where N.C. State is 12-0 this season. On the road, the Wolfpack is 1-3, with the lone win coming at last-place Boston College.
After Saturday’s win over UNC, Howell said N.C. State’s goal was to win the ACC, not just beat the Tar Heels or Duke. To reach that goal, N.C. State has to figure out a way to win away from PNC Arena.
“We just need to get it done on the road; it’s as simple as that,” Howell said.
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
Once again, Wolfpack faces the challenge of dealing with success
If there’s one theme that’s emerged from N.C. State’s season it’s that finding success had been easy. Dealing with it has been the tough part.
For the second time this season, N.C. State faces the challenge of moving past an emotional victory.
N.C. State (15-4, 4-2) snapped its 13-game losing streak to rival North Carolina on Saturday, delighting a PNC Arena crowd with a 91-83 win. This week, the Wolfpack faces a road trip to Virginia and a home game against conference-leading Miami.
“This is new territory for our team, this is uncharted waters,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said during Monday’s coaches teleconference. “We’ve got a lot of guys that have not been in these types of situations. We’re learning. You’d better learn quick in this league.”
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
N.C. State at Virginia: Three to know
2. Media-driven drama?
Virginia, N.C. State and Miami tied for fourth place in the ACC last season with 9-7 records. The Cavaliers got the No. 4 seed and a first-round bye, setting the stage for a Friday quarterfinal against fifth-seeded N.C. State.
The Cavs and Wolfpack, then led by first-year coach Mark Gottfried, were both squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble entering the postseason. Virginia had won the head-to-head meeting in Raleigh, but N.C. State had played a more difficult schedule.
Before the ACC tournament began, Gottfried made a pointed case for his team, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Gottfried: “We were the 11th seed (in the ACC tournament) last year, and we could have been a lot less aggressive in our scheduling. We were 11-4 coming into (ACC play), and we could have been 13-2 if we’d scheduled differently. But that’s not what the recipe (for NCAA admission) has been.”
Here he paused to note a difference. “Look at Virginia. They’ve got no wins against the big three in our league (North Carolina, Florida State and Duke) and they’ve got the 223rd-ranked non-conference strength of schedule (actually the 227th). Yet they seem to be solidly in the field. We could have been ranked (in the Top 25) if we’d scheduled the 223rd-ranked schedule.”
After N.C. State beat Virginia in the ACC tournament, both teams got into the NCAA tournament. The Cavaliers, seeded 10th, lost 71-45 against Florida, and the 11th-seeded Wolfpack reached the Sweet 16.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett was asked Monday if he remembered Gottfried’s comments from last March.
“Oh, I remember – since you bring it up, that’s the first time I’ve thought about it,” Bennett said. “I think Mark was just trying to make a case for his team that they had a strong chance to get in, and obviously they went to the Sweet 16.
“No, look, I respect the job N.C. State is doing, and that’s – this is a new year, and obviously we’re just trying to get as good as we can. Look, we got in there, we limped in a little bit at the end, but we got a chance to get in there and got that experience. Didn’t do particularly well, but no, I just – I remember that. I don’t know the extent of it. I’m sure it was blown out of proportion, but nothing on this end.”
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State hopes to avoid letdown against UVA
“We got a pretty big challenge obviously Tuesday night. I think Tony [Bennett] has his team playing really well. He does such a great job in how they play and their style, and how well they defend teams. We see it as a big challenge.
“We also think we are at the point we have to take the next step and be able to win difficult, tough road games and tough atmospheres, which I’m sure we will have on Tuesday. We understand the challenge that lies ahead of us.”
Who is your glue guy this year?
“That is an interesting question. I don’t know if we have one glue guy. That’s a term that gets thrown around a lot. I don’t know how to answer that. I think we have a lot of guys that do a lot of different things on our team. You want to have a good team, you better have a lot of glue guys that do the things that go unnoticed a lot. I don’t know if we have one guy like that.
“I think all of our players have to take a charge defensively or get a defensive block-out. I don’t know if there is just one guy. Usually, when people throw that term around, it’s a guy that is not that talented and figures out a way to help his team play. I think all your guys have to be like that, so I don’t know if we have one or two guys. I like to think all of our guys are glue guys.”
How do you avoid not having a letdown against Virginia?
“I think when we beat Duke, there was so much attention around our team, it was hard to get past it. The days that followed, whether it was the wheelchair incident, or people calling or texting from all over the country, it’s hard to mentally move past it. You are getting a lot of attention.
“I just think and hope that our players understand better that in this league, you have mentally move on quickly. You have to get yourself prepared for your next opponent. It’s not that we weren’t prepared, but it was a emotional toll. Hopefully, we are better prepared.”
Will you do anything different this week compared to after defeating No. 1 Duke?
“I don’t know if there is any one thing you can do different. I was a good example myself. For three days after the Duke game, I had 150 text messages, and they kept coming from all over the country. Personally, you are ready to move on. Now, that you’ve done that, you are a little more used to handling that.
“This is new territory for our team. This is unchartered waters, and have a lot of guys that haven’t been in these type of situations. We are learning. You better learn quick in this league because just like Tuesday, we have a monster-type game against a really good opponent on the road. There is not much time for us to bask in the glory for any of us in this league.”
Gottfried: “We Understand The Challenge”
Without giving a game plan or anything away, what are some ways to attack Virginia’s defense, because they just seem to be strangling everybody.
Well, they’re very, very good, and I think offensively you have to be very good, as well. As they execute their defense, you’d better execute your offense. I just think they’re very good, and they execute defensively very well. I think offensively then you have to execute at a high level. I think if you don’t, if you don’t make sharp cuts and good screens and you’re taking quick shots and bad shots, then I think they win out.
So what we’ve got to do is make sure we do the things we do well, but also understanding that’s the type of game it’s probably going to be.
What makes Richard Howell such a great rebounder?
Well, I think there’s a lot of things. I think he has a great desire to go get the ball. I think he understands and anticipates a lot of times where the ball is going to be.
I think he has great hands, and he’s got a great feel for how to rebound, but I think more than anything, it comes down to having the tools but also having the desire. I think he’s got both.
I’d like your comment on what you see is the impact of freshmen on this particular game tomorrow.
Well, we’ve got a couple that we rely on heavily. I think Tony does, as well. I think for most teams in the league it’s pretty similar, some more than others. But I think we live in an age, in an era where our freshmen need to play and play well earlier for everyone in college basketball.
That’s just this world we live in somewhat. Hopefully ours will play well.
How about consistency? When you’re playing younger players like that, does it kind of go back and forth, ebb and flow?
Well, most of the time young people, they’re learning, and some young players, freshmen, learn quicker than others and become more consistent quicker.
But part of being a freshman is this is your first time through all this, first time to go on the road and go to a place like Virginia, first time to go through a long college season, first time to have the demands put on you of practice and class and all your responsibilities, first time everything is magnified at this level.
It’s difficult sometimes for young people to be consistent with all that going on.
Jan. 28, 2013
No. 19 NC State (15-4, 4-2 ACC) at Virginia (14-5, 4-2 ACC)
7 p.m. | Charlottesville, Va.
John Paul Jones Arena (14,593)
SERIES RECORD: NC State leads 81-58
LAST MEETING: NC State 69, Virginia 67 (3/9/12)
Play by play: Dave O’Brien Color: Bruce Pearl
It’s a match-up of offenses on opposite sides of the ledger. NC State boasts the top scoring offense in the ACC at 79.8 points per game, while Virginia is posting 62.8 points per contest.
Virginia comes into the contest with the best scoring defense in the ACC, allowing its opponents 51.0 points a game
Last season, the Pack broke a four-game losing streak against the Cavs with a 67-64 a quarterfinal victory in the ACC Tournament. The win helped NC State secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Pack’s last regular-season win over the Cavs was a 72-62 on Feb. 21, 2009, and its last win in Charlottesville was an 82-72 victory on March 2, 2005.
Cavaliers Battle NC State in ACC Showdown
The Cavaliers are 58-81 all-time against NC State in a series that dates back to 1912-13. Virginia is 35-23 against the Wolfpack in Charlottesville, including a 4-0 mark at JPJA. Virginia and NC State split two game last season as the Cavaliers beat the Wolfpack, 61-60, at JPJA, and NC State beat UVa, 67-64, in the ACC Tournament. The Cavaliers are 4-1 in their last five games against the Wolfpack.
The Cavaliers have held their first ACC opponents under 60 points for the first time in ACC history and rank in the top nine nationally in seven defensive categories, highlighted by its second-ranked scoring defense of 51.1 points per game. Offensively Virginia is averaging 62.8 points per game, shooting 46 percent from the field and 39 percent from 3-point land.
Junior Joe Harris (Chelan, Wash.) leads the ACC in 3-point shooting accuracy at a career-high 46.7 percent. Harris also leads Virginia in scoring at 14.8 points per game. Mitchell is averaging career highs in scoring (12.3 ppg) and rebounding (8.8 rpg), while senior point guard Jontel Evans (Hampton, Va.) is averaging 6.3 assists in his last three games.
Evan Nolte leads Virginia freshmen in scoring at 7.2 points per game and has started the last three games in place of the injured Darion Atkins (Clinton, Md.). Forward/center Mike Tobey (Monroe, N.Y.) has added 6.4 ppg and Anderson is averaging 6.1. Anderson is averaging 11.7 points per game and Nolte 9.7 ppg during the last three games.
Head coach Tony Bennett sports a 67-46 record, including a 4-1 mark against NC State, in four seasons at Virginia.
Doc Moseman (BleacherReport.com)
College Basketball Picks: NC State at Virginia, Odds and Predictions
NC State at Virginia Betting Storylines
Ever since stunning Duke in an eight-point victory as one-point underdogs at home, the Wolfpack have struggled with consistency in their last four games. They are averaging 79.8 points a game, which is the sixth-highest total in the nation, but they managed only 50 points in a one-point loss to the Terrapins and 66 points in a four-point win over the Tigers. The one constant has been this team’s ability to shoot the ball. Through the first 20 games of the season, NC State is shooting 50.9 percent from the field, which is the fourth-highest percentage in the country.
CJ Leslie has led the way with 15.4 points a game while shooting 55.8 percent from field. Lorenzo Brown is second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points and leading in assists with 7.2 a game. Richard Howell is also averaging close to 13 points a game while pulling down a team-high 11.1 rebounds. The Wolfpack as a team are averaging 37.2 rebounds and allowing 70.2 points a game.
Virginia is by no means the flashiest team in the ACC, with an average of 62.8 points a game while shooting 45.9 percent from the field. Its claim to fame this season has been a suffocating defense that is giving up an average of just 51.1 points to its opponents. It has held teams to fewer than 60 points in all six conference games and has not given up more than 65 points all season long.
When it does come to scoring points, the Cavaliers’ Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell have carried the load this year. Harris is averaging 14.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.4 assists and is shooting 46 percent from both the floor and from beyond the arc. Mitchell is chipping in another 12.3 points and leading the team in rebounds with 8.8 a game.
College Basketball Picks: NC State vs. Virginia Betting Predictions
This is a tough matchup on the road for NC State with an offense that has been struggling a bit going up against a stifling defense. The Cavaliers have pretty much had the Wolfpacks’ number in recent years. And Tuesday night should not be any different, especially playing this game at home where they have not failed to win or cover this year.
Take # 512 Virginia (-2) over NC State (Tuesday, Jan.29, 7 p.m.)
NC State vs. Virginia: Full Game Preview
NC State has a statistical edge over Virginia in one specific area, scoring, where the Wolfpack have the upper hand over the Cavaliers, 79 points per game to 62 points per game. The Four Factors in which NC State stands out are effective field goal percentage at 55.4 and free throw rate at 42.6.
NC State StatSmack
• Virginia has a better overall winning percentage over the last 30 years (0.572 to 0.571).
• Virginia does a better job contesting shots (35.3% allowed vs 40.3% allowed) than NC State this season.
• Virginia has a much higher 4-year graduation rate than NC State according to Kiplinger (85% vs 37%).
• Virginia allows fewer rebounds (30.0 allowed per game vs 34.5 allowed per game) than NC State this season.
• Akil Mitchell is ranked 36th nationally in rebounds.
• Charlottesville isn’t as congested as Raleigh (population is significantly lower).
• The Virginia blocks leader (Darion Atkins) has more blocks than the NC State blocks leader (C.J. Leslie).
• Virginia is better under pressure, and has defeated NC State in 6 out of the last 10 games decided by 5 points or fewer.
• Joe Harris is ranked 4th in the ACC in points and 3rd in the ACC in three-pointers.
Akula Wolf (BackingthePack.com)
NC State Vs. UVA Preview: Here Come The Slows
Ah, the Sultan of Slow himself, Mr. Tony Bennett. Prince Valium. Virginia ranks 344th nationally in adjusted tempo, which means that only three D-I schools are playing slower. Bennett’s UVA teams actually have gotten slower in each successive season, so I’m thinking this may be some sort of terrible experiment. By year 10 of his tenure, Virginia will be averaging 45 possessions per game, and all of its opponents will forfeit after their eyeballs fall out.
For a team that had to replace Mike Scott’s efficient production, they’ve done a good job of holding up so far. Their two-point accuracy has suffered, but they are shooting considerably better from outside, and they have the best eFG% in league play. But the Cavs are also still averaging fewer than a point per possession in ACC games because they rank ninth or worse in the other three factors.
State probably doesn’t have to be too concerned about giving up second chance opportunities or trips to the free throw line. But the Cavs aren’t likely to turn the ball over much–but against NC State, who does?–which means they’re gonna get a lot of shots at the rim.
Bennett sure knows how to get guys to defend. All three of his Washington State teams ranked in the top 20 in defensive efficiency, and while there was a bit of a dip in his first two years at UVA (had to clean out all the lingering Leitao), he’s right back on track. Virginia finished last year sixth and this year it is 13th. These friggin’ guys with their effort and hustle, man.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes Virginia by four.
No Fear Cavalier (TheSabre.com)
NC State Primer 2013
2. Offense. Based on his time as an assistant to Jim Harrick at UCLA, Gottfried has employed the UCLA High Post offense at both Alabama and NC State. In a recent ESPN Magazine article, Gottfried was quoted as saying “we’re running the same offense that’s worked for half a century now. It’s the UCLA high post. Guy named Wooden came up with it.” In other words, we’re likely to see this offense from State as long as Gottfried is coaching in Raleigh. As I wrote in last year’s NC State Primer, the “High Post is run out of a 2-3 set (two-guard front) that is designed to pull the defense out of the paint, relieve pressure on the point guard, and create spacing for post-up and 3-point opportunities.” Moreover, this breakdown of the High Post offense by Fran Fraschilla is still the best that I’ve seen on the subject.
NC State is currently ranked No. 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency, with the High Post firing on most cylinders. Good spacing has allowed NCSU to rank No. 9 nationally in 3-point percentage (40% vs. 35.5% last season) and No. 12 in effective field goal percentage (55.4% vs. 50.4% last season). Moreover, State is No. 25 in adjusted free throw rate, which tells you that the players are either getting the hoop (their “4″ and “5″ are shooting 55.8% and 58% from the floor) or the harm when they feed it into the post.
Much of this offensive efficiency, however, comes from easy transition buckets that end in high percentage shots. As with last season, the question is how well the Pack can perform offensively in the half court game against a team that puts the breaks on their transition attack. Maryland was able to play this style against NC State and held the team to 50 points, and I similarly like UVa’s chances to force the Wolfpack to have to grind it out. The key statistic is that State is a mere No. 319 in opponent turnovers per possession, which means that is likely to hit pay dirt against teams that crash the offensive glass and don’t get back in transition. These are not characteristics of a Tony Bennett team, so the question should be whether the Pack has the patience to crack the Pack-Line.
3. Defense. Defensively, Mark Gottfried primarily employs man-to-man defense, with some 1-3-1 and 2-3 zones as fallbacks. In the Wolfpack’s games against Clemson and Maryland, two teams that employ methodical offenses like Virginia, Gottfried had his team switch from man to zone, and both times the move was successful. The switch in the Clemson game allowed NC State to eke out a 66-62 home win, and Maryland scored a mere 51 points in a game that the Wolfpack lost on the offensive end. Neither Clemson (No. 189 in 3-point accuracy) nor Maryland (No. 217) could make State pay for its zone defense, but with UVa’s No. 17 ranking in 3-point accuracy (39.1%), Gottfried might be a bit gun shy about getting in the zone. As noted, this is one of the worst teams in Division I at forcing turnovers, which explains why the Wolfpack are No. 148 in adjusted defensive efficiency despite ranking No. 71 in opponent effective field goal percentage.
7. Prediction. The key statistic that was bandied about after NC State beat Duke and then lost at Maryland is that the Wolfpack is 1-13 in its last 14 ACC games following a victory over Duke or UNC, with that one win coming at home against UNC after a win against Duke. You get the idea. NCSU has historically had difficulty getting up for an opponent after beating its two premier rivals on Tobacco Road. So, will the Pack be 1-14 after Tuesday night since they just beat Carolina?
The Team Rankings Simulation has this one as a 65.8-64.1 Wolfpack win while 504-C Brandon has it as a 64.9-62.9 UVa win, with the Wahoos having a 56.3% chance of winning. I think that these predictions pretty much have it right, with this year’s contest looking a lot like last year’s regular season game.
There is, however, one key difference. Let’s look at the two statistics that I love: Last season, NC State was No. 283 in opponent turnovers per possession. As noted, this year, the Pack are No. 319. Last season, State was No. 37 in offensive rebounding rate. This season, the Pack is No. 102. These aren’t huge differences, but they do indicate that NC State is less dangerous than it was a season ago in the two categories that seem to cause Virginia the most problems. Indeed, the Wolfpack’s combined score of 421 would make them worse in these categories combined than any team that has beaten the Hoos this season. Virginia should force the visitors to play at its pace and limit transition opportunities in this one too.
So the question will be whether the Cavaliers can score enough to keep pace with the Wolfpack, and I will predict that the Hoos do just enough to eke out a 63-61 win.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
FIFTH QUARTER: A bad week for ACC’s big boys
1. Blue times two: Two weeks after beating No. 1 Duke, N.C. State broke a 13-game losing streak to its other Triangle rival by scoring an even more emotional 91-83 victory against North Carolina. Although the final margin of victory wasn’t as big as it could have been, the win was significant in that it marks the first time since 2002-03 that the Wolfpack has defeated both the Tar Heels and Blue Devils in the same regular season.
3. Homecourt advantage: Home teams in the ACC went 11-1 last week and are 28-10 (.737) this season in league games. Five teams are still unbeaten on their homecourt against ACC competition, including lowly Wake Forest, which is 3-0 at Joel Coliseum and 0-4 everywhere else. Miami, N.C. State, Duke and Virginia are the other unbeatens at home.
2. Beaten at their own game: UNC has overwhelmed many an opponent with its fast-paced style of play over the years, but Saturday it was N.C. State that gave the Tar Heels a taste of their own medicine. The Wolfpack outscored UNC 20-0 in transition in the first half and 39-19 for the game while rolling up as much as a 28-point lead in its first win since 2007 against the rival Tar Heels.
4. Unmotivated State: N.C. State had beaten Wake Forest by 36 and 25 points in its two previous trips to Winston-Salem. This time, however, it stopped playing after going up by 16 late in the first half, allowing the Deacons to rally for a stunning upset win. After the game, freshman T.J. Warren caused a stir by re-Tweeting a disparaging a post from former teammate Thomas de Thaey about coach Mark Gottfried. The loss and the incident prompted State to hold a players-only meeting to address “the nonsense,” as point guard Lorenzo Brown put it.
Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Road proves bumpy in the ACC
Lack of experience
In Duke’s case, there’s a lack of exposure and experience. The Blue Devils started two seniors, two freshmen and one sophomore against the Hurricanes, who have five seniors and one junior among their top seven players. It makes sense that Miami is 6-1 on the road and ranks behind only two 3-0 teams (Indiana, Memphis) in road winning percentage. The week began with 30 winless road teams, ranging from Duke at 0-2 to Lamar at 0-14.
UNC, unlike N.C. State, can cite youth as one reason for struggling on the road. Five sophomores and four freshmen played Saturday against the Wolfpack, which built a 28-point lead behind a rotation of four upperclassmen and two freshmen.
“To me it’s poise, it’s focus and it’s confidence,” Williams said. “It’s hard to get that, but I’ve preached it for 25 years, and we’ve got a great record on the road in the Big Eight and the Big 12. So far, I haven’t done a very good job of getting this year’s club to handle that, and yet we are probably the youngest club I’ve ever coached, or the least experienced that I’ve ever coached.”
That makes N.C. State’s loss at Wake all the more mind-boggling. With two seniors and two juniors in the starting lineup, the Wolfpack has the most useful experience in the league behind Miami.
N.C. State did pull out a close victory at Boston College, and the timing of the Maryland setback, coming four days after the Duke win, was more regrettable than the effort put forth. But losing a 16-point lead in Winston-Salem and giving up 51 second-half points was inexcusable for a veteran team with lofty goals.
That result, coupled with the feel-good triumph over the Tar Heels, puts increased pressure on the Wolfpack to perform well and collect a win at Virginia.
“We’ve got a monster-type game against a really good opponent on the road,” Gottfried said, “so there’s not much time to bask in the glory for any of us in this league.”
Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Maybe we should have believed the Miami hype?
1. Miami (15-3, 6-0)
Last week: 3
My take: The thing that makes Miami’s conference record all the more impressive is that the Hurricanes have won three road games and held serve at home against teams from the league’s upper half, including then No. 1 Duke. Should the Hurricanes win at N.C. State on Saturday, their already prime position gets even more secure.
2. Duke (17-2, 4-2)
Last week: 1
My take: By drubbing Maryland on Saturday, the Blue Devils put some distance between themselves and the beating they took Wednesday night at Miami. With winnable road games this week at Wake Forest and Florida State, the Blue Devils could push it further into the rear view and turn the focus to their rematch with N.C. State on Feb. 7.
3. N.C. State (15-3, 5-2)
Last week: 2
My take: You can say what you will about the Wolfpack, but appreciate the fact that it’s never dull in Raleigh.
Tuesday night, N.C. State heads to Virginia. After that, Miami comes to town. So, if – and it’s a serious if – N.C. State can beat the Cavaliers, PNC Arena will see the third Saturday in four weeks in which it’s home to a game that will define the trajectory of the league title race. If you picked up season tickets for N.C. State hoops this season, you’ve already got your money’s worth and we’re not even out of January.
4. North Carolina (13-6, 3-3)
Last week: 4
My take: If there’s one buzzword for the ACC this season it’s got to be “urgency.”
The Tar Heels blamed a lack of it for their slow start in a loss to N.C. State on Saturday. They credited a return of it for their second-half rally. Throughout their rocky non-conference slate, nights where there wasn’t enough of the stuff led to worrisome losses or lackluster wins. Rushes of it against UNLV and at Florida State led to encouraging wins.
And this search for and celebration of urgency is not confined to Chapel Hill. Whether it’s N.C. State after losing at Wake Forest after or Duke losing at Miami, the stuff gets name-checked everywhere.
5. Virginia (14-5, 4-2)
Last week: 6
My take: Quietly, Virginia has won three in a row. Things won’t be quiet any more if that string gets pushed to four in a row as N.C. State visits Charlottesville on Tuesday night.
Andrew Jones (FoxSportsCarolinas.com)
ACC Power Rankings: Miami takes top spot
1. Miami (15-3, 6-0)
Last week may have been the best week in the history of Miami’s program. The Hurricanes beat No. 1 Duke by 27 points and arch rival Florida State by 24 and are 6-0 in conference play for the first time in any league the school has played in ever.
2. NC State (16-4, 5-2)
From one extreme to the other, the Wolfpack blew a big lead and lost to a bad Wake Forest team before opening up a 28-point lead on UNC, helped by a 20-2 first-half run, in beating the Tar Heels. NC State had 39 fast-break points on the night. Now the Wolfpack must back it up by playing well.
3. Duke (17-2, 4-2)
Moving forward, the Blue Devils should only be judged on what they achieve without Ryan Kelly, who may not return until the postseason. Last week, Duke was demolished at Miami by 27 points and then pounded Maryland by 20. Duke ran a lot of new offensive sets versus the Terps, and it has fully moved on and is building to its new approach.
4. North Carolina (13-6, 3-3)
An impressive home win over Georgia Tech preceded a strange loss at NC State. UNC was down by 28 points with 13 minutes left and cut it to five before losing by nine. North Carolina showed its many warts and some of its strengths in those stretches. But the Heels were mostly out-everythinged by the Wolfpack.
5. Virginia (14-5, 4-2)
Quietly, the Cavaliers are making a move in the ACC and playing their way into NCAA Tournament consideration. The Wahoos finally notched a league road win at Virginia Tech and then handled Boston College at home. They have won three in a row, and with NC State coming in this week, opportunity abounds.
Weekly Mark Gottfried TV Show
In this week’s episode head men’s basketball coach Mark Gottfried breaks down the UNC and Wake Forest games with host Tony Haynes. Also on the show, Mark Thomas visits with redshirt junior center Jordan Vendenberg.
Video: Katz previews top matchups
Andy Katz looks ahead to Kentucky at Ole Miss, Michigan at Indiana, Pittsburgh at Louisville, Syracuse at Pittsburgh, and NC State at Virginia.