(12) NC STATE vs (12) XAVIER Preview

Time: 9:10ish pm
Location: Dayton, OH
Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner and Kristine Leahy

Well Wolfpackers, we’re Dancing!! and we all know what that means…Survive and Advance. Our beloved Wolfpack were the very last team selected for the Big Dance and as such they are sent to Dayton, OH for the “First Round” match-up against the Xavier Musketeers, who just joined the NEW Big East this year. Xavier finished in a 3-way tie for third in the new Big East, along with Providence and St. Johns, and were the #3 seed where they lost in the semifinals to #2 Creighton 86-78.

For those that don’t know Xavier is located in Cincinnati, OH and is only 50 miles from Dayton where the games will be played. Needless to say this will be a home game of sorts for the Musketeers. Speaking of the Musketeers, did you know that while D’Artagnan, the Musketeer, is the university’s official mascot and is the origin of the school’s nickname, they have another mascot? The Blue Blob.

I want to see a mascot fight just for the pure entertainment of seeing this thing in action.

Let’s take a look at the teams

As you can see there’s not much difference between these 2 teams when it comes to their style of play (mostly man, moderate tempo) and four factors. On offense the Pack turns the ball over less where the Musketeers are able to get to the FT Line more and shoot the 3 better. On Defense the Pack holds their opponents to a lower FG% but the Musketeers are better at defensive rebounding (no shock there since everyone is better than the Pack) and they don’t send their opposition to the FT line as much.

Xavier: Center Matt Stainbrook strained his MCL 2 weeks ago during the Seton Hall loss. He didn’t play in the season finale loss to Villanova but did return to action in the Big East Tournament. Stainbrook didn’t start in the Musketeers win over Marquette, instead coming off the bench playing fewer minutes than his average game, he was only slightly below his normal efficiency and averages in the win. Stainbrook again came off the bench in Xavier’s loss to Creighton but this time played even fewer minutes and wasn’t as effective rebounding the ball while still being an offensive threat.


#1 Jalen Reynolds (6-9 222 FR) Forward – Normally Reynolds would be coming off the bench but with the injury to starting center Matt Stainbrook, he’s been pushed up to the starting line-up. Stainbrook may start but for now we are assuming it’s Reynolds. For a freshman who plays sparingly, Reynolds has some nice numbers: 112 ORtg; 56% Effective Field Goal Pct (eFG), 16% Offensive Rebounding Rate (OR), 19% Defensive Rebounding Rate (DR) but he is a fouling machine at 7.5 Fouls Called per 40 minutes.
#20 Justin Martin (6-6 205 JR) Forward – Martin puts up pretty good numbers: 55% eFG; 17% OR; 108 ORtg, but he has a tendency to turn the ball over, 19.5% TOrate. Martin has taken the most 3 pointers on the team and has the best average at 39%. Turner can’t afford to lose Martin on the court like he has a tendency to do on defense or it’ll cost the Pack.
#31 Isaiah Philmore (6-8 230 SR) Forward – Philmore is another good efficient player at 110 ORtg; 54% eFG; 10% OR, 14.4% DR but like Martin he has a problem holding onto the ball, 18% TORate. Philmore hasn’t made a 3 all year and can draw the foul so look for him under the basket, especially since he’s the Musketeers second leading Offensive Rebounder behind Stainbrook.
#0 Semaj Christon (6-3 190 SO) Guard – Christon is Xavier’s superstar, First Team All Big East player, and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he’s Lee’s responsibility on defense. Christon’s numbers don’t WOW you, at 107.5 ORtg; 50% eFG; 1.6% OR; 7.4% DR, those aren’t knock your socks off numbers. He does carry a 25.4% Assist Rate (AR) coupled with a 16% TORate and averages 17 PPG. He’ll shoot the occasional 3 pointer and make them a third of the time. He draws A LOT of fouls and shoots a lot of FT’s, so without ever seeing him play I’m guessing he likes to drive the ball to the rim and draw contact. It’ll be interesting to see how much the refs call the new contact rule in the tournament. Lee will have his hands full and will likely need weak side help.
#11 Dee Davis (6-0 161 JR) Guard – Davis is another starter with a decent ORtg of 109%; notice everyone on Xavier is close to 110% ORtg making them a very efficient team. Davis likes to take as many 3’s as 2’s and strangely enough has made the same for each. Davis is sporting a 27.5% AR (someone needs to with all these efficient shooters) but is crippled by a 23.3% TORate. Hipster Cat, PRESSURE HIM!!!!


#40 Matt Stainbrook (6-10 263 JR), #2 James Farr (6-9 237 SO), #15 Myles Davis (6-2 195 FR), #3 Brandon Randolph.

As much as Christon gets talked about Stainbrook, IMO, is the real MVP and will be the X-Factor in the game for Xavier. If he’s healthy and playing near 100% then I think the Pack will be in trouble. Stainbrook sports a 112% ORtg; 55.5% eFG; 12% OR; 24% DR; 20% AR; 4.6% Blocking Rate and a 19.2% TORate. Farr and Davis bring quality play off the bench (and a legendary Jazz sound), with Farr being more of the scorer between the two but Davis is a 3pt threat.

Who has the Advantage?

It’s a stalemate folks. The Pack will score some and the Mouseketeers will prevent some. So let’s say the Pack ends up with an eFG of 50%.

Yeesh. Four facepalms out of Six categories, hard to overcome even with the hipster cat. Seriously, Xavier’s offense isn’t awe inspiring but the Pack’s defense can make even Miami’s offense look like National Champs, so expect them to score easier than they have all season. Also, start placing bets on who the “unknown player with the career game” is going to be; my money is on Davis.

KenPom likes Xavier by 4 points.
Sagarin likes Xavier by 7 points. (4 if you take away home court adv)
Vegas opened with Xavier -1 points and is now sitting at -2.5.

Looking over it all the Pack should lose and for the same reason they’ve lost games all season:
(1) No defensive rebounding vs a team good at offensive rebounding.
(2) They don’t create fast break opportunities from forcing turnovers or defensive rebounding.
(3) Little help for Buckets.
(4) Inability to stretch the defense due to the lack of a 3PT shot.

The Pack is the same team we’ve seen all season, that hasn’t changed. Xavier isn’t a top 4 seed so they are beatable and the Pack has something Xavier doesn’t…TJ Warren. The question is will the Pack overcome their usual problems enough to Survive and Advance. I’ll continue with my “it’s only weird if it doesn’t work” meme and say the Pack should keep it close but once again defensive rebounding and Warren having to do all the scoring will be their undoing.

Xavier by 5.


Ryan Tice (TheWolfpacker.com)
First Look: Xavier

Bret Strelow (FayObserver.com)
Wolfpack looking to make most of surprise First Four meeting with Xavier

Stephen Schramm (FayObserver.com)
NCAA tournament preview: N.C. State

Jeff Borzello (CBSSports.com)
Viewer’s Guide: The First Four gets started

No. 12 North Carolina State vs. No. 12 Xavier (9:10 p.m., truTV): Both were bubble teams entering Selection Sunday, although Xavier felt far more confident than NC State. The Musketeers were hoping to avoid the First Four, while the Wolfpack were just hoping to get in. Well, NC State got a bid, but Xavier is playing in Dayton. The winner moves on to play Saint Louis — a winnable game for both. NC State is led by T.J. Warren, one of the best pure scorers in college basketball. He is capable of carrying the offense, as demonstrated by back-to-back 40-point games late in the season. Warren will need help from complementary options to beat Xavier, though. The Musketeers have a number of different weapons on the offensive end, with playmaker Semaj Christon carrying the load. He’s difficult to contain off the bounce, and his ability to get into the lane opens up shots for his teammates. The key could be NC State keeping Xavier off the offensive glass, and the Musketeers slowing down Warren.

About 1.21 Jigawatts

Class of '98, Mechanical Engineer, State fan since arriving on campus and it's been a painful ride ever since. I live by the Law of NC State Fandom, "For every Elation there is an equal and opposite Frustration."

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Home Forums (12) NC STATE vs (12) XAVIER Preview

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    1.21 Jigawatts

    Time: 9:10ish pm Location: Dayton, OH TV: TruTV Announcers: Brian Anderson, Dan Bonner and Kristine Leahy Well Wolfpackers, we’re Dancing!! and we all[See the full post at: (12) NC STATE vs (12) XAVIER Preview]

    Alpha Wolf

    Analytically, The X by 5 makes perfect sense.

    On the other hand, there are intangibles in play, and I think that’s where the difference will come from, and that’s where I like the Wolfpack (without knowing two things about Xavier.)

    Why? Simple. The team learned a valuable lesson on Friday: that it can beat a top team, but that it has to be on board for the whole game. That lesson was reinforced Saturday in the first half against Duke, and in the second half, it was painfully reinforced when Raulston “Shoot First, Think Later” Turner couldn’t find the nets.

    I think it will be State by 5. Hell, why not, we’ve been living on a prayer for so long I may as well start being optimistic about this thing.

    1.21 Jigawatts

    I’ll make one caveat to my prediction that the outcome will be based on the level of play of Stainbrook. If Stainbrook is healthy, or healthy enough to be close to his old self, then I think Xavier prevails due to his ability to score and rebound on both ends of the court. If Stainbrook is still hampered by his injury then I think the Pack will be able to control the paint better and thus be victorious.

    I’m hoping Alpha is right about this team learning the lessons that have been hard this season, competing for 40 minutes and finishing games. I still see too many times when State players just have major brainfarts while out on the court and it results in mini-runs for the opposition.



    *If* we can get rebounds and force turnovers then fly out, I really like our chances. Same thing against St. Louis, should we make it to that game.

    Pace and tone will be important. I’d love to see us set a tone early and maintain it throughout – it’s been a huge shortcoming for this particular team. Lessons learned, hopefully. No matter what, no skittish-ness … we have nothing to lose. Go out there and play.

    1.21 Jigawatts

    *If* we can get rebounds and force turnovers then fly out, I really like our chances. Same thing against St. Louis, should we make it to that game.

    I agree that if this team would do those 2 things then they’d be much better then they are. Here’s the big problem, it’s not like this team can’t do them because we’ve all seen it happen at times during the game but it’s like this team, including the coaching staff, hasn’t made that simple connection. So I’m not expecting things to change overnight. We are what we are and unfortunately those 2 things aren’t them.

    Of course the other part of the equation is a lot of teams know this and they game plan by getting back on transition defense to prevent the Pack from pushing the ball. The Pack doesn’t appear to have good defensive fundamentals, thus a lot of reaching in and drawing fouls, and there is a failure to get defensive rebounding as well. Add those 2 things to teams dropping back to prevent transition offense and it’s not a formula for up-tempo play.


    Win or lose I am extremely proud of this team. Boy are they fun to watch, and you can tell they care for one another. At least we have a chance. That’s all any of us could have asked coming in.


    Xavier by 5?! Please… we win by at least 8. It would be interesting to see this same analysis over just the last 5 games when State emerged from the UNC and SU regular season jobs.


    We have the worst efficiency d of any team from a power conference in the tourney….oddly enough if we advance, we play the team with the worst efficiency offense.

    I don’t know how Gottfried does it, but he has managed to make the tourney 3 years in a row with very mediocre defenses. This is also why I don’t see us getting much farther than bubble status unless we learn how to rebound and play d.


    I am thankful that State got in the tournament. Survive and Advance has always been a fine mantra but what would I not give to see our team take Xavier by the throat and mop the floor with them. When is the last time State beat a very good team from start to finish and by a wide margin without any hotdogging slide back. I enjoyed our victories over Duke and UNC last year but the single digit final margins were not reflective of how we had control of those games. I know State belongs in the field but I want every March Madness viewer to know it as well. Destroy and Advance. Mental and Physical toughness for 40 minutes. I apologize for the caffeine induced rant. I want to see more victorious reaction videos for a deserving group of kids. Go Pack!!


    This definitely is a Hipster Cat kind of game, where a 6’3″ guard is X’s biggest weapon, by far. Hipster Cat needs to be tasked with shutting him down, and we win. I hope that means more dual PG minutes, especially if Des isn’t feeling it.


    We have the worst efficiency d of any team from a power conference in the tourney

    Glad to know my eyes have not been lying to me. We are so very bad on that end of the floor. Really amazing what Gott has been able to do. And I mean that out of the utmost respect.

    With that said, it is time for this staff to hit some clinics. We HAVE to get better there. It is an absolute must.


    We may go as far as Cat and Des’ defensive efforts take us …


    I predict the gametime will be a crapfest – at least here. Doing the cleanse for a colonoscopy scheduled for tomorrow. So I might end up watching or listening from the throne. As to the game itself the team has shown they can rebound and they can play top notch defense at times. I’m betting those happen tonight.

    This team has been fun to watch – sometimes frustrating for sure but always interesting.


    The only thing I fear about this game is that we come in too amped up and let them get way out ahead of us. I think KW is prone to line drive his shots, especially his baby hook, when he’s excited. RT put everyone’s mammoth expectations on himself after his 22 point breakout game and I think that pressure resulted in less than par offensive performances in the next two games primarily due to poor shot selection. TJ’s questionable decision making on defense (reach ins) surfaces when he’s out of his grove. Anyway, Gott’s challenge is to season the mental soup just right.

    Having said that, I expect this team to win this game and the next and create a winnable situation late in the Louisville game (by the way, does anyone know when that might tip on Saturday?).

    Here are some very clear differences between this team and the 2013 edition going into the NCAAT:

    1) No drama on this team
    2) Manageable egos on this team
    3) A consistent, reliable, superstar, end of game closer
    4) BIGS
    5) Supporting cast, bench
    6) Confidence
    7) Unity
    8) Joy…all the difference in the world when one is happy

    2013, with all their individual talent was a mental hot mess no matter what combination Gott tried. We are a TOTALLY different team this year and we come in to this NCAAT seeing it as an opportunity not a right. We are very motivated to win….and we will. And, IMHO, there is no team in the tourney we can’t beat.


    What makes us both interesting and vulnerable is that we have such wildly divergent pieces. For instance, we have two VERY different lineups:

    OFFENSE: WBS, BSW, Buckets, KW, Vandy

    DEFENSE: Hipster Cat, Des, Buckets, Le Nard, KH

    Within that, you have several tiers of defensive ability:

    VERY GOOD: Hipster Cat, Buckets



    AVERT THINE EYES: WBS, BSW, Vandy (though Vandy has shown signs of upgrading to KW’s tier of late).

    But some of those in the ATE tier have valuable and unique strengths. WBS is as good as it gets as an offensive PG against zone defenses (or triangle and two), especially now that he is looking for and taking his 3-point shot. BSW can go all Black Scott Wood at any moment, which gives us a much needed second scorer and permiter threat so that 3 guys can’t collapse on Buckets (a simple double-team is barely an annoyance to him). And Vandy has around the rim skill, which he unleashed as never before during the ACCT. When he’s on and confident that way, he gives you 8-10 unguardable points – and again, softens up the D for Buckets.

    On the flip side, some of the defensive guys have also been diverging their skill sets of late. Hipster Cat has started to be assertive in the open court again, and shown good midrange ability against press man defense (first half against Duke). Le Nard provided much needed “blue collar” offense in the ACCT, and started looking better at the FT line. You never know what you’re gonna get from Des offensively, but his good games have been REALLY GOOD. Plus, who hasn’t fallen in love with the HippoHOOK?

    Speaking of which, I was at lunch with some UNC work friends yesterday. The one that’s my firm’s unofficial ACC historian and font of all knowledge, was talking about Anya, and said (totally unaware of the SFN memes) “You know who Anya reminds me of? King Hippo from Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!”

    This was perhaps the happiest moment of my life.


    ‘Having said that, I expect this team to win this game and the next and create a winnable situation late in the Louisville game’ What? No love for my Jaspers? (I went Undergrad to Manhattan and Grad at State. A 12/13 game between the 2 of them would make my head implode…)


    What makes us both interesting and vulnerable is that we have such wildly divergent pieces. For instance, we have two VERY different lineups:

    Unfortunately they’re basically mutually exclusive. We have to decide if we want to trade offense for defense or vice versa. It might depend on which BSW shows up. If it’s 5-8 BSW, then offense. If it’s 2-10 BSW, defense.


    It might depend on which BSW shows up. If it’s 5-8 BSW, then offense. If it’s 2-10 BSW, defense.

    ^It needs to be figured out quickly, too. I’m not saying abandon anyone to the bench, but we can’t afford to fall behind by 10+ points while sticking with something that is not working.

    I believe in Ralston … we’ll see what happens. It would thrill me to no end to see Cat continue to bust out of his offensive shell and really run the offense and set up some huge Ralston threes … wishful thinking and all.


    This song sucks, I admit. But dammit, we’re back!


    Win or lose I am extremely proud of this team. Boy are they fun to watch, and you can tell they care for one another. At least we have a chance. That’s all any of us could have asked coming in.

    While this has been a frustrating year at times it is not because of squandered talent.


    BSW needs to go RTO or he needs to sit the bench.
    I want to see this team play some more games.


    I am 100% content and at peace no matter what happens. Fun team, and I like all 9 guys who play. Most of them, quite a lot (looking at you, KH).


    I think we might need to take a little off … when it comes to Turner….

    yeah.. when we really needed is shot in the second half against Dook… it wasn’t there…

    We had been one of the top ranked “inside scoring” as a percentage of total points teams in the country all season…

    It’s one thing to get a three pointer when the shooter is hot… it’s a whole other deal to get one when you have to have one… especially when that has not been your modus operandi all season.

    Dez, whose was MIA for most the ACC Tournament, is more problematical that Turner missing threes….
    and the fair question remains unasked and unanswered… with Dook in total Lockdown mode on CUZ… why didn’t the ball go in the paint during that critical 2-1/2 minutes.

    That’s all ancient history now and we GOTT a game to win tonight… but herein lies the keys to tonight’s game…

    Three guys in double figures…
    70%-75% free throw shooting or better…
    Even or close to even in Rebounds
    Less than 10 turnovers…
    Forty minutes of good, solid, not great defense…

    Who’s going to be the one or two surprises for us — other than CUZ ??
    They will determine the outcome of the game for us.

    Perhaps the best news is that it could be any one or two out of EIGHT guys… and that makes it real tough on the opposing Coach.

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!

    Good point, Bill. The “any 1 or 2 of EIGHT” factor IS quite difficult to prepare/gameplan for.


    thanks… beej…
    …when I wrote that I was really thinking about the past couple of seasons when some people said we had no bench and that Coach GOTT would never play more than seven guys…

    Has anybody GOTT any ideas as to who the Zebras might be tonight???

    … and on that topic… what happened to the nice polite discussion(topic) about our friends Luckie and Coach K… it seems to have been abducted by aliens…

    #NCSU-North Carolina's #1 FOOTBALL school!
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