N.C. State (7-1) vs. Charleston So. (5-2) – 7pm @ William Neal Reynolds Coliseum (how many of you read that in C.A. Dillon’s voice? 🙂 )
Tv: Fox Sports South/Regional (646 on Direct / Channel 40 on Time Warner – thanks ‘Fastback68’! ); Espn3 – subject to blackout
The Wolfpack come into this game against after some (probably needed) off time and a relatively tough previous week of games. Last week saw multiple ‘firsts’ for this season’s edition of the Pack – their first road contest, their first loss, and their first conference game. While the road loss was far from smooth, the Pack hung around all night in spite of seemingly fighting uphill and had opportunities late. Purdue was certainly a beatable opponent, but the outcome was not disastrous by any stretch (remember, at this time last season we had lost a home game to NCCU). N.C. State showed similar grit in the conference opener against Wake Forest: starting slow and battling foul trouble but clamping down on D in stretches and pulling away from the Deacons in the 2nd half in an often ugly, whistle-marred game.
Tonight’s opponent – the Buccaneers – will likely not offer any let down in the level of competition. Charleston Southern comes in sporting a season opening win at Ole Miss, and will likely be a contender for the Big South championship. Many college basketball fans are now cognizant that the days of ‘easy’ wins over mid-majors – and often, low-majors – are pretty much a thing of the past. The reasoning for this is multi-layered, and perhaps we can discuss this in a separate entry – but team wins are now often decided due to quality depth – and of course, coaching. That said, there aren’t but so many starting fives in Division 1 college basketball now that are so stunningly talent deficient that basically allow one to rule a game as being over before it even starts (the teams at the very top have superior talent, of course – but that doesn’t mean other teams are devoid of good talent).
This season alone has seen some pretty interesting results across college basketball. Highlighting the Big South alone, the conference boasts victories over Ole Miss (Charleston So.), Virginia Tech (Radford), Auburn (Coastal Carolina – Cliff Ellis!), and poor Clemson twice (Gardner-Webb and Winthrop). Those defeats may be over middle-of-the-pack or lower finishers in their leagues, but they’re still defeats over power conference teams. The landscape has continued its shift, so to speak.
The bottom line for tonight’s contest between the Pack and the Buccaneers is that it continues N.C. State’s very smart and strategic scheduling under Mark Gottfried. Every contest has a purpose, and the schedule is always constructed with an eye on giving the Pack every opportunity to earn a bid into the NCAA Tournament (for context, cbssports currently has N.C. State at 36 in the RPI). Charleston Southern is a solid mid-major, and a win helps to maintain a solid RPI and a loss doesn’t destroy the RPI.
N.C. State and Charleston So. have faced no common opponents; the Buccaneers did however lose at Florida State earlier.
Charleston Southern has competed in one NCAA Tournament, losing in the first round (proper) in 1997 to UCLA.
Please leave your thoughts here, enjoy the game, and Go Pack!