This Saturday, NC State gets a second shot at Clemson, but this time in the friendly confines of the ESA. The Tigers are 9-7 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. NC State enters the game at 12-5 (3-3).
Two weeks ago to the day, NC State took a trip south to Little John, where it played awful without CJ Bryce en route to an 81-70 loss. In that game, NC State shot 5-21 from three (24%), got out rebounded, out assisted, out smarted and generally out hustled.
The game within the game though was that NC State fouled a ridiculous 22 times. Bates and Boots ended with four fouls each, and everyone else who played in the game for the Pack (outside of Andre) ended with three. Clemson took advantage and made 26-31 free throws. NC State shot 13-19 on 16 Clemson fouls. The margin of victory was 11 and it largely happened at the line. The fouling came early and often, and it seemed like Clemson spent the entire game shooting free throws.
After the loss many NC State fans (including on this site) were howling. It was a bad loss to a team that was 6-7 and coming off back to back losses to Yale and Miami.
While NC State still should feel like it lost a winnable game, the loss isn't quite as bad as it previously seemed. Since the ambush, Clemson has followed that up by breaking their dubious streak in Chapel Hill (which I'd always thought was one of the real oddities in US sports) and backing that up with a home win against Duke (in what for NC State would have clearly been a hangover game). Clemson's still 74th in the NCAA's NET rankings, 76th in KenPom and 86th in RPI, but the last two weeks have been quite good to them.
In the same time, NC State has had a bit of up and down. We've gone L (Clemson), W (ND), L (VT), W (Miami) in BJD parlance. The good news is that Bryce has returned to the line up, and DJ has been on a bit of a tear (with at least 14 points in every game).
With respect to Clemson, watch for the 3 headed monster of Tevin Mack (6-6 Sr.), Aamir Simms (6-8 Jr.) and John Newman (6-5 So.). They went for 17, 20 and 17 points (shooting a combined 53%) and pulled down 18 boards in Chapel Hill. Against Duke they had 22, 25 and 14 points (on a scorching 69% shooting) and a grabbed 21 rebounds (almost out rebounding Duke by themselves). The trio is coming in hot.
NC State is currently bubblicious for the big dance. The Pack is 45th in the NET, 63rd in the RPI and 43rd at KenPom. It cannot afford a home loss to a Q3 team (as it already has one to GT).
KenPom likes NC State by 7 and gives the Pack a 72% chance of winning.
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NC State Wolfpack76.19%
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