"Fresh off of hosting the Super Bowl, the town of Miami will be similarly electrified by a men's college basketball game on Wednesday between their home town Hurricanes and the top 25 powerhouse NC State Wolfpack. The Watsco Center will be packed to the gills to see a late season match up between two teams expected to make deep NC State tournament runs. You'd have better had your tickets early for this one..........."
Hyperbole much? In reality this game features two teams racing to the bottom of the ACC standings, and will be played in front of an empty stadium. For anyone who is impartial and actually cares about this game, the biggest question is which team is coming in with less momentum.
- Enters the game 11-10 overall and 3-8 in the ACC.
- Losers of 7 out of their last 9 in ACC play.
- A lot of these losses were ugly. They've lost by 33 and 30 against Duke, 16 against Lousville, 17 against NC State and 23 against Carolina.
- In conference games only, Miami is 14th (out of 15) in defensive efficiency and 11th or higher in every measurable defensive stat outside of foul rate (they give up the fewest free throws in the league).
- In conference games only, Miami is 13th in offensive efficiency. They're near the bottom in every stat other than team free throw shooting, where they lead the conference at 77.8%.
- Miami is currently 103rd in the NCAA's NET ranking, 114th in KenPom, yet oddly 56th in the NCAA's old metric (the RPI).
- Miami's two best players -- Lykes and McGusty have been out recently with injuries. They basically have 6 players.
- Enters the game 14-8 (5-6).
- Losers of 3 in a row including two to bad teams -- GT and UNC.
- It is not just that State is losing, but how. The team has looked lost for large portions of the game, and has had well documented break downs on offense and defense. What's worse is that the team is seemingly struggling with unity, chemistry and we've seen multiple public interviews suggesting the players are checked out.
- Oh yeah, the team's been injured most of the year. It looks like that is catching up mentally and physically.
- For the second year in a row, NC State's offense has fallen off of a cliff (statistically) once conference play started. What once was a top 10 offense nationally is only the 9th ranked one within games played inside the ACC. State is in the bottom half in effective FG%, offensive rebounding percentage, free throw rates, and 2 and 3 point shooting percentages. The numbers show what my eyes have been seeing for the better part of 2 years. When the pace slows down or the talent level evens out, our offense is offensive. The lone bright spot is that State doesn't turn it over much (2nd in the conference), but when you go down and fire up a 3 pointer within the first 10 seconds of a possession and don't secure the rebound, it's pretty much the same thing.
- NC State's defense is what it is. The Pack is 10th overall in conference play, is dead last in the opposition's free throw rate (i.e. we foul a lot). The lone bright spots are upper third results in steals and blocks.
- NC State is 69th in NET, 73rd in KenPom and 72nd in RPI. The numbers are pretty consistent and they're of a Wolfpack team that has played its way out of the tournament.
And for those wondering, these stats are coming out of a very, very weak ACC. The league is currently 6th in the KenPom, and 6th in the RPI. This isn't murderer's row that Miami and NC State have struggled against. The bubble will pop against ACC teams this year.
Because I love the Pack, let's put up a game plan:
- The NCAA tournament dream is likely dead. Who cares about the NIT? Who on this team should really talk about either? How about we go and try to win a game and feel good about ourselves?
- This is a winnable game against a short handed team. The team needs to know that and be focused.
- State won the first game in large part because the Pack shot 45% from 3. Since then the Pack hasn't shot above 30% in a game. Think of this as a game between two entirely different teams. It won't resemble the first one for either team.
- We don't need a complicated scouting report that we either cannot remember or don't bother to read. This game isn't that hard.
- Miami cannot score, so do not foul them. Stay in front of them, but let them shoot.
- When State has the ball, be disciplined. Miami doesn't force turnovers and cannot afford to apply pressure due to their thin numbers. Work the ball around and look for a good shot after at least 3 passes.
- Miami cannot rebound (278th nationally offensively and a horrific 329th defensively). Crash the boards.
- Miami likes to take smaller players and send them inside. Neither of their big men average over 7 points a game. As a result, they get a ton of shots blocked (329th nationally). Manny Bates should have a big day if he can stay out of foul trouble.
KenPom thinks NC State wins by 1, and gives the Pack a 51% chance of winning. This game is a "pick em."
- Who wins?18 votes
NC State Wolfpack61.11%
- Will the Pack shoot over 30% from 3?18 votes
- Will we hear that "players weren't following the scouting report" after the game?18 votes