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It looks like NC State has picked up a game Thursday night against St. Louis. Who knows if the game even gets played, much less whether it will be televised?
St. Louis is coached by former Oklahoma State head man Travis Ford. If you remember Ford's Oklahoma State teams, it is mostly for the beatdown that freshman Marcus Smart put on Gott's top 6 preseason squad. That was the game where our good friend Dan Dakich started trolling NC State and our fans bit in defense of Gott. Looks like Dakich got the last laugh on that one. Good times.
Otherwise, Ford's career has been remarkedly average relative to inputs (OSU had $$$). Is it good that OSU made the tournament 5 out of 8 years, or is it bad that they only won a tournament game once (and got upset as a 5 seed?). If you recall, Ford's last year at OSU, they finished with an overall losing record and were 3-15 in conference.
Ford's wearing the "builder" hat at St. Louis. They've gone from 6 to 9 to 10 to 12 wins in the A10 in the four years he has coached there.
The Billikens enter the game at 4-0 with a good win over Will Wade's L$U program and three blow outs against cream puffs. They've got a top 20 offense and a top 35 defense nationally in efficiency. If this were the case at the end of the year, it'd be the type of squad that you'd look for as one of your sleepers. Right now, it's a little early.
There are four things that jump off the stat sheet when you look at St. Louis:
St. Louis is led by 4 players who all play over 60% of the team's minutes:
NC State has a clear advantage inside. St. Louis only has 3 players on the roster that are 6 ft 7 or taller, and none of the big men are on the floor more than about 15 minutes a game.
This is your classic small ball team with senior guards who take care of the basketball, shoot the three, force turnovers while making clutch FTs at the line. It's a tough match up for the Pack if St. Louis gets hot from the perimeter or NC State fouls a lot, particularly given NC State's layoff.