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We're past the "early season and we still have lots of hope" phase in men's basketball. Another site refers to "June" to describe exuberant preseason optimism in football, but I'm starting to see the same (at least with me) with men's basketball. So far for KK led NC State squads there are two seasons -- destroy the cupcakes and then come back to .500 against good teams.
Then there's UNC home or away and at Duke. After year one in which KK looked like he might finally break NC State's losing ways against the blues, NC State's talent level (and success against those two teams) has regressed. The games have since played out to script (if you're Swofford, Nike, ESPN, ACC officials looking for tendencies, etc.) with the occasional home win against Duke to keep things slightly interesting.
UNC has more talent and just beat (an albeit off) Kentucky. If you've not seen UNC, they look horrible one night (Iowa or Texas) yet still have most favored nation status. They ooze height, recruiting stars and athleticism and if they can't get it done, there's 3 extra team members in black and white stripes just waiting to help.
State has missed 2-3 weeks of games due to COVID19 protocol and has been playing without Hayes, Fundy and a full roster the last two games. In those games the Pack looked like it hadn't touched a basketball for much of 3 halves in a loss to St. Louis and a "we waited until the second half to show up" game against Campbell. If someone watched the Pack's shot selection, rebounding, offensive half court sets or seeming regression in conditioning, you'd think the whole team had had COVID19. And maybe they have?
I want to write a pre-game with an X, Y, Z plan to victory and rainbows and unicorns, but am struggling to. If State's without Fundy and Hayes, I don't feel good about what transpires Tuesday night, even at "home." Even with them back, how effective will they be without having played, and how much can Pack fans even expect out of Hayes in his first game against a decent team?
There is ONE thing that is clearly playing to the Pack's advantage this year against UNC and Duke. I firmly believe that the vibe around campus just before the UNC (and Duke) games negatively impacts the team. In most games the team is overly tight, gets down early and the zebras paired with a hostile away crowd finishes them off. Given the Pack is basically in a bubble and there's not the normal on campus hype cycle, maybe the team can treat it like "just another game" and just come out and play?
Even if that happens, I just see too many question marks for State in this one. Roy will have his gang playing their best game of the young season and KK will just be trying to figure out his rotation. Take the Holes with the points and if you watch, put the announcers on mute.