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FSU at NCST preview and game thread

For only the 2nd time in the past five games FSU will face an opponent whose strategy won't include milking every precious second from the shot clock. Mark Gottfried's Wolfpack run the 3rd most uptempo offense in the ACC (FSU is 4th), which is surprising as his most successful teams at Alabama were among the nation's slowest. Regardless, tempo won't be an issue, as NC State has the athletes (though not the depth) to compete with FSU.

FSU (18-7, 9-2) enters tied atop the ACC with North Carolina and Duke. NC State (18-8, 7-4) is in 4th. But the Wolfpack have played the easiest schedule. Only one of NC State's ACC wins came against a team with a winning conference record. They were blown out by North Carolina, lost by one at home to Virginia, and blew a 20 point 2nd half lead at Duke. Still, they're a well balanced team, and have the 4th best offense and 4th best defense in ACC competition.

NC State has an interesting starting lineup with all five starters between 6'5 and 6'8. And they all score in double figures. It starts with junior Scott Wood who might be the best spot-up shooter in the ACC. He leads the team at 13.2 points per game and has the highest offensive rating in the conference. 5* CJ Leslie has improved his effort a bit as a sophomore, and is most likely to take over a game as well as the most likely to disappear. He's been struggling shooting the ball and hasn't made more than half his shots in any of the past 7 games. They have a tremendous guard duo in Lorenzo Brown and CJ Williams. Brown averages 12 points and 6.6 assists, though he can be a bit turnover prone, and Williams is the classic tweaner at the college level, a big 2-guard who scores mostly from inside the arc. Finally, Richard Howell - my preseason pick for breakout player of the year in the ACC - has been solid, but not great. He's averaging 11.3 points and 9.2 rebounds but commits too many fouls and isn't conditioned to play 30+ minutes a game.

Defensively, Mark Gottfried goes mostly man, and they struggle turning teams over (250th) and defending the three (200th). Otherwise, they're a decent defense that is well rounded and has good size.

The game tips from the RBC Center at 1 pm, a venue where FSU hasn't lost since February, 2006. The game is broadcast on the ACC Network and on ESPN3. Vegas has NCST -1.5, and Pomeroy has the Wolfpack -1.