Beginning with the 2nd half at Miami, Florida State has been completely dominant. Now fans are wondering if the Seminoles (20-4, 8-3) have turned some kind of corner, or if they just happened to have a good week. To help answer that question, NC State (14-10, 3-8) comes to town, and the Wolfpack, frankly, are a weird team.
To start, NC State has Dennis Smith, who is the most dynamic player in the ACC. On top of Smith they have another 5* in Omer Yurtseven, and then five more top 70 recruits. That, on paper, makes them one of the 15 or so most talented teams in the nation. But games aren’t played on paper. They’re played on a 94-foot court. And NC State’s results have been head scratching.
Their out-of-conference schedule appears to have been crafted by someone who wanted to keep them out of the NCAA Tournament. They played one good team (Creighton) and lost. They lost a game at Illinois which wasn’t really close. They needed OT, at home, to beat a middle tier Ohio Valley team.
In ACC play they’ve spread their eight losses liberally: from UNC on one end to Boston College on the other.
Then they beat Duke in Cameron.
With as much talent as they have they’re inevitably a good offensive team. The problem is on the other end of the floor. A typical NC State defensive possession looks like five guys impatiently waiting to play with the ball again on offense.
They don’t force turnovers. They’re a bad defensive rebounding team. And they give up wide open looks. Their defense is an appalling 214th nationally, and in conference-only games they’re 14th of 15 ACC teams.
Their offense, however, at least gives them a chance. Dennis Smith, Jr. (19.2 ppg, 39% 3-pt shooter) is pretty much unguardable one-on-one. As soon as he makes his move you have to send help. He’s already had two triple-doubles in ACC play, which is something that no ACC player in history had done before him. The 6-3 freshman has had four 30+ point games, and three times recorded 13 or more assists. He takes games over, and how well FSU defends him will likely decide the outcome.
Terry Henderson, a West Virginia transfer, scores 14.6 per game and knocks down 41% of his 3s. Maverik Rowan also makes 41% of his 3s, and scores 12.5 per game. Abdul-Malik Abu is a beefed up version of Phil Cofer, and averages 12.0 points and 7.3 rebounds. Charlotte transfer Torin Dorn is yet another 41% 3-point shooter, and he averages just over 10 points per game.
They’ll need a couple of players to get really hot from three to pull off the upset.
The game tips at 7 PM from the Tuck and will be broadcast on ESPN2. FSU opened as a 14-point favorite.