Tuesday, March 1, 2011

game preview: NC State

Date/Time: Tue., March 1; 7:00


History against the Pack: 55-79

Last matchup: UVA 59, NCSt. 47; 2/3/10; Charlottesville

Last game: BC 63, UVA 44 (2/26); NCSt. 79, GT 74 (2/26)

Opposing blogs: Riddick & Reynolds


National: UVA #120; NC State #78
Offense: UVA #175; NC State #52
Defense: UVA #88; NC State #147

Senior Night! And maybe the last realistic chance for a win this season. NC State is a watered-down version of Boston College - offense is a little worse, defense is a little better, but they're still skewed toward offense and their defense on the road has been abysmal. Because Maryland is such a likely loss (again, UVA matches up so badly against Maryland that I'm just calling that a loss right now), losing this game basically cements us into the ACC tourney's 10th seed. The likely 7 seed? Boston College. Win, and three teams - NC State, GT, and Wake - will be permanently stuck below us, meaning the 8 or 9 seed is our fate. In that case we'd probably play Miami and the only difference between 8 and 9 is the color of the uniforms. That's what's at stake. Neither is preferable to the other - BC is better than Miami but Duke awaits the winner of the 8/9 game.


- Shadow Scott Wood. Part of the problem with NC State's game is that without Wood there's no three-point shooting. They'll get more than their fair share of two-point shots because NC State is a tall team. Wood is a big guy, listed as a forward but truthfully a big guard. It probably won't be enough to sit behind the pack-line and defend him when he gets the ball; it's best if he doesn't get the ball at all.

- Shoot the lights out. This is the only way this is gonna happen. The three-point shooting can't just be decent, it has to be great. NC State has too many ways to clog the paint with 6'8" types that'll cause major issues for our donut team trying to score inside. Offensive rebounds won't happen, because you know Tony Bennett sends his guys backpedaling the moment the shot goes up and there're too many forwards on NC State to make it work anyway. The first shot has to go in.


- Troubles on the defensive boards. This is what worries me. UVA is still the best defensive rebounding team in the conference, but NC State is a very good offensive-rebounding team and they enjoy that height advantage. The Pack rarely use their seven-footer, Jordan Vandenberg, and they rely very heavily on two-point shots, so Assane Sene will be absolutely vital. He must be in position to get defensive rebounds and limit NC State's tip-in chances.

- That damn press. By now everyone's seen the film. Getting beat by UVA? Easy three-step process. 1) Press. 2) Get turnovers. 3) Profit!! Fortunately, Sidney Lowe isn't one of the more observant coaches in the league, but even so, a blind man knows to press UVA. You don't even have to do a lot of work on the press or have superior athletes running it. You just have to be in the right place and let UVA make horrible decisions.


Here's what worries me: NC State is a bad defensive team, and the reason for that has largely been their inability to get turnovers and inability to rebound on the defensive end. UVA will purposely give up the offensive rebound and a poodle could create turnovers against us if it simply employed a three-quarters press. So we don't have much ability to attack their defensive weaknesses.

But NC State's reliance on two-pointers means that even with a size advantage, the pack-line defense should be able to frustrate them at times. I don't think either team will shoot real well tonight. We might very well see a repeat of the Clemson game. In any case, this one should be close. Home court advantage is the best shot we have to see this one through. Call it a tossup.

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