Friday, January 27, 2012

game preview: NC State

Date/Time: Saturday, January 28; 8:00


Record against the Pack: 57-80

Last matchup: UVA 69, NCSt. 58; 3/1/11; Charlottesville

Last game: UVA 66, BC 49 (1/26); UNC 74, NCSt. 55 (1/26)

Opposing blogs: Riddick & Reynolds, State Fans Nation, Backing the Pack

KenPom breakdown:

UVA: 60.2 (#340)
NCSt.: 69.5 (#50)

UVA: 104.7 (#101)
NCSt.: 109.6 (#51)

UVA: 84.5 (#4)
NCSt.: 96.2 (#94)

Pythagorean win%:
UVA: .9002 (#20)
NCSt.: .7913 (#58)

Common opponents:

Georgia Tech: UVA won, 70-38; NCSt. lost, 82-71
Boston College: UVA won, 66-49; NCSt. won, 76-62
Miami: UVA won, 52-51; NCSt. won, 78-73

Projected starting lineups:


PG: Jontel Evans (6.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.6 apg)
SG: Sammy Zeglinski (8.9 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.6 apg)
SF: Joe Harris (12.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: Mike Scott (16.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.6 apg)
F: Akil Mitchell (3.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)

North Carolina State:

PG: Lorenzo Brown (12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.9 apg)
SG: C.J. Williams (11.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 apg)
SF: Scott Wood (13.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.6 apg)
PF: C.J. Leslie (12.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 apg)
F: Richard Howell (11.7 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 apg)

I want you all to know how lucky you've been this month, and will continue to be.  Every minute spent writing and blogging and such is a minute not spent playing Skyward Sword.  This is the kind of sacrifice I make for my readers.  It is not a trifling one.  You're welcome.

-- UVA on offense

If you watched last night's game, then you're now well-educated on what needs to happen for UVA's offense to get rolling: Sammy Zeglinski hitting shots.  The difference between Brick Sammy and Splash Sammy is the difference between playing Boston College tight and being unable to shake free, and rolling them with extreme prejudice on a 22-5 run.  It matters little what type of defense other teams run, they will alter it to make sure Mike Scott is double and triple(!!)-teamed when he touches the ball.  (And he scores on triple teams, sometimes.)

NC State's defense is decent but not outstanding, their numbers hurt by a susceptibility to three-pointers.  You know the story there: it doesn't do any good if you can't hit the open ones.  C.J. Leslie has a seven-foot-plus wingspan and thus is likely to draw the primary Mike Scott assignment, but he'll likely have help.  Leslie is a very good shotblocker; Jontel Evans has wisely taken to driving the lane more often lately, so he'll have to keep a weather eye for Leslie's presence.  He'd be well-advised to look for a drive-and-dish if Leslie is in his way.  Additionally, point guard Lorenzo Brown averages two steals a game, something else Evans and whoever is running the point will have to be careful of.

Brown is a big guy for a point guard at 6'5", and the weird thing about the Pack lineup is that he's the smallest guy they run.  (He's also skinny - 186 pounds.)  Everyone in that starting lineup is between 6'5" and 6'8".  NC State's seven-man rotation also includes 6'9" DeShawn Painter and finally, 5'10" Alex Johnson, the only size outlier.  That kind of size could give Evans and Sammy some problems, and Malcolm Brogdon could see extra time.  On the flip side, there aren't any trees down low (other than perhaps the long-armed Leslie) and UVA should be able to find operating room in the frontcourt.

Regardless, though, it comes down to shooting.  Are we in a slump?  The perception is yes.  And that's the worst thing to try and analyze because nothing matters unless you can reliably hit a jump shot.  If the other team thinks you can't, and you don't, then matchups and everything else go out the window.  Winning this game would be a great way for everyone to forget there was ever a shooting issue.

-- UVA on defense

Schematically, this is an interesting match.  Mark Gottfried runs an offense that likes to back-door cut and plays at a high tempo.  UVA wants to slow down (duh) and probably doesn't mind if you back-door cut because that kind of thing relies on the defense being overaggressive on the edges.  UVA's defenders are happy to let you run around on the edges and are already there when you open the back door.

Lorenzo Brown is adept at running the show, with an A/T ratio of better than 2/1 and a whopping 37.5% assist rate.  (Meaning that three out of baskets scored while he's on the floor are assisted by him.)  That rate is pretty consistent with a guy who's tossing backdoor passes for easy layups.  Everyone gets in on the act - all five starters average between 11.5 and 13.5 points a game.

When NC State doesn't get the ball down low, they look for Scott Wood on the perimeter.  74% of his shots are three-point shots - higher, even, than Sammy's rate.  And he's hitting better than 44%.  That will be Joe Harris's assignment, and it's a tough one - Harris must do it without fouling, because Wood is a perfect 48-of-48 shooting free throws.  Except for C.J. Leslie, nobody in the Wolfies' seven-man rotation is worse than a 70% free-throw shooter.

Oh - and NC State also happens to be an excellent offensive-rebounding team.  About the only thing they don't do well is get to the line, and they can be a little cavalier with the ball - the Pack are slightly below average nationally in both categories.  But this is a tough matchup in general - a good test for our defense.  Their well-roundedness is a strength - anyone in the starting lineup can hurt you, and what they do well, they do very well.  In UVA's favor is the scheme matchup and the fact that NC State isn't deep; once they start substituting past the top six, they're taking offense off the floor.

-- Outlook

All of that, plus the fact that this is on the road, plus the Wolfies' good win-loss record, would tend to make this one of our tougher matchups.  To ease your mind some, double-check their resume.  They haven't done all that well when faced with quality competition - the best game they got is a win over 13-7 Texas.  They're 4-2 in the ACC, but they ought to be 5-1; losing to GT is a bad sign.  The Hoos are going into a tough atmosphere, but they've proven the road doesn't faze** them.  Expect a really close one.  Our record streak is likely to be broken, but, ever the optimist, it's time for another winning streak.

-- Final score: UVA 65, NC State 62

**If I make no other mark on humanity through this little blog of mine, I at least will make sure everyone remembers not to write "phase" when they mean "faze."  TWO DIFFERENT WORDS DAMMIT

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