NC State vs. UNC preview: Wolfpack travels to local house of horrors

Grant Halverson

UNC @ StatSheet
2014 Stats
2014 Roster
2014 Schedule

UNC Offense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 48.9 203
Turnover Rate 17.5 106
Off Reb Rate 38.0 18
FT Rate
44.4 85

It's amusing how similar these two teams have become in certain respects. Three-pointers should be a rare sight, since both have one guy they can count on and a bunch of question marks everywhere else. One out of every five of North Carolina's field goal attempts is a three, which is a proportion that ranks 350th (out of 351) nationally. NC State is just a hair ahead at 340th in this category.

UNC is also horrible at the free throw line, where the Heels are shooting under 62%. NC State has had plenty of struggles there as well, though the Wolfpack has improved since the beginning of conference play.

In ACC games only, UNC ranks 10th in the league in effective field goal percentage, 11th in turnover rate, 14th in free throw rate, ... and second in offensive rebounding rate. State is 13th in defensive rebounding rate. Will the Wolfpack be able to prevent the Tar Heels from generating an infuriating number of second-chance opportunities? Might be the difference.

Since 2007, NC State has routinely been clobbered on the glass--not to mention routinely destroyed on the scoreboard--in Chapel Hill. I cringed just looking back over those numbers. In the past, the Pack struggling in this area was a certain ticket to sadtown because the Tar Heels had a wider variety of efficient scorers. That's not the case this season, making State's ability to close down this particular avenue more relevant to the outcome than it typically has been.

Starters

Marcus Paige (6-1, 175) -- Paige picked a good time to start making more three-point attempts. Only three players on the roster have attempted more than 10 threes, and one of them, Leslie McDonald, missed nine games with car trouble. Paige is shooting better in every respect despite a significantly higher workload as a sophomore; he is definitely a guy State will want to keep off the line, as he's hitting almost 91% of his freebies.

Leslie McDonald (6-5, 215) -- McDonald's three-point accuracy (31.2%) is the lowest it's been since his freshman season, not that this has made him gunshy. That is exactly why he is a potential problem--he's going to keep shooting a lot, and he has a better track record from outside than his numbers this year suggest.

J.P. Tokoto (6-5, 200) -- Tokoto's awful free throw shooting makes it difficult to be optimistic about his prospects as a jump shooter, but he isn't a bad scorer inside the arc. Turnover rate's way too high, though.

James Michael McAdoo (6-9, 230) -- McAdoo would be a frightening player if he were able to knock down free throws at a good clip, because he is a foul-drawing machine. As it is, his FT% (52.4, a career-low) is barely higher than his 2FG% (50.7, a career-best). He is averaging more than eight free throw attempts per game, so his struggles there are pretty costly to the team.

Kennedy Meeks (6-9, 290) -- He's one significant reason why UNC rebounds well offensively, though he is even better at the defensive end. He's made 57.7% of his twos and he'll bother his share of shots, too.

Bench

Brice Johnson (6-9, 210), Nate Britt (5-11, 165), Isaiah Hicks (6-8, 220), Joel James (6-10, 280). Johnson makes the most of his time on the floor, as his heroic average of 16.7 field goal attempts per 40 minutes illustrates. Not even Paige or McDonald are shooting that often. Johnson's handling the workload reasonably well, though--he's made 52.1% of his twos.

Britt and Hicks don't figure to shoot often, and both are turnover prone.

UNC Defense 13-14
Four Factors Percent National Rank
eFG% 44.7 32
Turnover Rate 19.9 83
Off Reb Rate 31.6 183
FT Rate
42.6 220

The Pomeroy Predictor likes UNC by 10.

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