NC State will host North Carolina on Wednesday night hoping to avenge a 67-55 loss earlier in the season. The Wolfpack managed to keep close with the Tar Heels for a significant portion of that game, but State also had some glaring deficiencies that ultimately cost it. The Wolfpack will have to correct what went wrong in Chapel Hill to have a shot at an upset in Raleigh.
|UNC Offense -- Four Factors||eFG%||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2015-16 Overall (National Rank)||52.5 (65)||15.1 (15)||38.8 (9)||33.5 (254)
|2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank)||50.4 (5)||15.7 (4)||38.9 (1)||33.1 (10)|
You can pretty much set your watch to Roy Williams' offenses. They aren't gonna shoot a lot of threes, they're going to grab a lot of offensive boards, and they're going to push the action whenever they can. That was true of Roy's first UNC team in 2004, and it's still true in 2016.
NC State has traditionally done a poor job of countering the Tar Heels' strengths. The Pack's been bullied on the glass numerous times in the Roy era, and that's helped submarine plenty of games. In the first meeting this season, Carolina grabbed 51.2% of their missed shots, which was crucial because the Tar Heels missed a lot of shots. Defensive rebounding always feels extra important to me against UNC. State was absolutely dreadful in this area.
Aside from getting better there, NC State also needs Marcus Paige to repeat his 1-9 shooting performance from the first meeting. (Not likely, since Paige always plays like a basketball genius at PNC Arena.)
As a team, Carolina shot uncharacteristically poorly in the first game, and again I'm gettin' back around to rebounds--if the Tar Heels shoot closer to their average, State could get buried quickly if it isn't at least cleaning up the defensive glass.
|UNC Defense -- Four Factors||eFG%||TO%||OR%||FT Rate|
|2015-16 Overall (National Rank)||48.1 (96)||19.0 (127)||29.4 (149)||29.9 (45)
|2015-16 ACC Only (Conf. Rank)||46.4 (2)||19.1 (4)||32.2 (8)||34.4 (8)|
One of the reasons why NC State has struggled to beat Carolina over the last decade--aside from the fact that UNC always has more talent--is the way Roy Williams constructs his teams. It's practically guaranteed, year after year, that the Tar Heels will be a terrible matchup for NC State. That's especially true in the Mark Gottfried era, and super extra especially true this season.
Carolina does a pretty good job of forcing turnovers, and its interior defense has been outstanding. In Chapel Hill, the Wolfpack committed 18 turnovers (TO% = 29.0) and made only 41.9% of its two-point attempts. That's incredibly difficult to overcome without a plethora of outside shooting options, which State obviously does not have.
State's not going to turn the ball over on 29% of its possessions Wednesday night. The performance in Chapel Hill was an aberration for a Wolfpack team that has otherwise done well in that area. So that's a built-in help heading into Wednesday night. But what else is fixable, realistically?
NC State hasn't been a good two-point shooting team all year. It's weakness on strength, and it's a problem with no answer, unless you consider crossing your fingers an answer. It'll be tough for the Pack to score efficiently in the paint, which might make it necessary for the Pack to lean more heavily on three-pointers, even if State is not at all inclined to do so.
On the bright side: for as good as the Heels are on the offensive boards, they're only average on the defensive glass. State pulled down 17 offensive rebounds in the first meeting, and the Pack is plenty capable of having another good effort here. But if that's the only thing buoying the offense--as was the case in the Dean Dome--then an upset ain't happening.
The Pomeroy Predictor has UNC by six.