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NC State closes out non-conference slate with Loyola-Maryland

NCAA Basketball: Loyola-Maryland at Maryland Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had enough of these dang scrub teams, so it’s a good thing we’ve reached the end of the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Wolfpack will host 4-8 Loyola-Maryland in Raleigh on Friday night, then it is on to money time.

Loyola checks in at No. 294 in the Pomeroy Ratings and is 0-3 against teams in the KenPom top-100, losing all three by double figures. The Greyhounds have a new head coach this season and the program is a long way from being competitive again.

The offense is led by junior guard Andrew Kostecka, who is averaging 19.8 points per game and has had a good year shooting it: he’s at 53.8% inside the arc and 37.8% from three. The concerning thing from Loyola’s perspective is that he has made only 38.5% of his twos against top-100 foes this year. He has to be effective across the board for the Greyhounds to have any sort of chance at an upset.

Third-leading scorer Brent Holcombe also is having a fine year overall but has had issues with foul trouble that are cutting into his playing time. The forward is a good rebounder and the best rim protector on an otherwise undersized team, so he really needs to be out there as much as possible.

Loyola has shot the ball at a decent clip this season (51.9 eFG%) but its defense ranks among the 20 worst in D-I, and that is negating pretty much all the good stuff happening at the other end of the floor. The Greyhounds rarely force turnovers, don’t defend the perimeter well, and are well below average in block rate. I can’t imagine they’ll create much resistance for the Pack.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 26.