Laughing time is over—there are only elimination games left for NC State in this season. The Wolfpack will play 12th-seeded Boston College in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon hoping to repeat the success it had against the Eagles a couple of weeks ago.
That game started out impressively poorly before State completely turned things around and dominated BC for the better part of 30 minutes. It’d be great to see that performance again, but the Eagles figure to play better this time around, and they’re going to be playing with the desperation that comes with knowing that the only way to the NCAAs is winning the conference tournament.
What went right in the first meeting:
— NC State made 11 of 21 three-point attempts to keep the Eagles in the rear-view mirror most of the night. The Pack scored 31 points over the final 10 minutes of the first half to establish a double-digit lead heading into halftime.
— State was also excellent inside the arc, converting on over 58 percent of its twos.
— It was a balanced scoring effort, with four players in double figures, led by Al Freeman, who finished with 20 points. Braxton Beverly and Sam Hunt combined to shoot 9-10 from three.
— The Pack’s defense stifled BC’s perimeter attack, limiting the Eagles to 4-25 shooting from beyond the arc.
What did not go so right:
— State was really bad on the defensive glass, surrendering 20 offensive boards—BC grabbed about 39% of its missed shots on the night. Can’t have a repeat of that and expect this game to be easy.
— BC freshman Steffon Mitchell proved to be a serious hassle as he accounted for six offensive boards by himself and was a perfect 5-5 inside the arc. His impact has typically been far more minimal this season, and State needs to make sure that’s the case this time around.
— Jerome Robinson hurt an elbow early on, and while he did log 33 minutes, he didn’t really look comfortable after the injury and made only four of 20 field goal attempts.
— NC State turned the ball over on 21.9% of its possessions and finished -4 in the turnover column, which is something that usually bodes poorly for this team. BC is not especially disruptive, so I’d expect the Pack to be better here.
— Markell Johnson missed his lone field goal attempt in the game and although he finished with eight assists, that came with seven turnovers. It was one of his least efficient efforts of the season.
We can hope that fatigue will work against Boston College this afternoon since they have such a short bench—all five starters played at least 32 minutes against Georgia Tech, and Ky Bowman went the full 40. But the impact of heavy minutes is often overstated this time of year, and the Eagles will probably be fine, at least at this early point in the tournament.
The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by four.