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Quickly getting to know UMass Lowell, NC State’s opponent Thursday

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NCAA Basketball: Massachusetts Lowell at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

NC State returns to action this afternoon against UMass-No-The-Other-One at the Mohegan Sun bubble in Connecticut. This was not a game on the original schedule, but the Wolfpack needed a replacement game after its game against William & Mary on Monday was canceled.

And the Pack actually got a better opponent out of this deal, so that ain’t bad. Noting the UMass Lowell River Hawks:

— They’ve started the same five in all three games this year: Obadiah Noel (6’4, 190), Ron Mitchell (6’3, 170), Connor Withers (6’7, 195), Allin Blunt (6’7, 205), Salif Boudie (6’8, 225).

— Noel is averaging 24 points per game and is accounting for a massive amount of offense: he is 14th nationally in workload and takes 36% of Lowell’s shots while he is on the floor. Dude is a really solid player who gives the River Hawks a little bit of everything. One thing to watch in particular is how often he gets to the free throw line, as he’s very good at that. He already has 34 free throw attempts this season, including 21 against San Francisco

— Noel is a career 52.6% two-point shooter and a solid 35.6% from three. Generally he prefers to do his work inside the arc (hence the free throw attempts). He also leads UML in assist rate. He is not likely to spend much time on the bench this afternoon (37 MPG).

— Often when you have someone on a team accounting for a giant chunk of shots, there’s also someone on that team shooting at a comically low rate. In this case that’s Bryce Daley, who has attempted five shots in 90 minutes of playing time this season. At least wave to the cameras on occasion, Bryce, let your mom know you’re at the game.

— As a team, UML has been decent offensively under head coach Pat Duquette, and the River Hawks are willing to push it, so don’t be surprised if this one gets a bit hectic in places. This is only an average shooting team from three and the free throw line, but they are pretty good inside the arc (Noel’s impact shows here).

— Defense is a different story: they’ve finished each of the last five seasons ranked below 300 in defensive efficiency and they are 266th early this year. They have a couple of guys who can affect shots but in general this team’s interior defense is bad.

— Don’t expect this one to be over right out the gate—UML already has beaten San Francisco (KenPom No. 72) and led Ohio State (KenPom No. 12) by a bucket with 10 minutes left before ultimately losing by 10. The River Hawks are competent enough offensively to make things interesting, especially if Noel is playing well.

— The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State (KenPom No. 43) by 15.