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A look at how NC State’s 2020 season compares to 2019

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Everything is the same but different but also the same.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It feels like a lot has changed with NC State’s performance on the court this season, so I went and compared how the Wolfpack has fared in league play this year with 2019, ... and actually, this year is not as different as I thought.

I think the fact that offensive production is down everywhere this year has skewed my perception—in raw terms, NC State’s offense is definitely worse, for example, but relative to the rest of the ACC, not so much. There is also some bizarre consistency in a couple areas.

Wolfpack Offense in League Play

Season Off_Eff (ACC rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR 2FG% 3FG%
Season Off_Eff (ACC rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR 2FG% 3FG%
2019 104.7 (5) 47.7 (10) 17.1 (5) 34.9 (1) 25.9 (15) 46.7 (11) 32.9 (7)
2020 99.7 (6) 47.7 (10) 17.3 (5) 28.0 (9) 28.3 (10) 48.7 (6) 30.6 (11)

Identical overall shooting percentages! This year’s team has gotten better shooting inside the arc and also attempted twos at a higher rate. The turnover rate category shows negligible change, so in the two most important offensive factors, the 2020 offense is nearly identical to the 2019 version.

But the 2019 offense was better on a per-possession basis because it got a bit more from three, rebounded better, and also shot a few percentage points better at the free throw line.

It’s interesting, though—and really tells you a lot about the 2020 season—that NC State’s extremely average of about 1.0 points per possession is good enough to make it the sixth-best offense in the ACC. At 99.7 pts/100 possessions, State is just a smidge off the league average of 100.5. The ACC as a whole ranks 22nd out of 32 conferences in offensive efficiency. My eyes, the goggles do nothing!

I mean, NC State has the sixth-best offense in the league? This does not seem like it can be right, but here we are.

As for the other end...

Wolfpack Defense in League Play

Season Def_Eff (ACC rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR 2FG% Allowed 3FG% Allowed
Season Def_Eff (ACC rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR 2FG% Allowed 3FG% Allowed
2019 104.1 (10) 50.0 (9) 19.6 (2) 31.2 (9) 42.2 (15) 51.6 (13) 31.0 (5)
2020 100.7 (7) 48.7 (8) 19.8 (5) 29.9 (7) 39.2 (15) 49.2 (10) 31.7 (5)

State’s interior defense has been better this year, and has been slightly less fouly, though still quite fouly. Why do we always gotta be so damned fouly.

Thanks mostly to the presence of Manny Bates, NC State ranks fourth in block rate, up from ninth last season. Bates leads the league in block rate and indeed is tops nationally in the category among all qualified players. Now if he could just keep that up while also being better on the defensive glass.

With modest raw improvements in a number of areas, NC State’s defense in 2020 has been right about league average—which, by NC State standards, is pretty good! This end of the floor has not been nearly the liability that I feared it would be. Now if we could just do something about all the fouls...