Nobody wanted NC State to be in this position at this relatively early stage in conference play, but alas, here we are, in something pretty close to a do-or-die situation. The Wolfpack has dropped four straight after its 2-0 start and desperately needs to snap this streak against Wake Forest, lest this season begin spiraling out of control.
And this is a game NC State should win, making it an opportunity that really can’t be missed.
Wake Forest is led by first-year coach Steve Forbes, and the Deacs look different in some ways, but they’re also right around the same spot they were last year in the Pomeroy Ratings. The rebuild is gonna take some time.
— A major difference in the Deacs under Forbes is their disruption level at the defensive end: they rank 80th in turnover rate and 19th in steal rate, which is quite the change from the Danny Manning era.
— Unfortunately for Wake, it is struggling to defend the paint. This is not a team that blocks many shots, and its 2FG% defense ranks 298th. In seven league games, opponents have made 57% of their twos. The Deacs do a decent job on the defensive boards but that doesn’t help so much when teams are making a high percentage to begin with.
— On the offensive side, the Deacs are led by the trio of Daivien Williamson, Isaiah Mucius, and Ismael Massoud. Williamson followed Forbes from East Tennessee and has been a solid add in the backcourt. He’s a good distributor, scores effectively inside the arc, and at least up until this season, was an above-average three-point shooter. Massoud is a three-point specialist shooting 42.3% beyond the arc in his career, while Mucius is a threat inside and out.
— Wake has been highly mistake-prone, coughing up the ball on 22% of possessions in ACC games, which ranks dead last. The Deacs have been only average at best in the other factors.
— They are gonna shoot the heck out of some threes, you can bet on that: nearly 47% of their field goal attempts in league play have been from beyond the arc. They’re shooting 34.5% in ACC games, which ain’t bad. Five guys have attempted 30 threes or more this season, and State has really got to lean on its scouting report here. For example, Wake senior wing Jonah Antonio has attempted 50 threes (and made 20) and just five twos. He has 469 career three-point attempts against just 84 two-point tries.
— KenPom likes NC State by seven.