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Bethune-Cookman is in town to help NC State bounce back

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Nice of those guys, really.

NCAA Basketball: Bethune-Cookman at Seton Hall Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The NC State men’s basketball team is back in Reynolds Coliseum for its annual game in the old barn, and as is always the case, a tomato can has been lined up for the occasion. Is it a good idea to play the worst team on your schedule right before playing the best team on your schedule? I don’t know, but this is how the schedule worked out.

Bethune-Cookman comes into this evening at No. 353 in the Pomeroy Ratings—that’s out of 358 D-I programs. The Wildcats are off to a 1-7 start under new head coach Reggie Theus. And, uh, well ...

Bethune-Cookman 2021-22

... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
... Adj OE/DE (rk) eFG% TO% OR% FTR
Offense 90.8 (340) 45.4 (290) 20.3 (230) 23.1 (304) 23.1 (310)
Defense 113.4 (353) 56.4 (340) 19.4 (159) 28.2 (173) 35.8 (283)

Okay, so none of those numbers are good, but other than that, the Wildcats are doing fine.

Bethune-Cookman has been among the worst shooting teams in the country across the board: 274th in 3FG%, 275th in 2FG%, 283rd in FT%. The Wildcats have such a lack of perimeter scoring that they have one of the lowest three-pointer attempt rates in the country. And that’s just no way to live for a bad team—you aren’t pulling off upsets by shooting twos all night.

The Wildcats’ leading scorer is guard Joe French (6’5, 180), who is averaging 15.9 points per game. French is the exception to the rule on this team: he’s shooting 40.7% from three, 51.1% from two, and 88.2% at the free throw line. These numbers aren’t early-season flukes; he’s a legit shooter. Maybe the only one on the team, but still. He will need to have a very large night.

Bethune-Cookman doesn’t have much size to work with and it shows on the defensive end, where they’ve allowed opponents to shoot better than 60% inside the arc this season. NC State can definitely expect to see some zone defense—maybe a lot of zone defense—from the Wildcats. They rank 41st in steal rate, so they’ve at least managed to be a bit disruptive, but generally the non-steal outcomes have been bad for them.

KenPom likes NC State by 26.