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No. 1 NC State takes on No. 8 USF for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen

Survive and advance, baby.

AAC Women’s Basketball Tournament - Championship Photo by Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images

The degree of difficulty will increase for NC State on Tuesday afternoon against a USF team that hangs its hard hat on defense. (The hard hat being an important piece of equipment what for all the rock fights the Bulls like to get into.)

Let’s meet South Florida, in brief:

Da Bulls

... eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG% FT%
... eFG% TO% OR% 2FG% 3FG% FT%
Offense 43.2 (235) 16.5 (55) 40.0 (12) 41.7 (252) 30.3 (203) 72.1 (112)
Defense 38.0 (6) 18.4 (154) 28.7 (78) 38.4 (18) 24.6 (3) 67.7 (86)

The Bulls prefer to play at a slow pace, which helps them take care of the ball, and they also rely on second-chance opportunities to help mitigate their shooting problems. USF is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, but NC State also happens to be one of the best defensive rebounding teams in the country, and the Wolfpack will not be at a size disadvantage up front.

In the frontcourt, USF has rebounding machine Bethy Mununga (6’0), who averages 13.1 rebounds per game, including 4.4 at the offensive end. Center Shae Leverett (6’2) is also exceptional on the offensive boards. Those two combined average eight offensive boards per game.

USF is on the smaller side at the guard positions, and its leading scorer is Elena Tsineke (5’7), who is shooting a solid 46% inside the arc and a serviceable 28.6% from three. Sydni Harvey (5’10) can be tough to keep off the free throw line, but you want her putting the ball on the floor, seeing as she’s shooting 33.9% from three and 32.7% inside the arc.

Point guard Elisa Pinzan (5’8) has been an outstanding distributor (6.5 APG) but is a below-average shooter from two and three. Tsineke and Harvey figure to account for the bulk of USF’s shots.

Off the bench, the Bulls have three-point specialist Maria Alvarez (5’7), who is shooting 40% from outside. She’s attempted 97 threes this year, and just 21 twos.

USF relies heavily on its starting five, and both Mununga and Leverett can be prone to fouls. Ideally, NC State can get at least one of them in trouble early. I also like the matchup for the Wolfpack’s wings in this game. I could see that being a big difference for State offensively. And if the Pack does a solid job on the defensive glass, I don’t think USF is going to be able to keep up. But you never know!