Opponent: North Carolina State
Location: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY
Date: Wednesday, February 14
Time: 9:00pm EST
TV: ACC Network or stream on the WatchESPN app
Line: Syracuse -4.5
Wolfpack are a bubble team along with the Orange
NC State enters the Carrier Dome Wednesday night in a similar position as Syracuse. Both teams are in desperate need of wins between now and Selection Sunday.
Joe Lunardi from ESPN has NC State as one of his “Last 4 In” teams and Syracuse as one of his “First Four Out” teams. Jerry Palm from CBS has the Wolfpack as one of his “Last 4 In” teams as well. Syracuse is outside of Palm’s “First Four Out” rankings.
NC State does have a stronger resume than Syracuse and it’s due to their numerous wins over top 25 opponents. The Wolfpack beat #17 Arizona in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November, beat #12 Duke at home on January 6, beat #11 Clemson at home on January 11 and defeated #14 North Carolina on the road in overtime on January 27.
Luckily for NC State, they only have one poor loss. The bad loss came at the Battle 4 Atlantis against Northern Iowa who is ranked 160 in RPI. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t that bad of a loss and shouldn’t hurt their tournament chances very much.
Syracuse fans should be somewhat optimistic for tonight’s game as NC State has lost their last two games – by 10 on the road to Virginia Tech and by 7 at home against North Carolina.
Senior guard Allerik Freeman (pictured below) leads the Wolfpack in scoring with 14.1 points per game but only shoots 34.6% from the field and 32.4% from three point range. Although Freeman isn’t the most efficient scorer, he is a pretty well-rounded player and averages 4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per contest.
Sophomore center Omer Yurtseven is an imposing 7 footer for NC State. He averages 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. Yurtseven can also score the ball. He scored 20 points against Virginia Tech last week and averages 13.8 points on the season.Embed from Getty Images
Overall, the team is full of capable scorers. The Wolfpack have six players that average over 8.7 points per game. For reference, Tyus Battle, Frank Howard and Oshae Brissett are the only Orange players that average over 6 points per game.
Sophomore guard Markell Johnson (pictured below) is one of the best passers in the country. He averages 7.8 assists per contest and recently had a five game stretch in which he averaged 11.4 assists per game.Embed from Getty Images
The Wolfpack are a scrappy and aggressive team. They are first in the conference in forcing turnovers at 15.4 per game. Johnson leads the team in steals at 1.9 per game. NC State forced #12 Duke into 16 turnovers last month in a 96-85 win. Frank Howard and Tyus Battle will need to limit turnovers if the Orange want to win.
NC State is in the top 20 in the nation in offensive rebounding with over 13 offensive rebounds per game. Yurtseven leads the charge with 3 offensive rebounds per game. Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe will need to get a body on him and keep him off the boards.
As good as NC State is at crashing the offensive board, they are dead last in the ACC in defensive rebounds at 23.5 per game. Look for Chukwu and Brissett to have big rebounding nights.
The Wolfpack also struggle to stop teams on the defensive side of the ball. They are 234th in the country in scoring defense as they give up 74.1 points per game. On Saturday, NC State gave up 96 points in a loss to North Carolina. They are also last in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 46.4%. The Tar Heels shot 56.3% in the contest.
Syracuse vs. North Carolina State All-Time Series
Syracuse leads the all-time series against NC State 7-3. The teams last met on February 1, 2017. John Gillon shot 9-10 from three point range and dropped 43 points. Syracuse won 100-93 in overtime. Check out the highlights from Gillon’s career game here:
Syracuse wins 80-76