The Boston College Eagles (13-11, 4-8 ACC) travel down to Raleigh to take on the NC State Wolfpack (18-8, 6-7) hoping to turn back-to-back wins to a bona fide win streak. The Pack have struggled in conference play, beating up the teams below them and getting crushed by those above them in the standings. Coming off a decisive blowout loss to Duke last weekend, they’d surely love to get back to winning in front of their home fans.
NC State’s Strengths
This team is built to score. The Wolfpack come in averaging 81.6 points per game, 12th best mark in the country with a nearly 11 point margin of victory. How do they do it? They’re not elite in any one category, like three point shooting or points in the paint (though they can certainly shoot it from deep. The guard trio of Braxton Beverly, Markell Johnson, and CJ Bryce are shooting it about 40% from beyond the arc). But what matters most is that they just put up a lot of shots, and most of them go in (11th in FGA and 6th in FGM).
The key to all of this is their offensive rebounding, where they average 11 per game, firmly in the elite category. G Torin Dorn, and F duo DJ Funderburk and Wyatt Walker combine for nearly six of those, with the rest spread throughout the team. A lot of credit goes to Kevin Keatts’ rebounding scheme, as none of those guys are physical freaks (Walker and Funderburk are 6-9 and 6-10 respectively). They just know where to be.
What also makes this team so lethal is how the points are spread out. Four players average double digit ppg, but the team leader is Dorn with just 13.8. Focusing on any singular player is useless; someone else is just going to pick up the load.
Keys to the Game
Ey we’re switching it up! This section is usually first.
For all the good things I’ve just said about NC State, they’re really lacking that one traditional big man. It clearly hasn’t mattered that much, since they’re 18-8 and every conference loss but one has come to a clearly superior team. But that one loss, to Wake Forest and their rotation of four forwards/centers, says a lot. The Demon Deacons were just able to outmuscle their opposition. For the Eagles, that means Nik Popovic, Luka Kraljevic, Jairus Hamilton, and JC Reyes need to all do their part and contribute meaningful minutes.
The other key to that Wake win? Low turnovers. Wake turned the ball over 11 times when NC State had been forcing about 17 per game. Yes it’s obvious, but this team will often sell out for the steal on the full court press. The Eagles will have to pay extra attention to their passing lanes this game and not get frustrated if a ball or two goes the other way.
Player To Watch
I’m just going to say Braxton Beverly. This dude hits the absolute dumbest, most absurd, and ridiculous three point shots from well beyond the arc. It’s some of the farthest shooting I’ve seen in a long time from someone not hailed “the next steph curry” (cough, cough, Trae Young). BC’s defense has improved as of late, holding opponents to just 57 points each in the last two games, but it’s time to see if this is a sign of improvement or just the result of playing two bad teams.
Matt: 68-60 NC State
Toppin: 71-60 NC State
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