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Notre Dame Basketball: NC State Preview

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Irish try to make it four in a row in Raleigh.

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No.25 Notre Dame (20-7, 9-5 ACC) will try to extend their winning streak to four on Saturday when they travel to Raleigh, NC to take on the North Carolina State Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11 ACC). The Irish are coming in off an ugly win over Boston College on Tuesday. In that game the Irish came out flat in the first half, but turned it on in the second to cruise to a 84-76 victory.

On Wednesday, NC State got waxed at home by North Carolina 97-73. NC State has been reeling, but they are a much better team than their record indicates. As we saw on Tuesday in Chestnut Hill, even the worst teams in the ACC can cause you some trouble and that won’t be any different on Saturday afternoon.

Game Notes

  • Notre Dame leads the all-time series 6-4
  • Notre Dame won the last meeting in Raleigh 81-78 in overtime on January 25, 2015
  • Mike Brey is 2-2 all-time vs. NC State
  • Since the start of the 2014-15 season Notre Dame is 14-4 vs. teams from the state of North Carolina
  • According to KenPom.com NC State is rated 106th, Notre Dame is 25th
  • NC State is 41st in adjusted offensive efficiency, and 234th in defensive efficiency
  • Bonzie Colson is averaging 26.6 PPG, 11.6 RPG and is shooting 67% from the field over his last three games
  • Over his last six games Matt Farrell is averaging 15.4 PPG, 4.8 APG and is shooting 47% from three point land
  • According to VegasInsiders.com Notre Dame is a 5.5 point favorite

When: Saturday, February 18, 2017, 12:00pm ET

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC

How to Watch: ESPN or WatchESPN

North Carolina State Wolfpack (14-13, 3-11)

After beating Duke in Durham on January 23rd it appeared NC State had their season headed in the right direction. At the time they were 14-7 and 3-5 in the ACC. Oh, but how things can change in this rough and tumble world of the ACC. Since then the Wolfpack have dropped six straight, and to second to last in the ACC standings.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Last season NC State finished 16-17, but thanks to a few huge recruits expectations were higher for this year. NC State was picked to finish sixth in the ACC (one spot in front of the Irish) in the preseason, but they simply haven’t lived up to the hype. Because of this, head coach Mark Gottfried was fired on Thursday, but will get to finish off the season. Gottfried has been the coach since the 2011-12 season. He has guided the Wolfpack to four NCAA Tournament bids and two Sweet Sixteens appearances in 2012 and 2015.

Despite the poor results and coaching uncertainty, NC State is still a better team than the record shows. They have some talented players like Dennis Smith Jr., Maverick Rowan and Terry Henderson. Heck, they have five guys averaging double figures this season.

Don’t be surprised if we find Notre Dame in a dog fight on Saturday afternoon against the Wolfpack.

Three Weaknesses

Transition Defense: The Wolfpack are allowing opponents to get 23.8% of its shots in transition this season. That ranks 319th in the country.

Scoring Defense: The ‘Pack are giving up an average of 80.5 PPG this season, which is 323rd nationally. That doesn’t bode well against a team as offensively adept as Notre Dame.

Three Point Defense: You be sensing a theme here with NC State, and that is they simply putrid defensively. Opponents are sinking 8.4 threes per game (297th NCAA) and are shooting 35.8% from three (217th NCAA). This matchup screams in Notre Dame’s favor.

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Three Strengths

Efficient Around the Rim: NC State is great at getting to the basket and cashing in. As a team they’re shooting 66.2% at the rim this season. That is tied for 36th nationally.

Scoring Offense: The Wolfpack can score the basketball. They’re averaging close to 80 PPG (41st NCAA). As you know, their problem is that they can’t stop the other team from scoring.

Rim Protection: North Carolina State ranks 65th in blocks per game, 73rd in shots blocked at the rim and 100th in block %. We’ve seen Notre Dame have trouble against longer teams this season.

Wolfpack to Watch

Dennis Smith Jr. - 6’3”, Guard, Freshman

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Smith was one of the top recruits in the 2016 — No.5 overall on 247Sports. It was a bit of surprise when the Fayetteville, NC native chose NC State over in state powers Duke and UNC. According to DraftExpress.com he’s projected to 4th overall in this June’s NBA Draft.

Smith is the real deal and certainly worthy of being named first team All-ACC, even if his team is at the bottom of the conference. This season the freshman is averaging 19.0 PPG (5th ACC), 6.7 APG (1st ACC) 2.0 SPG (2nd ACC) and is shooting 46% from the field. Smith can do it all and the matchup between him and Matt Farrell will be a treat to watch.

Terry Henderson - 6’5”, Guard, Senior

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Florida State Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports

After transferring from West Virginia prior to last season, Henderson broke his ankle on opening night of last year. The injury caused him to miss the entirety of last season. This year he’s bounced back in a huge way as he’s second on the team in scoring (14.0 PPG) and is one of the ‘Pack’s best three point shooters at 38%. Expect senior guard Steve Vasturia to be matched up with him.

Abdul-Malik Abu - 6’8”, Forward, Junior

NCAA Basketball: North Carolina State at Duke Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Abu is NC State’s best rebounder as he’s hauling 7.0 boards per game. He’s also fourth on the team in scoring. He’s fairly efficient around the rim as he converts on 55% of shots there. He does like to shoot jumpers (46% of his shots are two-pointers) and he shoots them well (42%). Look for him to match up with Bonzie Colson. Those two should have a heckuva battle in the post.

Pick to Click

Matt Farrell - 6’1, Guard, Junior

NCAA Basketball: Notre Dame at Virginia Tech Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports

Even though he’s going against one of the best point guards in the nation, I still got to go with Farrell here. He’s playing great, especially shooting the ball well from outside. I’m going to keep riding him. You know the drill by now. I pick Farrell, good things happen. No more explanation needed.

Prediction

Notre Dame 88 - NC State 72

To put it bluntly, NC State has just been down right terrible over the last six games. They’re giving up an average of 91.5 PPG over this stretch, and a date with one of the best offensive teams in the country is something I doubt the doctor ordered. They’re also playing for a lame duck coach.

Notre Dame is going to score, and they’re going to score a lot. I expect NC State to keep it close in the first half because this is a home game and they have a decent offense themselves. That being said, I don’t think they can run with a team as good as ND for a whole game. The only way I see ND losing this game is if they shoot poorly from the outside, which has happened this season.

The big four (Colson, Vasturia, Farrell and V.J. Beachem) have all shown up over the last three games. I like for that to continue on Saturday afternoon.

Oh and one last thing...WEAR THE GOLD JERSEYS.

All stats from: TeamRankings.com, HoopMath.com, KenPom.com, ESPN.com, UND.com, TheACC.com