While Miami was surging from behind to beat the Virginia Tech Hokies on Wednesday night, the exact opposite was happen for the Wolfpack: NC State lead by 7 at halftime on the road against Virginia, but lost the game 58-55.
Truth be told, that’s probably the worst thing that could’ve happened for Miami.
If NC State wants any hope of winning the regular season ACC crown, this is now a must win game for them. If they fall 4 games behind Miami in the loss column with 9 games to play, including trips to Duke and UNC, they’re all but eliminated.
So yeah, this is basically the perfect storm for NC State to upset Miami. They’re at home, where they are 12-0 on the season. They’re pissed off after losing a very winnable game at Virginia. Their backs are almost against the wall. It has all the makings of an upset.
With that said …
NC State Scouting Report
It’s probably easiest to break this game down this way:
NC State is really, really good at offense. Miami is really, really good at defense.
Miami is good at offense. NC State is nothing more than meh at defense.
NC State (offense) points per game: 78.6, which ranks them 10th in the country. Miami (defense) points per game: 58.4, good for 21st in the country.
NC State (offense) points per possession: 1.13, 10th in the country. Miami (defense) points per possession: 0.89, 19th in the country.
Miami (offense) points per game: 69.0, 140th in the country. NC State (defense) points per game: 69.6, 247th in the country.
Miami (offense) points per possession: 1.05, 86th in the country. NC State (defense) points per possession: 1.0, 195th in the country.
You can see that there’s a pretty stark contrast there. After checking out the box scores for NC State’s games against both Virginia and Maryland, it becomes clear that the key to beating this team is…
Key For The Canes
Contest every shot. This season, NC State (as a team) is shooting 50% from the floor, which ranks them 4th in the country. What did Virginia and Maryland do to beat them? They held them to 37.7% shooting and 31.1% shooting, respectively. While "contest every shot" is a pretty basic key to the game, that’s what this is really going to come down to. Miami can’t afford to lose people on defense, because NC State has shown the ability to knock down their shots.
Miami was in Erick Green’s face on virtually every shot on Wednesday night. While most of them went in, that’s not the point. The Canes are going to have to contest NC State’s shots with the same intensity they used to chase Green around all night.
On the plus side for Miami, NC State is expected to be without guard Lorenzo Brown for this game. Brown is averaging 13 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds a game for the Wolfpack, and was out for most the second half of the Virginia game, when the Cavaliers made their comeback.
If Reggie Johnson was still out, I’d be way more concerned. Reggie hasn’t looked 100% on the offensive end since his return, but his presence should still be felt on the glass, where Richard Howell has been giving teams all sorts of problems for NC State. This one really isn’t going to be easy for Miami, and if they do lose this game, I won’t be too surprised. With that said, I expect the momentum the team gained from the second half against Virginia Tech to carry over to this one, and the Canes to ultimately leave North Carolina with a 74-70 victory.