NC State gets tested again tonight

The NC State fan base was euphoric after Saturday’s 84-76 win over Duke, and for good reason.  They knocked off the top-ranked team in the nation, confirmed to any nay-sayers that they were a team to beat in the conference … even created an internet sensation.

However, teams are only given a brief amount of time to celebrate a big win before having to focus on the next date on the calendar.  For the Wolfpack, that comes tonight, when they travel to College Park to face the Maryland Terrapins.

An NC State win would go even further to convince doubters that they are the team to beat in the ACC.  Going on the road to face a hostile environment in the Comcast Center and coming out with a win would boost their resume

If NC State loses tonight, however, we can expect plenty of talk about how the Wolfpack looked past Maryland, suffering from a big-win hangover.  Certainly, that could possibly happen, but this thought blatantly ignores that there’s another team in the game.

Maryland will be coming off two straight losses, against Florida State and Miami.  On Saturday, they will face North Carolina in the Dean Smith Center.  The Terrapins could definitely use a win to right the ship, instead of going to Chapel Hill with a 1-3 conference record facing a team with a week to prepare and rest.

For Maryland, the key will be finding any sort of rhythm offensively.  After rattling off 13 straight wins, these last two games have been a struggle for the Terrapins.  Maryland may have been surprised by the increase in difficulty after playing one of the weaker non-conference schedules in the nation, but now they are fully aware what must be improved to compete at this level.  However, to make the necessary improvements, they will have to avoid the discouragement and negativity that can follow the two losses they have suffered.

The Wolfpack will face another stiff defensive test in the Terrapins.  NC State boasts the nation’s most efficient offense, making 52.8% of its field goal attempts. However, Maryland is third in the nation in field-goal percentage defense, at 35.3%.  How NC State deals with Alex Len’s shot blocking ability could be key in the contest.

Block party: Speaking of shot blockers, Clemson had eleven blocks against Wake Forest in a 60-44 win at Littlejohn Coliseum last night.  Of those eleven, K.J. McDaniels had seven.

It’s an impressive number, along with his season average of 2.3 blocks per game, but it only begins to tell how impressive of an athlete McDaniels is.  The sophomore is listed at 6-6, considerably shorter than most players considered threats to alter defenses with their rejections.  However, his incredible jumping ability, as well as good timing on the defensive end of the floor, allow him to make up for a few missing inches.  This athleticism also showed itself with an impressive put-back slam.

Shipping up to Boston: While most eyes will be on NC State-Maryland, Miami-Boston College should also be an interesting contest tonight.  Miami’s defense-first style of play isn’t garnering a lot of eyeballs, but it has gotten them a 3-0 start like their more offensively powerful foes in Raleigh.  Remember, NC State went to the wire with the Eagles when they visited Boston College to begin ACC play.  How will the Hurricanes fare in their trip to Conte Forum?

The Eagles were close in both of their ACC losses, coming off a loss at Wake Forest where they were an Olivier Hanlan three-pointer away from forcing overtime.  It’s clear they have a strong idea what they must do to win in ACC play to compete against teams that have more talent or athleticism, the results should follow.  However, they will be giving up some size to the Hurricanes, which could complicate things for leading scorer Ryan Anderson.

 

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