NC State Wolfpack Basketball, 1st Quarter Grade: A-

Last night marked the beginning of yet another ACC basketball season, with the Wolfpack handily defeating the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, 78-65, led by senior swingman, Ralston Turner, and his 21 points. Once again, Trevor Lacey, the barrel-chested junior do-everything guard, added 15 points, thus continuing his bid to be named to the All-ACC team.  TJ Warren made first team for the Wolfpack last year before going to the Phoenix Suns in the draft, making him the only entry from the ‘pack to last year’s team.

Kind of an inauspicious start to the conference schedule for a Power Five conference, but the ACC has been doing this for years, burying a conference game or two in early December prior to final exams and perplexing us all as to why they began so early. Many of you might recall last year when Virginia Tech held down first place in the ACC for almost a month with it’s season-opening win over Miami in Coral Gables. It’s humorous in retrospect because the Hokies finished with just one more win in conference the remainder of the season, losing 19 of their final 20 and sparking a regime change. Neither club last night is in danger of undergoing such a tumultuous season, though Wake is in for another rebuilding year under 1st year head coach Danny Manning. Mark Gottfried on the other hand is in the process of building something in Raleigh. This is a #12 seed from last year’s NCAA tournament, and though they lost Warren, they have their sights set on making the big bracket again this March.  Let’s take a look at the first quarter of the season.

Note: First quarter only deals with the regular season schedule. We’ll call the postseason overtime when we arrive there this Spring.

Why an A-?

Purdue. Yes it was a road game against a B1G school. But the game was winnable. Trevor Lacey had shots down the stretch, but NC State was done in by their big men’s hands, BJ Anya in particular. Other than that we have an OK resume to date, with wins over RPI’s #31 and 45 in Richmond and Boise. The loss to Purdue won’t hurt much in the long run, as they are #67 and will play a stable, difficult schedule.

How Can They Improve their RPI Before Conference Play?

I’m not really sure. With the Wolfpack currently situated at RPI #34, they still have Tennessee (188), WVU (70), and a Cincy (84) team that played real well last year, but all these games are home or at a neutral site (WVU in NYC), so nothing huge to hang their hat on in terms of a road win. But they will get those opportunities in the league. For what it’s worth, RealTimeRPI has NC State as earning a quality win over South Florida (87th?); so there’s that.

What Does NC State Do Well?

  • Like many teams in the ACC against inferior opponents, they lock it down on D. They presently rank 25th in FG % D, which marks them as the 5th ACC team in the top 25 of that category.
  • They clear the glass on the defensive end, ranking 9th in that category.
  • And they defend the cup also, ranking 13th nationally in blocks, led by big man BJ Anya’s 3.63 blocks a game in a mere 20 minutes playing time a night. They rank 13th as a team in blocks per game, at 6.6.
  • They get to the stripe: 19th in the country in FT attempts. Though accuracy was a bit of a problem vs Purdue
  • They take care of the ball, veteran Lacey gets them into their sets, and has the team at a very positive 27th in terms of turnovers allowed. As the games become more high-leverage, this is a good trait to exhibit.

Where Can the Wolfpack Improve?

  • They don’t pressure the ball at all. For all the turnovers they don’t give up, they struggle to force enough to build up any kind of margin. They are just 0.1 to the positive side of the number line in terms of Turnover Margin.
  • While Lacey, Turner, and Anthony Barber make up a nice offensive leadership trio, the fact is the remaining minutes are spread out pretty well amongst the roster. In the event of a slump, injury, etc., who would step up? I know this is more of a hypothetical than an actual problem, but it’s a valid question. Establishing some offensive depth is crucial.


Promising to be sure. This is a team that should challenge for another NCAA bid, and should be no worse than 11-2, allowing for the potential of an upset to one of those three schools I mentioned above. This means a repeat of last year’s 9-9 finish would have them at 20 wins again heading into the ACC tourney. I have long felt 20 wins in the ACC was the baseline for an NCAA team, and this hasn’t changed, especially if a team achieves .500 in conference play.

NCAA Tournament Chances?

Extremely likely to repeat last year’s success. If they will be any better than last year is to be determined. I take a look at this group and tend to think they’ve plateaued.

The Week Ahead

Games at home Thursday and Saturday vs Charleston Southern (206); and Wofford (91). Definitely a couple of tune-ups during the end of these student-athletes’ semester. Couple quick notes on the opponents:

  • Charleston Southern lost 58-47 on the road to FSU, and has only played five games. Get the lead out Yuccaneers!
  • Wofford, the Terriers, lost their opener to Stanford (69) and then bounced back to beat northeast power Iona (50).  What does this mean though Chuck?! Absolutely nothing readers, nothing at all.

Please stay tuned as I run down each of the ACC teams first quarter marks as we rev up our coverage on Inside The ACC. Please air any grievances below in the comments! You might be just in time for feats of strength!

Have a great week all, and check back in as I am going to be posting these until I am exhausted (at least a few a day until complete).  Follow me on Twitter (@insidetheacc)

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