Five games scatter the ACC slate on Tuesday night, as a mix of non-conference home games and tip-off tournaments highlight the schedule. Here’s the preview.
#22 LSU (3-1) Vs. NC State (2-2), Brooklyn, New York, 5:30 PM ET on ESPNU
- NC State will have their hands full with LSU freshman forward Ben Simmons on Tuesday night. Simmons, a 6’10” Australian native is one of the NBA’s top 2016 draft prospects, and went a long way towards showing the nation why on Monday against Marquette. Simmons finished with 21 points, 20 rebounds, and seven assists, and the monster stat-line is one in which the Wolfpack will try to avoid having happen against them on Tuesday.
- NC State is off to a rather pedestrian start to their 2015 season. Mark Gottfried’s squad is 2-2 after a questionable opening night blowout loss to William and Mary by 17, and a rough Monday night loss to Arizona State, in which the Wolfpack shot a mere 5 for 16 (31%) from three-point land.
These are two teams heading in opposite directions. While NC State still has a dynamic offensive playmaker in guard Anthony “Cat” Barber, the team defense as a whole is a big unknown. Luckily for the Wolfpack, LSU has had an interesting start to the season on defense as well, as they are tied for 150th nationally in points allowed at nearly 72 points per game. This will be an extremely tight match-up in a high-scoring affair, but I’ll take NC State due to their team mentality as a whole on both ends of the floor, as opposed to LSU who essentially leaves everything on the shoulders of their true freshman forward.
NC State 82 LSU 76
North Carolina A&T (0-5) Vs. Virginia Tech (2-1), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- North Carolina A&T is off to an expected 0-5 start, and a first win of the season against a young Virginia Tech squad will not come easy. The Aggies do not have a player on their team taller than 6’9″, which surprisingly gives Virginia Tech a rare size advantage on the glass.
- with the Hokies size being a decided factor in this game, expect redshirt-junior forward Zach LeDay to have another big night for Virginia Tech. LeDay is averaging 18 points and 11.3 rebounds per game on the season thus far, and has been a pleasant surprise for Buzz Williams and his coaching staff.
While Virginia Tech is still waiting for the debut of their primary ball-handler, Devin Wilson, the Hokies should still have enough of a presence with point guard Justin Robinson to handle NC A&T’s pressure defense in the game this evening. Additionally, I just don’t see how the Aggies will be able to compete with the Hokies on the glass, where Virginia Tech’s huge advantage will lead to extra possessions, more points, and an easy pre-Thanksgiving victory.
Virginia Tech 85 North Carolina A&T 57
St. Francis (Brooklyn) (1-2) Vs. Louisville (3-0), 7:00 PM ET on ESPN3.com
- While St. Francis is extremely outmatched by most opponents in their non-conference schedule, nobody will criticize them for trying to challenge themselves against much tougher opponents. Whether it be Boston College, St.Louis, or now Louisville, the Terriers are growing up in a hurry against a difficult schedule.
- Louisville has weathered the storm from numerous off-court issues to cruise to a 3-0 start. At only 52.7 points per game allowed, the Cardinals rank 4th in the country on the young season.
Too much size, speed, and athleticism for St. Francis to handle in this one. Rick Pitino should order for a large dose of center Chinanu Onuaku, who is averaging 11.7 points and 7.7 rebounds per game. Louisville runs away with this one in a rout.
Louisville 88 St. Francis 52
#19 Vanderbilt (4-0) Vs. Wake Forest (3-1), Maui, Hawaii, 7:30 PM ET on ESPN
- Thus far this season, Vanderbilt has been able to play extremely sound basketball on both ends of the floor. The Commodores currently rank 32nd in points per game nationally at a shade over 87 points per contest. For all the good they have done on offense, they have been even better on defense, where their 57.5 points allowed per game ranks 13th in the country.
- Wake Forest is riding an emotional high after an upset win Monday night against #13 Indiana. Although it is a very impressive win, Wake Forest will have to shoot the ball better from the free throw line than they did on Monday, as only made six out of their 12 free throw attempts.
Although I expect Wake Forest to be a bit better than advertised this season, they simply do not have the horses to compete with one of the best teams in the SEC in Vanderbilt. Defense will be the difference, and Vanderbilt’s suffocating man-to-man match-up defense will be the difference down the stretch, where I expect the Commodores to pull away.
Vanderbilt 77 Wake Forest 65
Kansas State (4-0) Vs. #9 North Carolina (4-1), 10:00 PM ET on ESPN2
- Kansas State has cruised to a 4-0 start and have not exactly been tested in any of their games to date. The Wildcats have won their first four match-ups of 2015 by an average of nearly 21 points per game.
- North Carolina has made do thus far this season without point guard Marcus Paige. While they miss his leadership dearly, most clearly apparent by their head-scratching weekend loss to Northern Iowa, they clearly need his calming presence at point guard to help even out the inconsistency on offense that has characterized the team in each of their first five games this season.
If there is one spot in this game where North Carolina holds a significant advantage, it is in the three-point shooting department. The Tar Heels have made three pointers at an unspectacular 32.6% clip (Marcus Paige, please come back!), while Kansas State has been even worse, making only 27% of their attempts this season. Late in this game, I believe that Nate Britt and the Tar Heels will be able to make a couple key shots from deep to pull away and decide the final margin.
North Carolina 83 Kansas State 77