Pack vs. Bearcats in the Tip-Off Marathon

The Wolfpack travels to Cincinnati on Tuesday to play the Bearcats, picked 4th in the preseason AAC poll.  Cincy beat NC Central by 13 points in its opener, while NC State played an impressive second half in beating Appalachian State on opening night.

If this Bearcat squad is like any other recent Cincinnati team, I expect a very physical, tough game.  It will be interesting to see how the Bearcats adjust to the new foul rules and emphasis.  State did pretty well in that regard on Friday in playing a very clean game for the most part.

It would not be wise to expect this very young NC State team to win in a hostile environment this early in the season.  Look for how well Tyler Lewis and Cat Barber handle the pressure and how the young big men defend and rebound.  This should be a game for State to build on and learn from, and is the type of game where we find out whether there is a leader and a team mentality.

This is a good game for exposure, as it is part of ESPN's Tip-Off Marathon.  State has the opportunity to show off its program in a marquee game in what could be one of the better games of the Marathon.  A good showing can not only help the team's confidence but also improve how this team is perceived nationally.  Remember all of the negativity after Puerto Rico last season?  It would be nice to have the opposite reaction to the early season spotlight this year.

What to Expect from NC State in 2013-14

As I mentioned in my comprehensive season preview, this is a rebuilding season for the Wolfpack.  This team could make the NCAA Tournament if things go very well, but fans really need to temper their expectations.  Try to enjoy the ups and downs of a young team trying to grow and develop and  judge this team based on 1) defensive effort, 2) improvement over the course of the season and 3) attitude. 

At first glance, State's non-conference schedule gives the Pack only a few chances for quality non-conference wins- Cincinnati, Tennessee and Missouri.  Unfortunately, two of those are on the road, and one would be foolish to expect this young team to go into Cincinnati the second game of the season and beat a tough, physical team.  On the other hand, there appear to be very few RPI killers, and it is likely a couple of the mid-majors on the schedule will look pretty solid in March.    

State plays a manageable conference schedule with eight games against the (projected) top six teams in the league- Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Virginia, Notre Dame and Pittsburgh and seven against the bottom five- Georgia Tech, Miami, Wake Forest, Clemson and Virginia Tech.  Getting to .500 is possible, but by no means easy.

Bottom line: If State is in the NCAA conversation on selection Sunday, then it was a successful season.

NC State Season Preview 2013-2014

State will be decent.  Not great, not terrible.  This is a rebuilding year. 

State Falters in Puerto Rico Tip-Off

It's very easy to dwell on the disaster that took place Sunday night in Puerto Rico, but State did manage two blowout victories.  Despite plenty of sloppy basketball, the Pack won its first two games easily.  However, it seemed like the Pack was missing something even in those wins.  State was too laid back, often careless with the ball and lacked intensity.  Even so, Penn State and UMass never really had a chance to upset the talented Wolfpack. 

On Sunday, Oklahoma State came out with much more fire and determination and NC State never matched it.  C.J. Leslie struggled to get going (thanks in part to tough defense and in part to 3 questionable fouls) and Lorenzo Brown continued to play well below his ability.  This was not the State team we saw last March or even most of last season.  State lacked leadership, passion, confidence and togetherness.  Only a couple of players showed those traits.

2012 Season Preview: Can Brown & Leslie Lead the Pack to Glory?

My season preview continues with a look at the 2012-13 NC State Wolfpack.

The preseason ACC favorite returns a talented foursome of experienced upperclassmen and brings in three McDonald's All-Americans for the first time in the program's history.  If NC State is ever going to make it back to the top of the ACC and national prominence, this sure looks like the year to do it. 

Projected Starters:
PG- Lorenzo Brown
SG- Rodney Purvis
G/F- Scott Wood
F- C.J. Leslie
F/C- Richard Howell

Wolfpack Ranked #6 in USA Today Coaches Poll

NC State will begin the season ranked #6 in the USA Today Coaches Poll.  While expectations and hype are a little higher than perhaps they should be, this is great exposure for the program and could be an added boost of confidence for the Pack. 

Duke (8), UNC (12) and FSU (24) are the other ranked ACC teams.

The complete poll can be found here.

2012 Season Preivew: Let the Madness Begin..Is This State's Year (Finally)?

Tonight at PNC Arena, NC State's most anticipated team in ages opens practice with a night of celebration.  Next week, the ACC's schools will gather for Operation Basketball and it is quite likely the Pack will be voted as the preseason favorite in the ACC for the first time since 1974.  Yes, the world is telling us that the Pack is back!  I've heard that one before, once or twice maybe...

How many times have we State fans believed or been told that the Pack is back?  How many times has it turned out we were duped again?  Is this the year it happens?  Can State win the ACC for the first time since 1987 (tournament) or 1989 (regular season)?