North Carolina State
Pick – Analysis
The ACC has dominated this Tournament and this Game is a good representation of that. NC State and Louisville meet up in the Sweet 16 after both won Games as underdogs in the Round of 32. NC State knocked off the top-seeded Villanova, and Louisville, despite being the lower seed, we’re dogs against Northern Iowa. In their second meeting of the season, the Cardinals are a -2.5 point favorite at 5Dimes.
The Wolfpack really surprised a lot of people in that first meeting winning at Louisville 74-65 as a 10-point underdog. NC State has a complete team as seen in its big wins, but hasn’t really put it together all season. That’s why it’s not a huge surprise to see them here. It’s a team with tons of potential and we saw that against Villanova.
In their first meeting, NC State really controlled the paint and Montrezl Harrell struggled to do anything only going 1-of-5 from the field. Chris Jones was actually Louisville’s leading scorer (20 points) and he’s not even on the team anymore. Because of that Game, it’s a surprise to see Louisville as a favorite here. It can’t be overlooked that not only do the Wolfpack have an advantage down low, but the backcOurt battle is pretty even. Louisville likes to press, but NC State has the guards to deal with that in the speedy Cat Barber. The Wolfpack only turned it over eight times in that first Game.
A lot of people are likely riding off what Louisville did in its last Game when Terry Rozier dropped 25 points, five boards and seven assists. The bigs of NC State will make getting to the rim a lot harder for Rozier, in addition to Cat Barber likely defending him. Harrell will need to have a better outing than their first meeting if the Cardinals are going to win. Him along with Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang have to be strong on the boards.
NC State destroyed Villanova on the glass as Lennard Freeman and Abdul-Mailk Abu combined for 24 rebounds. Those two in addition to Beejay Anya are going to be a handful, especially if they continue to play at a high level. Cat Barber and Trevor LAcey have been great in the Tournament and those two have already seen this press, which will only help. Ralston Turner is probably NC State’s best three-point shooter, but more importantly he’s probably going to be defending Wayne Blackshear.
Blackshear is Louisville’s wild card as he scored 19 points in the first meeting. If Blackshear gets going and is hitting his shots from deep, that will open things up a little bit for the Cardinals. Freshman Quentin Snider has really been huge since Chris Jones left and this is his biggest Game yet.
If you watched the first Game, it’ll be really hard to take Louisville here as a favorite. While the Cardinals played well last Game, they had trouble against the bigger UC Irvine in their first Game. NC State’s combination of size and guard play is getting overlooked and they are playing great basketball right now. When this team was on its Game, they beat they likes of Duke and North Carolina in addition to Louisville. The Wolfpack are inconsistent, but this is the end of the year and they definitely have the higher upside.