Death From Above: NC State
|WHAT||NC State at Michigan|
|WHERE||Crisler Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan|
|WHEN||7:30 PM Eastern, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan –11 (Kenpom)|
Right: Mark Gottfried continues Sidney Lowe's tradition of wearing pretty incredible suits.
NC State started off the season ranked #6 in both polls but has tumbled to #18—and #31 in KenPom—after a 20-point loss to Oklahoma State and a two-point win over UNC-Asheville in the last ten days. Despite the early-season struggles, this is one of the most talented teams Michigan will face all year, as the Wolfpack return four starters from a team that gave Kansas a serious scare in last season's Sweet 16.
There's not a lot of depth on the Wolfpack, but they spread the load very evenly among their seven-man rotation—six players average 24-32 minutes and 10.6-14.8 points per game. Every man on the court is a threat to score, though some are more efficient in that regard than others.
The highest-usage guy thus far is lead guard Lorenzo Brown, and that hasn't been a positive: he's boasting an ugly 35.9 eFG% and his 25% assist rate is offset by a 28.3% turnover rate. Brown's a decent slasher with a knack for getting to the line, however, and at 6'5" he's a tough matchup at the point.
Brown is joined in the backcourt by McDonald's All-American freshman Rodney Purvis, a 6'2" scorer who can finish at the rim or hit from the outside (10-17 3PT). With senior three-man Scott Wood (13-29 3PT), NC State has a pair of outside shooting threats that Michigan must watch carefully.
NC State's best player so far this year has been freshman four T.J. Warren, a highly regarded recruit who's currently hitting 70.7% of his two-point shots, including a remarkable 91% rate at the rim. Though he's got good size at 6'8", 233, Warren hasn't done much on the boards, and he's shooting a dismal 7-18 at the free-throw line—giving him a good hack when he gets the ball at the rim is not a bad idea at all.
On the inside, the Wolfpack boast a solid two-man rotation in junior C.J. Leslie and senior Richard Howell. Leslie, a viable NBA prospect, was the team's leading scorer last year and has improved greatly at finishing around the rim since his freshman year. Like Warren, his weakness comes at the line, where he shot 60% last year and is a little below that mark so far this season. Howell is the team's big body at 6'8", 261, and he's an excellent rebounder on both ends of the count.
That's about it as far as the rotation goes; freshman point guard Tyler Lewis will see a few minutes—he's attempted all of ten shots and has had some turnover issues.
Sophomore big Thomas de Theay may see spot minutes in the event of foul trouble—he's appeared in three of the team's five games this year. EDIT: de Theay left the program on Monday. So yeah, they're very thin up front.
Along with the aforementioned Ok. State loss and narrow win over UNC-Asheville, NC State has a trio of victories over less-than-formaidable opponents: Miami (OH), Penn State, and UMass.
Here are the four factors numbers from both last and this year:
|Off. 11-12||Off. 12-13||Def. 11-12||Def. 12-13|
|eFG%||50.4 (118)||57.0 (16)||47.1 (85)||44.0 (72)|
|Turnover %||18.7 (81)||19.1 (106)||18.6 (256)||18.6 (259)|
|Off. Reb %||35.8 (45)||31.1 (197)||30.9 (121)||31.7 (149)|
|FTA/FGA||36.3 (174)||43.5 (70)||32.1 (71)||27.4 (46)|
NC State wasn't a lights-out shooting squad last year but they've improved with the additions of Purvis and Warren in a small sample size. The defense is relatively average—none of their players is noted for his efforts on that end—doesn't force a lot of turnovers, and blocks a very low percentage of opponent shots (5.8%).
Most of the Wolfpack's shots come from inside the arc, though they're well above-average connected on both threes and twos; they struggle mightily from the charity stripe, however, hitting just 61.3% there.
Um, keep doing what you've been doing? I mean, right?
Attack the rim. NC State's big man rotation consists of all of two players, essentially—Warren is more in the Glenn Robinson III mold of a relatively skinny finisher who can get by at the four due to superior athleticism. Michigan has gone to the rim far more this season than in years past under Beilein; Tim Hardaway Jr., Robinson, Trey Burke, and even Nik Stauskas can all score off the drive. If Michigan can get Leslie and Howell into foul trouble, the Wolfpack will be forced to go small and inexperienced up front, and should be ripe for the picking defensively.
Use those fouls. This is going to take a long time to get used to saying, but Michigan has plenty of depth up front. NC State's bigs are very efficient at scoring around the rim, but downright bad at earning their points at the free-throw line. If Jordan Morgan, Mitch McGary, and Jon Horford have to resort to delivering a good thwack to Warren or Leslie to prevent a layup, so be it. Michigan should be able to survive foul trouble even if they have to turn to Blake McLimans and Max Bielfeldt for spot duty—both have proven passable in limited stretches this year.
Keep doing what you've been doing. I mean, yeah.
THE SECTION WHERE I PREDICT THE SAME THING KENPOM DOES
Michigan by 11