Coming off their biggest win of the season in an 82-72 thriller over #6 Florida State, Syracuse looks to continue their winning ways as they visit NC State on Wednesday. Considering that the Orange are 0-7 in games away from the Carrier Dome this season, an ACC win on the road could do wonders to keep their existing momentum.
NC State comes into the game at 14-8 (3-6), with their last two games resulting in a win over Duke, and most recently, a 25 point loss to Louisville. While the ACC has been anything but certain this year, one thing that has been consistent for the Wolfpack is the presence of Dennis Smith Jr. The freshman point guard and North Carolina native has NBA scouts drooling, and is a projected top 5 draft pick this summer.
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) January 24, 2017
Smith Jr. leads the team in points, rebounds, and steals per game, with a stat line of 19.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.5 APG, and 2.2 SPG. The entire offense goes through him, allowing him to capitalize on his explosive playmaking ability. After a stellar performance to lead his team over Duke, Smith Jr. really struggled against a superior Louisville team. Smith Jr. loves to get to the rim, so Syracuse will certainly look to pack in their zone and force him to take contested outside shots. At 36.9% from downtown, he is not afraid to shoot, but the Orange will certainly rather take that chance than allow drives to the paint.
While many eyes will be on Dennis Smith Jr., he is far from the only playmaker for NC State. Four other members of the Wolfpack average double figures. Terry Henderson, Abdul Malik-Abu, Maverick Rowan, and Torin Dorn all average north of 11 points per contest.
An interesting player I’ll be looking out for on NC State is their 7’0” Turkish big man, Omer Yurtseven. Jim Boeheim and company were actively recruiting Yurtseven this summer before the center ultimately chose Raleigh over Syracuse. At times he has shown his skill offensively this season, but defensive mistakes and foul trouble have kept him out of big minutes in many games.
As a team, NC State is usually involved in high scoring affairs, averaging 80.7 points per game as a team, while giving up 77.7 points on average. They hold slight advantages over their opponents in rebounding and assist numbers, and a slight disadvantage in the turnover margin. This will be a key aspect of Wednesday’s game, as Syracuse capitalized off some important defensive plays in their win vs. Florida State.
Time to give a shout out to Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Miami and Maryland!
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 28, 2017
Throughout this year, Syracuse has found that sometimes it’s not always easy leaving home. If they can contain NC State’s scorers and continue their momentum from Saturday’s upset, this ACC road win would come at a great time. But as Orange fans know far too well, nothing ever comes easy in the ACC.
Wednesday’s game will be televised on ESPN2, and is scheduled for a 7:00pm tipoff.
Keith Bremer is a 2015 graduate of Newark High School and is currently attending Syracuse University and is a contributor to FingerLakes1.com. Comments and feedback on this article can be posted below or directed to Keith at firstname.lastname@example.org.