The North Carolina State Wolfpack are looking to rebound after a win over the Clemson Tigers that was too close for comfort, and they also had a heartbreaking loss at the buzzer to the Maryland Terrapins the game before. This Tobacco Road matchup against Wake Forest will be N.C. State’s third game since taking down No. 1-ranked (albeit minus Ryan Kelly, of course) Duke in a big game at Raleigh.
Winston-Salem and the Deacs will welcome the Wolfpack at 7 p.m. ET in the Joel Coliseum tonight, and you can watch this battle unfold on Fox Sports Carolinas. This is a game that could be a huge springboard upset for Wake Forest at home, but it will most likely be a statement game from an angry NCSU team that is looking to get back to the form they showed when they beat Duke in convincing fashion.
Richard Howell, C.J. Leslie, and Lorenzo Brown will, as always, be the three guys at front and center for the Wolfpack, and Brown in particular is just playing at another level right now. The star point guard is feeding it to Howell and Leslie perfectly, and he’s even adding in some above-average rebounding and tough defense on the perimeter. Brown is stealing passes at a high rate and holding opponents to just .974 points per possession.
Wake Forest is definitely one of the worst teams in the conference, but they haven’t fared out too badly in a 2-3 start to conference play and a 9-8 record overall. Still, they are only held together by standouts C.J. Harris and Travis McKie with little help behind those two. Aaron Roundtree is an underrated player, but big man Devin Thomas is overrated. He is a solid passer for a big and is one of the conference’s best players on the glass (can’t wait to watch him and Howell go at it), but he has a PER of just 14.0 and is far too inefficient. He turns the ball over on a quarter of his possessions, and his solid blocking masks his overall defensive inefficiency.
The Wolfpack just have too much depth and talent for this game to be too close, but they are on short rest right now and could be slipping. However, I view this as a statement game on the road against an in-state rival for the Wolfpack, and Howell, Leslie, and Brown are simply too talented and determined not to lose. Thomas and Harris will have to be playing at a ridiculous level in order for Wake Forest to win this, and I just think Howell will limit Thomas in this one.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.