N.C. State opens up its 2019-20 slate with ACC foe Georgia Tech at PNC Arena
In a week where N.C. State fans must deal with the blowout loss to Wake Forest and the impending storm that is Clemson, the return of Wolfpack basketball is a most welcome sight. The Wolfpack starts its 2019-20 campaign with an unusual early-season ACC match-up, as it welcomes Georgia Tech to PNC Arena. With the ACC Network launch, fans will be treated to a better match-up than normal to start the season.
Fresh off a 24-12 campaign that ended in the NIT, the Wolfpack returns a strong cast of guards while welcoming in several high-impact newcomers. The biggest returner is, of course, senior Markell Johnson, who averaged 12.6 points per game and returns as the unquestioned leader of this year’s squad.
Also returning are juniors Braxton Beverly, D.J. Funderburk (sort of) and Devon Daniels, as well as senior guard C.J. Bryce. Joining the team is rim-protecting freshman Manny Bates and impact transfer Pat Andree. That’s a lot of firepower and the Wolfpack should be quite good under Kevin Keatts this season, with an NCAA Tournament berth the expectation.
Meet Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech limped through a 14-18 season, earning just six ACC wins in head coach Josh Pastner’s third year at the helm. Of course, the Yellow Jackets found a way to beat the Wolfpack on the road, a win that potentially kept N.C. State out of the NCAA Tournament.
The Yellow Jackets return four of their top five leading scorers, including six-foot guard Jose Alvarado, who led the team in scoring despite shooting just 39 percent from the field. He took the majority of the team’s shots each game and that doesn’t seem like it’s likely to change this year, no matter how many bricks he puts up.
Starting with him is point guard Michael Devoe, a prized four-star recruit from the 2018 class. Devoe shot a similar 40 percent from the field but impressively shot 39 percent from three.
Center James Banks III had a career night the last time he was in Raleigh, scoring 19 points and adding nine rebounds, five blocked shots, and three assists. He also scored the winning basket and killed the Wolfpack frontcourt all game. The Wolfpack missing Funderburk due to suspension might end up having a massive effect on this game.
The Yellow Jackets did very few things well last season. Georgia Tech finished 326th in points per game and 267th in turnovers.
They did defend well (53rd in the nation in scoring defense) and of course, they consistently give the Wolfpack fits. The Yellow Jackets will be going for their third straight win over N.C. State and on opening night, anything is possible.
Until I see otherwise, I still believe N.C. State is the better basketball team and will prevail in the opener. It seems too early for any N.C. State s*** to occur. I’ll take the Wolfpack in a close one.