Game 1 Preview: NC State

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Game 1 Preview: NC State

Postby Commissioner » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:53 pm

Who: North Carolina State
When: Sunday, November 10, 4:00 p.m.
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, NC
TV: ACC Network (Available on Watch ESPN w/fee)
Radio: 910 AM.

The Titans kick off the 2019-20 season with a visit to Raleigh to face North Carolina State.

This will be just the third meeting between the two schools, and they've both been good games, with the Wolfpack coming out on top each time. Way back in 1978, NC State beat the 18th-ranked Titans in the second round of the NIT, 84-77, on their way to the tournament final (which they would drop to Texas). In that game, Terry Tyler got into foul trouble early in the second half and the Pack blew the Titans away on the boards, 64-33, with Kendall Pinder and Hawkeye Whitney combining for 35 points and 35 rebounds for NC State. The teams met for the only other time in the fall of 2013, when the Titans played one of their better games of the year but lost 82-79. TJ Warren had 29 points as the Pack won it at the foul line in the final seconds, after Detroit came back from 14 down in the final five minutes. Juwan Howard had 24 points and 7 rebounds and Ugochukwu Njoko played one of his best Titan games, finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

NC State is a solid ACC team generally being picked to finish around 5th or 6th in that 15-team conference, on it's way to a likely NCAA bid. Last year the Wolfpack were left out of the NCAA tournament despite a #33 ranking in the NET formula, and the reason was clear--a non-conference schedule that ranked #353 out of 353 D-1 teams. They've toughened that schedule a bit this year, but not much. Much as we like our Titans, we are picked for 8th in the Horizon. But we're probably tougher than State's next four opponents (Florida International, Alcorn State, St. Francis, and Little Rock), and the Pack won't play a road game this year until a conference game with Wake Forest on December 7.

They're NCAA hopes have already taken an early hit, as the Wolfpack lost its home opener on Tuesday to Georgia Tech, a team generally picked for the lower half of the ACC, on Tuesday. But in fairness, the Pack was minus two key cogs--its best big man, and its best guard. It's not clear if either or both will play on Sunday.

The Tech game was a real blow to the Pack, not only because, given their non-conference slate, they need conference wins, but because the game was so winnable. NC State scored the game's first 8 points, led by 15 points late in the first half, and never trailed in regulation. They had a chance to win it on the final possession of regulation, but failed, and after taking the lead with 35 seconds left in the OT, they stopped Georgia Tech but gave up the offensive rebound, and allowed the Engineers to get the win on free throws with 2 seconds left. While this shows NC State's weaknesses, it probably doesn't help the Titans--the Wolfpack isn't going to be overconfident on Sunday or looking past anybody.

The Pack will be heavily favored, but no team with Antoine Davis can be counted out, and the Titans reportedly held their own with Michigan in a scrimmage last month. We all know that the Titans are undersized this year (at least until the Mystery Egyptians show up). NC State has size, although that's not really the team's strength, and they'll likely start 4 guards on Sunday. The best big man is probably 6-10, 225 pound junior DJ Funderburk, who was good for 8.8. points and 4.2 rebounds off the bench last year. But Funderburk was suspended indefinitely by Coach Kevin Keatts in late September, and didn't play against Georgia Tech. Keatts hasn't said if DJ will play on Sunday.

They've also got Danny Dixon, a 6-10 grad transfer from Kansas--no, wait, that's Kansas City, good ole UMKC. Phew. Dixon is actually a Grosse Pointe kid who graduated way back in 2014. He's been slow to develop, with a year at IMG Academy, two years of little action at George Mason, and a redshirt transfer year at UMKC before seeing regular time last year. But he's kept plugging, and this year will play before packed crowds and likely see the NCAA tournament. Dixon was good for 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in the WAC last year, so, and meaning no disrespect, I think we can contain him. Let's put it another way--this ain't as good a front line as Oakland or Wright State can put up. But it is tall. They've also got Manny Bates, a 6-11 redshirt freshman who was a 4-star recruit in high school, but has had two shoulder surgeries and has barely played in the last two years. Bates started and grabbed 7 rebounds against Tech but was just 1-8 from the floor. Another grad transfer, Pat Andree, is a 6-8 stretch 4 who averaged 13 points and 6 rebounds at Lehigh, and more or less matched that with 12 and 8 in the Tech game. Andree is a good three point shooter, but a bit of a sieve on defense. Should be an interesting match up with Willy Isiani, a pair of 6-8 forwards who can usually shoot over defenders on the perimeter. Atticus Taylor, a 6-6 juco transfer, may actually be the best banger of this bunch, but he played just 3 minutes in the opener. Jericole Hellems played well at times as a freshman and was first man off the bench last Tuesday, chipping in 15 points, thanks to a 7-7 performance at the stripe.

NC State's strength is in the guards: Senior point Markell Johnson is a superb passer, a 42% shooter from three, and a good defender. That will be a great match-up with Davis. Except... Johnson was a late scratch from the Tech game due to an ankle injury. He is listed as "probable" for Sunday, but may be less than 100 percent. DJ Bryce also averaged in double-digits last year, while Devon Daniels and Braxton Beverly each averaged over 9 points a game last year. Beverly is a good catch and shoot player behind the arc, but doesn't bring a lot else. Yet if Johnson is out, or even less than 100 percent, the Pack may be a touch thin at guard, given that they would normally start 4 guars. Junior Blake Harris left the team two weeks ago for unspecified reasons, and freshman Darreon Seabron, their top recruit, was ruled ineligible for this year by the NCAA on Tuesday. Thus on Tuesday, Daniels, Beverly, and Bryce totaled 115 minutes on the floor--no other guard played.

So much of the look of this game depends on the availability of Funderburk and Johnson. Having lost to Tech already, my guess is that Keatts will be more inclined to think that Funderburk has learned his lesson. And Johnson will likely be back, though if he's slowed even a bit it's a big boost for our AD. But if they're both out, there are some opportunities to exploit.

The Wolfpack play an up-tempo game that should get the Titans ready for Green Bay. They always look to push in transition, and once in the half court they'll spread the floor, as the four-guard offense suggests. That may open up opportunities for Funderburk or Bates to go one on one down low, where it could be their height advantage against Justin Miller's sheer bulk and power. NC State also crashes the boards, so the Titans have to block out, and that's not easy if we're playing a zone. On the other hand, it can yield points in transition for the Titans.

I think this will be an entertaining game with some potentially interesting match-ups: Davis/Johnson; Isiani/Andree; Miller/Funderburk. It's a bit of a can't lose game for Detroit--even a bad loss merely means our team, short on practice due to the APR ban, had real trouble with a good, veteran, and much taller ACC team on the road. I mean, that's not the desired result, but we can live with that. A close game, even in defeat, would be encouraging, and a win would be the Titans' first upset of a P6 team in quite some time.

Probable North Carolina State Starters
PG: Markell Johnson, 6-1 Sr. (12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 42.2% 3PtFG)
SG: Braxton Beverly, 6-0 Jr. (9.4 ppg, 2.5 apg, 34.7% 3PtFG)
G: C.J. Bryce, 6-5 RS Sr. (11.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 34.5% 3PtFG)
G: Devon Daniels, 6-5 RS Jr. (9.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 31.1% 3PtFG)
C: DJ Funderburk, 6-10 RS Jr. (8.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg)

Top Reserves
F - Jericole Hellams, 6-7 Soph. (5.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
F - Pat Andree, 6-8 Sr. (12.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 41.9% 3PtFG at Lehigh)
F - Atticus Taylor, 6-6 RS Soph. (9.0 ppg, 7.4 rpg at SW Miss CC)
F - Manny Bates, 6-11 RS Fr.
C - Danny Dixon, 6-11 RS Sr. (7.5 ppg, 3.6 rpg at UMKC)
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Re: Game 1 Preview: NC State

Postby Rogobob77 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:19 pm

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Re: Game 1 Preview: NC State

Postby cjmcgow35 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 10:09 am

Also, looks like the game will be available on Fox Sports Detroit Plus
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Re: Game 1 Preview: NC State

Postby 1975SHjoe » Fri Nov 08, 2019 2:01 pm

If you have Comcast it's channel 707. The game is listed / confirmed in the Comcast channel guide . GO TITANS!!
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