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Northwestern vs. North Carolina State preview/game thread


Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sp

Northwestern is heading down south to the land of the pines. Northwestern is thumbing their way into North Caroline. Northwestern is heading down the road, and praying to god they see headlights.

If Northwestern loses in Raleigh, at least they will lose free.

That's right, it's the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, and that exclusively means Northwestern has to play North Carolina State, since it's a huge, ages-old rivalry and all. Since everybody besides Iowa and Minnesota pooped the bed last night, the conference is COUNTIN on the Wildcats to take down the Wolfpack. And it's in Raleigh, North Caroline, so TAKE IT AWAY OLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW

Are they good?Remember all those good players on NC State last year? C.J. Leslie? Point guard Lorenzo Brown? GUNNER Scott Wood? Talented big Richard Howell?

Well, they're GONE. Leslie's on THE NEW YORK KNICKS' D-LEAGUE AFFILIATE after a questionable decision to leave school, Brown's on the Sixers, and Howell and Wood graduated. And a top-10 Kenpom offense that had the Wolfpack as one of the better teams in the ACC has deteriorated.

Now their offense is pretty heavily run through T.J. Warren, whose scoring average went from 12.1 to 22.7. He takes a whopping 34.7 percent of the team's shots when he's on the floor, so... yeah.

They've looked fine in their games against bad teams, but have lost both of their opportunities against Kenpom top 150 teams, including an OT loss to North Carolina Central. Northwestern is a Kenpom top 150 team! But right now, they're worse than NC Central on Kenpom, so we'll see.

What do they do good? Wow, NC State is bad at shooting threes! Just 27.6 percent!

Oh, no: they never take threes, No. 331 in the country in terms of 3PA/FGA. And they have the 26th best percentage on twos in the country. They know where their bread is buttered: inside, with Warren.

Can NU win? In the loss to NC Central, they shot just 3-for-20 from three, while the Eagles took a whopping 41 free throws. That's how to beat this team: keep them on the outside, and draw fouls. Neither are particular strengths for a Wildcats' team with porous perimeter D, foul-prone centers in Alex Olah and Nikola Cerina, and nobody with a major knack for drawing fouls. But perhaps a nice, well-orchestrated zone and a huge step-up from a Drew Crawford, JerShon Cobb, or some quality flopping by Dave Sobolewski can get NU a road win.

Names: Two great ones.

Beejay Anya. It's not that his name is "B.J.," it's that it's "Beejay."

And the wonderful STAATS BATTLE. STAATS BATTLE. STAATS BATTLE. Staats was off the team for a while, which worried me, so it's good to see he's back. Sadly, he doesn't play much.

Go Cats. Drink every time a Chris Collins/North Carolina reference is made. And hope for Raleigh, so you can see your baby tonight.