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Posts published in “ACC Basketball”

Pack looking to build on early ACC success

Not since 2004 has a Wolfpack team started 4-1 in Atlantic Coast Conference play. Sure, one could argue that it’s a down year for the ACC, but following a 78-73 win at Miami and a road trip to you know where waiting on Thursday evening, the hype has risen for Coach Mark Gottfried’s squad in Raleigh.

“I think our guys, as soon as the Miami game was over, their minds shifted to North Carolina. I think they will be excited, there is no question,” said Gottfried.

And they should be excited; State hasn’t entered a match-up with North Carolina (16-3, 3-1 ACC) with a better conference record than the Heels in years. Following Sunday’s victory over Miami, the Pack matched their win total from all of last year at 15.

This team is playing with confidence, and it is showing on stat sheets night in and night out. All five starters average in double-figure scoring, with an emerging Deshawn Painter coming off the bench averaging 7.8 points per game. Painter took over the game in Miami, scoring 18 points and pulling down seven rebounds while starting forward Richard Howell battled foul trouble. The balanced scoring has kept the Pack in games all season.

Even with the un-explainable loss at home to Georgia Tech, the Pack finds themselves tied atop the ACC standings. The Pack knows it should be 5-0 in conference play right now, but their sights are set on building on the early success they have earned.

“I think for our team what is important to realize is that although we’ve had a couple of nice wins we are a long, long way from where we want to be. Our guys know that,” stated Gottfried.

The players seemed to share the same view as Gottfried. Junior forward Scott Wood, who broke J.J. Redick’s streak of 54 straight free throws made when he was a perfect seven for seven at the charity stripe on Sunday, putting his streak at 58 going back to last season.

“We’re starting to play well at the right time; hopefully we can continue to get better.”

Wood leads the Pack with just over 13 points a game, scoring double-figures in all five ACC games this season. He’ll need to be at the top of his game if State is going to knock off the Heels in Chapel Hill Thursday night.

The game Thursday is far more important than just ending the winning streak that Carolina holds over the Pack. A win would go a very long way towards the Pack’s goal to make the NCAA Tournament, and would give them a great road win to add to their resume.

“Winning is what breeds confidence. We have to win big games. That’s what changes your program,” said Gottfried, and this is certainly a big game.

Just not big enough for the first-year coach to break out a red blazer like his predecessor. Who, by the way, won his first match-up against Roy Williams and the Tar Heels. Unfortunately, it would be the only time he would come out on top in the rivalry.

ACC Midweek B-Ball Picks – 1/24-26

Can NC State stay atop the ACC with a trip to Chapel Hill Thursday? It’s one of a few intriguing midweek games…

(18-10 on season)

Tuesday

9:00 PM ET – Miami 68 GT 63 (Atlanta) – Miami leading scorer Malcolm Grant (12.9 PPG) hasn’t scored in double-digits five of his last six games, including his 5 points in the 78-73 home loss to NC State Sunday (0-5 on 3-pointers), meanwhile, junior forward Kenny Kadji posted double-figure scoring in nine of his last ten (20 points and 11 rebounds against NC State). If it wasn’t for Glen Rice Jr.’s 19, Georgia Tech would’ve been blown out again at Clemson (64-62 loss) after the 70-38 home defeat to UVa last week. I’m saying Miami’s guards get back in action here, while Kadji and Reggie Johnson feast inside to a conference road win.

Glen Rice Jr. was the only thing going for GT at Clemson Saturday (19 points), and he’ll need to be on against Miami to snap a 3-game losing streak. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com)

Wednesday

7:00 PM ET – FSU 68 Wake Forest 59 (Winston-Salem) – You know the story with this FSU team right now – they’re winning…by…scoring. Through five ACC games, the ‘Noles are at 74.4 points per game – 83.3 PPG in their last three wins (at Duke, Maryland and UNC). The Deacs have been up-and-down, losing to Duke and NC State by 27 PPG, and drilling BC on the road Saturday, 71-56. Jeff Bzdelik and co. have to hope the ‘Noles are a bit road-weary and reading their press clippings.

9:00 PM ET – Duke 72 Maryland 64 (College Park) – Both can share stories of their losses to Temple (Duke, 78-73, and Maryland, 73-60). Traditionally, College Park is a tough place to play for the Blue Devils, but I’m not sure Maryland can score with them in this edition.

Thursday

7:00 PM ET – UNC 75 NC State 68 (Chapel Hill) – As we stretch into late January, NC State is looking down on the Tar Heels in the standings – something we haven’t been able to say in quite a while, but they stay on the road after a 78-73 win at Miami en route to Chapel Hill Thursday. UNC struggled for a half and eased to a 82-68 win in Blacksburg last week before taking the weekend off, and play their first full game without guard Dexter Strickland, who’s out for the season with a knee injury. The Wolfpack have scored 77 PPG on the road in the ACC so far (2-0, 76-40 win at Wake the other game), while the Tar Heels have held conference opponents to 58 PPG in the Dean Dome. Bottom-line, winning at Wake or Miami isn’t winning in Chapel Hill, and while I’m a big fan of the new and improved Pack, UNC edges them out here.

9:00 PM ET – Virginia 66 BC 55 (Charlottesville) – *Thud* <— That’s Virginia’s ACC title chances smacking into a brutal, ugly 47-45 loss to rival Virginia Tech at home over the weekend. By their loss and FSU’s triumph in Durham, the ‘Hoos went from top-3 to the back of a five-team group atop the conference, but they have a nice tune-up with BC on Thursday, where they hope to get in the 50s.