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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.

The 3 Baseball Gloves That Fit for Youth Players

Louisville Slugger 11.5-Inch FG Genesis Baseball Infielders Gloves

A pair of gloves is the most important accessory for the baseball player as it is the indispensable part of this sport. The baseball gloves for infielders from Louisville Slugger have gained a renowned name among the players due toleft handed baseball glove its appealing features and specifications.

If you are looking for the pair of baseball gloves for young baseball players, then Louisville Slugger 11.5 inch FG Genesis baseball gloves are the best bet. Designed specifically for young players, these baseball gloves are made with buffalo leather with high-end performance mesh.

The Genesis series baseball gloves are made of high-quality buffalo leather, and so, you will feel more comfortable even when worn for a long time. They can be readily put on right off the shelf as they are designed to suit the requirements of the players.

These gloves are available at a great price and have the right value for your money. Even after several sessions of playing the game, you will feel maximum comfort on wearing them. These gloves are an excellent choice for younger players who outgrow the glove for every one or two years.

It is not too big and not too expensive, and so, they are appropriate choice for young players who want to enhance their performance.

Louisville Slugger 11.5 inch baseball gloves can be a little bit snug for the grown adults, but it is appropriate for those who prefer smaller and compact gloves. You will love the make of this product as the manufacturer has given serious consideration to every intricate detail to ensure comfort to the wearer.

These baseball gloves are made with high-quality leather fabric, and so, you won’t have any irritation or discomfort on wearing them. You are sure to get the right value for your money on purchasing this baseball gloves

Louisville Slugger 9.5-Inch FG Genesis Baseball Infielders Gloves

If you are a young baseball player who is all set to go right now, the Louisville Slugger Genesis should be your foremost choice. Built particularly for young players, featuring performance mesh and buffalo leather, the Genesis series tends to offer a game-ready yet traditional feel.

This is a professional grade infielder’s right-hand throwLouisville Slugger 9.5-Inch FG Genesis Baseball Infielders Gloves glove, which is specially optimized for the young players. It is amazingly light for its size. It is made of cowhide leather that is oil-treated to make it durable and comfortable.

Its flexible heel enables for appropriate fit. It has a padding that better cushions the hand. Its black and neutral gray color combination tends to work for both girls and boys. Different companies made girls baseball gloves and boys baseball gloves. They also make like that in gloves for softball.

Louisville Slugger is well-known for designing baseball gloves from superior American steer hide. Their entire range of baseball gloves is featured with the perforated palm pad for improved feel, additionally wide tanned laces for lightweight construction and durability that promoted best hand protection.

You can find Louisville baseball gloves that are available in different sizes to fit the hands of women, youth, and adult and comes in a range of tones and hues that show the competition which you have come to take part. You need to choose this Louisville baseball glove that is perfectly optimized for your position with mitts constructed for outfielders, pitchers and first-basemen alike.

The soft leather of this glove will feel excellent right out of the box that can be used immediately. The design of this glove has all necessary features required for the young children to master the skill of catching a baseball. This will result in less frustration and tears from the part of the player and increases the process of learning the fundamental skill of the game. The glove is suitable for young players as it perfectly suits their skill level and hand size.

BRV1951 11.5 Inch Junior/Youth Glove

If you have planned to buy baseball glove for young players, then you can opt for a pair of BRV1951 11.5-inch glove. These gloves are designed especially to meet the needs and requirements of the young players. Vinci Pro kids baseball gloves Gloves are regarded as the finest gloves available on the market today. These handcrafted gloves are made with the intention of ensuring quality in mind.

The most interesting features about these youth gloves are that they give the same feel as that of gloves worn by the professional players. The baseball gloves from Vinci are made by craftsman with several years of experience in this industry. So, youths and young players can get the comfortable and high-quality baseball gloves at the right price.

The custom made pro serious junior gloves make use of patterned, high-grade leather and so, you can be sure of the gloves’ durability. The back side of the gloves is made with lightweight softer leather to make it easier for the child to wear them comfortably.

Moreover, the young players feel the ease of squeeze even when they wear these gloves for a longer time. As all the baseball gloves introduced by Vinci are pre treated to ensure a shorter break in time. The quality leather used by Vinci for manufacturing gloves is highly durable, flexible and is known to retain their shop for a longer time.

The exclusive deep pocket design of Vinci gloves allows less spin and better control. The heavy duty thumb of this glove is another highlighting feature. The custom baseball gloves are designed with the needs of young players in mind. The light weight material, durable design, heavy duty thumb made these gloves an optimal choice for young players to want to achieve control over their game play.

NC State’s Manning to enter NFL Draft

NC State’s linebacking corp took another huge hit today as junior outside linebacker Terrell Manning has made it official that he will declare for the 2012 NFL Draft.

Given his history with injuries (torn-ACL), it seems to be in his best interest to try to turn pro now to get the most out of his career.

Manning finished this season with 76 total tackles (14.5 for a loss), recorded 5.5 sacks, forced four fumbles, and picked off three passes. His performance in the Belk Bowl helped secure a Wolfpack victory over Louisville. In the game, Manning made six total tackles and recorded an interception.

With senior middle linebacker Audie Cole graduating this spring, the Pack will be left with a young, but athletic group of linebackers for the 2012 season. The good news is that they will have a solid defensive line in front of them and a very talented and experienced group of defensive backs backing them up.

Choose Youth Baseball Bat from Top 2 Below

Easton S50 Youth

Are you a budding and young baseball player looking for a durable bat? This Easton S50 baseball bats is all that you want. The Easton S50 baseball bat is a perfect youth barrel bat that is a smart option for those participating in leagues, where a short barrel is needed.

easton composite bats Baseball Bats Easton is best big barrel bats for youth. This stunning baseball bat is made of aluminum alloy that makes sure that the bat is durable, strong and comfortable. The complete end of this baseball bat is rolled-over fully to assure it fits in the hands of players automatically.

Additionally, this youth baseball bat also comprised of ultra-thin handle featured with cushioned grip to make sure that the bat does not get slipped off hand when you play.

This is a suitable youth baseball bat that guarantees the players with utmost safety as well as comfort. It is also ideal for talented and young baseball players who wish to make their gaming skills sharpen using a durable and firm bat.

The hands of young baseball players are usually delicate and liable to injuries in the mid of game. To counter this, the manufacturer of this product has assured the handle is featured with cushioned grip that offers the young player with maximum safety and comfort when he or she plays.

The cushioned grip also guarantees that the baseball bat is not slipped off the hand, which enhances the confidence of the players. This baseball bat is designed with a ultra-thin handle that offers the young player a firm grip to make sure the player is in complete control of the bat. Easton Mako Youth Baseball Bat and Easton S1 youth bat are other great baseball bats made by Easton.

Pros

  • Increased swing power and stability of the player
  • Performance of the young player is increased remarkably
  • Cushioned grip offer comfortable handle
  • Strong and durable bat

Cons

  • It’s made of a single piece aluminum
  • No special features

Easton S500 Youth

The Easton S500 Youth baseball bat is the new easton bast and most popular stick perfect for younger players. This youth baseball bat comes featured with a myriad of benefits.

The manufacturer has clearly understood the players’ requirements and the game before designing this bat. easton composite youth bats The design greatly balances length to weight ratio and it is also very attractive.

Easton S500 is in the category of aluminium baseball bats that is durable and lightweight. In fact, Easton S500 baseball bat for younger players is among the lightest of other baseball bats in the market. It offers swift, light and fast swings that will put you atop of the game.

The handle is extremely slim, with a comfortable grip. The barrel is narrowed and suits well for the hands of younger players.

If you want the baseball game with style, you should opt for this product. It has 7050 alloy aircraft that offers fast swing speeds. This will place you well ahead of the rival. The bat is lightweight and also strong.

The extremely slim handle is sturdy and renders a convenient feel to the hand. The player can generate great shots effortlessly. The length to weight ratio of this baseball bat is minus 13. The length is appropriate for both taller and short players.

Since the material is aluminum alloy, the player can feel handling the bat strong yet lightweight. The bat is one-piece, with no accessories. The grip of this bat is pro-tack and can endure more games without any wear and tear. The slim design appears captivating and extremely perfect for young players and children.All these feature make its best rated youth baseball bats.

Pros

Features excellent design
Ultra-slim bat handle
Aircraft alloy structure has great swing speed
Lightweight
Durable and lasts for longer period

Cons

Price is quite high

Louisville Slugger YBAR152 Youth

This is the most versatile youth baseball bat of the series of Louisville Slugger, with armor that is compatible with power hitters and contact alike. The one piece, aluminum designed cool baseball bats armor is comprised of the end cap to transfer energy back towards the barrel while contacting with the ball that enhances results and performance, while yet dampening vibration.

The aluminum is tough and strong enough to endure more games without feeling any wear and tear. This incredible youth baseball bat is lightweight and has a narrow barrel diameter.

The cap increases the bat’s performance by transferring back the energy towards ball while hitting. This Youth armor baseball bat is composed of a great barrel diameter of two that is considered appropriate. It allows the players to hit the ball precisely from any preferred angle of field.

The handle that is slim makes it hassle-free for young players to properly handle the bat with utmost ease.

This bat is a smart choice for most of the young players. A baseball bat having strong vibration does not ensure comfort in hands. So, the manufacturer of this product has featured an end cap to decrease the vibration and make it comfortable for young players to handle.

This vibration is converted into great energy while being hit. This eventually results in higher speed, with little body energy demanded from the player. The young player will absolutely increase on swing speed and complete performance of the game.

The 7050 alloy design of this youth baseball bat is a single-piece, with no accessories to pop out during the game play. The design of this bat fits all players and enables them to focus on the game.

Pros

Affordable price
Features vibration dampening cup
Comfortable handle perfect for younger players

Cons

Handle padding does not come heavy-duty

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.

Orange Bowl “a bitter taste” for Clemson, ACC

Streaking down the middle of the field, West Virginia’s Darwin Cook flipped momentum of an Orange Bowl on pace for a basketball score into as one-sided a contest as possible…

It was apparent all too early – Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele’s defense wasn’t stopping anything, but like wins against Maryland earlier this season, or even UNC – the offense matching the output step-for-step would take the spotlight off.

It wasn’t to be.

A great strip of Tigers running back Andre Ellington and then heads-up play by the Mountaineers’ Cook to take the ball from the goal-line and run it to the opposite goal-line for the score changed the game – the Tigers were rattled, West Virginia hitting them with an early big blow.

Then, twin turnovers by Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, a fumble and interception in the final 2:05 of the first half, sealed it – allowing West Virginia to post 49 first-half points to break a bowl record.

Just like that, only 30 minutes in – the expected shootout was a massacre.

The Tigers, and especially quarterback Tajh Boyd, knew exactly what they were up against in the Mountaineers’ offense – there was little room for error.

West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen twisted the knife in the second half too – leaving in starting QB Geno Smith late into the game to break the BCS record of 6 touchdown passes while hitting 31-of-42 attempts for 401 yards (first 400-yard passing yard game in Orange Bowl history).

Up 63-26 in the fourth quarter, Holgorsen was calling playaction passes – really.

But I digress, calling a 70-33 loss a catastrophic embarrassment can only be an understatement.

Boyd completed 24-of-46 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and interceptions each – sacked three times, but most of those came late in a very desperate time down big. For most of the game, he had solid protection.

His receivers suffered from drops aplenty – including usually reliable options, wide receiver Jaron Brown and tight end Dwayne Allen.

His running back Andre Ellington had a career-game with 10 attempts for 116 rushing yards (68 coming on one touchdown rush) in the first half, but due to the score, Ellington didn’t have one second-half carry.

Ellington’s fumble changed the game, but honestly, the way West Virginia moved the ball – a score there probably wouldn’t have changed the result.

You can’t win big games with that caliber of defensive play – much like the Clemson offense needed an overhaul post -2010, Tigers coach Dabo Swinney will face the same pressure from the Clemson faithful to do something – anything to fix the defense. However they do it, Swinney vowed more than once postgame that another Orange Bowl drought (30 years between last two) is not about to happen under his watch.

“Tonight is a bitter taste,” Swinney said. “Really disappointing to our fans, especially those that traveled down here. Just so disappointing for us to play like we played.

“But we’ll be back.”

Maybe they will, but if West Virginia’s back too, it’ll be déjà vu all over again with the current staff.

The Orange Bowl was just an apropos rotten tomato atop the ACC bowls – finishing 2-6 overall and falling to 2-13 in BCS games. If there was any mistaking it before, this is not a good football conference right now – and I’m not sure when it will be.

2011-12 ACC Pick’Em: Sugar & Orange

With my day job, I’m live in Miami, which turns out to be a lot of work (and some play) – either way, my keys to the ACC BCS bowls were published in Southern Pigskin…

Sugar: Jan. 3 – Virginia Tech (11-2) vs. Michigan (10-2), 8:30 ET

Will Virginia Tech play like they deserve this bowl game?

That’s the critical question, after its BCS bowl bid was highly-questioned in the wake of a 38-10 loss to Clemson in the ACC Championship Game.

No matter who deserves it – we could be in store for a good one between Michigan’s rushing attack, fueled by junior quarterback Denard Robinson, and Virginia Tech’s running game of its own, anchored by junior running back David Wilson.

Robinson rushed for 1,163 yards and 16 touchdowns – passed for 2,056 yards, 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions this season. He was joined in the 1,000 yard rusher club by junior RB Fitzgerald Toussaint (1,098 yards), who punched in 10 scores as well.

The Wolverines started and finished strong this season – taking six-straight to open it up and wins over three bowl teams down the stretch (at Illinois, Nebraska and Ohio State).

If it wasn’t for Clemson, I guess Virginia Tech would be undefeated – losing 23-3 in Blacksburg and 38-10 in Charlotte to the Tigers. The constant in the two losses was Clemson just dominating the Hokies’ offensive line, first, in the second half of game one, and the whole game in part two.

While we’re dwelling on the negative, we’d be remiss to not mention Virginia Tech’s last BCS stint, a 40-12 loss to Stanford in the Orange Bowl in 2010. The Hokies had no running game to speak of (34 carries for 66 yards) , and Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck eviscerated the defense for 4 touchdown passes and running backs Stepfan Taylor/Jeremy Stewart combined for 213 rushing yards in the blowout.

Hokies wide receiver Danny Coale talked at ACC media days this July about that loss: “Sure, you sit back and thinks sometimes – what happened? But then you remember that’s a great team. We just simply didn’t play well enough. It’s embarrassing when you lose and you’re representing the ACC in a big-time game like that.”

Coale and the Hokies, though not in the ACC’s champion bowl, get another shot in New Orleans on Tuesday to prove skeptics wrong this season and uphold the conference reputation.

Michigan’s defensive prowess isn’t encouraging for that cause though – 6th in passing defense and 35th in rushing defense against some solid competition. If the Hokies can channel what they got offensively and defensively against Virginia (38-0 win), they win, pure and simple, but I need to see the Hokies do it on this stage before I pick it.

Pick: Michigan 27-21

Orange: Jan. 4 – Clemson (10-3) vs. West Virginia (9-3), 8:30 ET

There will be points.

Both the ACC and Big East champs feature newly-installed spread-‘em-out and pick-‘em-apart offenses, but from different branches of the scheme.

Clemson’s attack is run-centered, inspired by Gus Malzahn, but with Chad Morris’ spin on it.

West Virginia’s is all about the passing game, inspired by Mike Leach/Hal Mumme under head coach Dana Holgorsen – quarterback Geno Smith averaging 40.25 attempts for 331.5 yards per game with 25 touchdowns to 7 interceptions this season.

Still developing the o-line and armed with weapons like freshman receiver Sammy Watkins, the Tigers chucked it around the field quite a bit this season too – breaking single-season school records for passing yards (284.77), total offense (440.62) and points (33.62) per game.

West Virginia punched its ticket to Miami by way of a three-way tie in the Big East – ranking highest in the BCS of the three (Cincinnati and Louisville the others).

Clemson started 8-0, but stumbled into the ACC Championship Game with three losses in four games. But their odd dominance over Virginia Tech continued in the ACC Championship Game after a 23-3 win in Blacksburg earlier this season – forcing an early turnover and rolling downhill all game to a 38-10 blowout victory.

The Mountaineers will show a different look defensively than Clemson has seen this season with a 3-3-5 formation (27th nationally in total defense). Tigers struggled down the stretch with teams dropping more into coverage and forcing quarterback Tajh Boyd to pick them apart (in part, due to his o-line struggling with holding down the opposing d-line with injuries). WVU’s Bruce Irvin and Julian Miller could both give Clemson some struggles in the pass rush.

The Tigers have, on the whole, contained the passing game, but still were quite susceptible to the big play. West Virginia will test that – twin 1,000 yard receivers (Stedman Bailey, 1,197 yards/11 TDs and Tavon Austin, 1,063 yards/4 TDs), and an offense that hit nine different targets in a game five times this season.

What we saw with Clemson this season is if they can protect Boyd and limit turnovers – the points will come. They’re facing one of the more impressive offenses nationally, but best v. best, I give a slight edge to the Tigers.

I tend to think both will start a little slow – doing a bit too much, but once the game settles down, the offenses will find their footing and make this an entertaining game. Clemson just makes a couple more plays to pull it out.

Pick: Clemson 34-31

Rest of the staff picks: J.J. Greenstein – Virginia Tech 28-26, Clemson 31-20; Griffin Wong – Michigan 31-27, Clemson 38-34.

(ACC Pick’em on the season: Brandon Rink – 71-32, J.J. Greenstein – 73-30, Griffin Wong – 75-28)

ATS Section (42-43-2 to date)

New Year’s Eve was forgettable for the ACC/my picks – one last gasp in the BCS bowls…

Michigan -3 vs. Virginia Tech

Take to Bank %: 10%

Clemson -3 vs. WVU

Take to Bank %: 15%

Check us out live in Miami for the Orange Bowl both at @accblogger on Twitter and OrangeandWhite.com for a live chat during the game!

State survives Central’s scare

It was throw back day in Raleigh as NC State (6-3) hosted local North Carolina Central (5-5, 1-0 MEAC) at historic Reynold’s Coliseum Sunday afternoon. Popcorn and hot dogs were just a dollar and posters commemorating the 1983 National Championship team were handed out before and after the game.

But it was a throw back of the NC State teams from the late 2000’s that showed up for most of the second half of State’s 65-60 win.

State started strong, shutting Central out for the first six and half minutes of the game and jumping out to an early 9-0 lead, but State could not pull away from the Eagles, allowing them to hang around until the final horn.

After holding a double-digit lead for most of the game (led 37-27 at the half), the Pack started to get sloppy on both ends of the floor, using an ineffective 2-3 zone for most of the second half on defense while turning the ball over 16 times and shooting a low percentage (37%) on the offensive end.

State allowed the Eagles, who entered the game with the number two scoring offense in the country at almost 89 points per game, to cut the lead all the way down to three in the final minute, but four late free throws from sophomore Scott Wood, who is perfect on the season from the charity stripe, helped the Pack escape with the win.

Wood finished with 19 points, hitting five of his nine three-point attempts in 38 minutes. As a team, the Pack only made seven of their 23 attempts from three point land, and their inability to knock down outside shots has really hurt them so far this season.

State’s lone senior, C.J. Williams, led all scorers with a career-high 21 points. He also pulled down five of the Wolfpack’s 34 rebounds. Junior Richard Howell, who played only 27 minutes due to foul trouble, was the only other State player to score in double-figures, finishing with 11 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

Sophomores Lorenzo Brown and Calvin Leslie both struggled to score, finishing with one and three points, respectively. Brown finished 0-7 from the floor but still managed to quarterback the offense nicely with six of the Pack’s 15 assists.

The Pack has a week off to prepare for their toughest test of the year, as Syracuse will come in to a sold out RBC Center Saturday evening. State pushed Syracuse to the brink last season at the Carrier Dome, eventually falling 65-59 to the then eighth ranked Orange.

The Orange should be the top-ranked team in the country when they get to Raleigh following losses by number two Ohio State to Kansas and then number one Kentucky to Indiana- a team the Pack led by seven late in the second half before falling apart a couple weeks ago.

State’s out of conference schedule has been very tough, but these games turn into learning experiences for a young Pack squad learning how to win under a new coaching staff. The strength of schedule for the Pack (deemed the 18th toughest schedule in the country by Rating Percentage Index), and the six wins, has the Pack at an RPI of 57- that’s higher than at any point all of last season.

The RBC Center should be rocking Saturday, and I expect Coach Mark Gottfried to have the Pack ready to play tough for a full 40 minutes against the Orange, who will be playing their first game this season outside the state of New York.

ACC in 2011 College World Series Breakdown, Pt. 6

We’ll see a battle of lefty aces Friday night – UVa’s Danny Hultzen vs. SC’s Michael Roth (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

After entering seven teams – three of them national seeds and five hosts…the ACC’s down to No. 1 national seed Virginia, and they have to beat the defending champs twice to advance on…

No. 1 Virginia (56-11) vs. No. 4 South Carolina (52-14)

South Carolina scouting report

Notable: They’ve won 13 straight NCAA Tournament games – tied for an NCAA record after beating Virginia 7-1 on Tuesday night. Looking at this year’s tourney, their closest games were the opener with Georgia Southern with a 2-1 win and the walkoff over Texas A&M, 5-4 on Sunday. Four of the five other victories were by six runs. Basically, they’re dominating this tournament. SC ace Michael Roth will take the mound on four days’ rest as the Gamecocks go for the jugular tonight. Roth pitched 7 1/3 innings with four unearned runs, eight strikeouts and five walks on 124 pitches in a no-decision against TAMU Sunday.

Top Bats: 1B Christian Walker (.358 avg/10 HR/62 RBI), 2B Scott Wingo (.345 avg/4 HR/28 RBI, C Brady Thomas (.313 avg/4 HR/40 RBI), CF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.264 avg/6 HR/27 RBI).

Top Available Arms: LHP Michael Roth (13-3/0.97 ERA), RHP Forrest Koumas (6-1, 3.13 ERA), RHP Matt Price (6-3, 2.12 ERA, 18 saves), RHP Jose Mata (3-0, 1.76 ERA), RHP John Taylor (7-1/1.17 ERA).

Virginia Notes: A 4-run sixth inning broke it open for the ‘Hoos to the 8-1 W to eliminate Cal from the CWS. Captain starter Tyler Wilson gave Virginia all they needed and more with 7.2 IP/5 H/1 R/1 ER/5 K/0 BB. Cody Winiarski shut it down with 1 1/3 IP of one-hit ball. Ace Danny Hultzen will get the ball for the ‘Hoos after going 6 1/3 IP of three-hit ball and six strikeouts in a no-decision against Cal last Sunday. Looking at guys who SC shut down – but recovered yesterday…LF John Barr was 0/3 against the Gamecocks, but was 1/4 with 2 RBI Thursday. CF Kenny Swab went 0-for-3 as well and was 2/5 with a run scored on a quasi-inside-the-park-HR. 2B Keith Werman had a big day too with a 2/2 for an RBI day.

Projections

(Picks in bold)

Friday (Starters)

6/24 Virginia (LHP Danny Hultzen, 12-3/1.41 ERA) vs. South Carolina (Michael Roth, 13-3/0.97 ERA), 7 p.m., ESPN.

Why SC?: Well, the whole picking against them thing hasn’t worked out so well. But you really can’t ask for more here – two of the best lefty pitchers in college baseball squaring off in an elimination game. Albeit, just for Virginia, but should be great anyway. The ‘Hoos couldn’t have played worse on Tuesday against the Gamecocks – they’ll be better tonight. I don’t think I’m stretching here when I say this is a lot more likely to be one of the 1-run games and not the 6-run romps that the Gamecocks have had this postseason. We’ll see if I have another one of these things to write tomorrow.

Your pick?

ACC in 2011 College World Series Breakdown, Pt. 5

No. 1 UVa (55-11) vs. Cal (38-22)

Cal scouting report

Notable: Cal kicked their offense into gear Tuesday with seven runs combined in the fifth, sixth and seventh to win 7-3 and eliminate Texas A&M from the CWS. Second baseman Derek Campbell went 2-for-4 with two RBI on the game. The Golden Bears are going with right-hander Dixon Anderson – who last started against Rice in the Houston Regional with 4 2/3 IP/2 H/3 R/1 ER/3BB/4 K.

Top Bats: 2B/DH Tony Renda (.333 avg/3 HR/43 RBI), LF Austin Booker (.310/24 RBI), C Chadd Krist (.297 avg/43 RBI), SS Marcus Simien (.279 avg/5 HR/35 RBI [6 RBI this postseason]), 1B Devon Rodriguez (.283 avg/5 HR/35 RBI).

Virginia hopes to be doing more of this today. (Pic per OrangeandWhite.com).

Top Arms: RHP Erik Johnson (7-4, 2.83 ERA), RHP Kevin Miller (6-4, 2.78 ERA), RHP Matt Flemer (4-2, 1.86 ERA, 6 saves).

Virginia Notes: Fielding errors, bad swings, a little bad luck and the defending champs happened to the Hoos on Tuesday night. Virginia had to pull Will Roberts early and use long reliever/fourth starter Cody Winiarski for a couple innings. Today’s starter Tyler Wilson pitched 2 1/3 innings with one run allowed on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks in the opener versus Cal to get the win.

Projections

(Picks in bold)

Thursday (Starters)

6/23 Virginia (RHP Tyler Wilson, 9-0/2.33 ERA) vs. Cal (RHP Dixon Anderson, 4-3/3.90 ERA), 7 p.m., ESPN2.

Why Virginia?: I checked, and double-checked – Cal is not in the SEC East. So, the ‘Hoos have that going for them. Wilson is a bulldog pitcher who’ll pull Virginia through to a rematch with South Carolina.