Breakdowns to follow:
Backcourt: Jeff Teague/LD Williams vs Javier Gonzalez/Courtney Fells: Teague is coming off a very impressive 28 in the losing effort at Duke and averages 20.3 on the year. LD is coming off ten points, five rebounds, and one steal. Gonzalez is putting up 5.7 points and 2.9 assists per game, while shooting a solid 41 percent from three. In NC State's last game versus Virginia, Gonzalez put up nine points but had seven turnovers in that game. In that game, Fells was three points under his average at nine points for the game in 31 minutes. Overall, Wake starts a more talented backcourt than NC State.
Frontcourt: James Johnson/Al-Farouq Aminu/Chas McFarland vs Brandon Costner/Tracy Smith/Ben McCauley: Costner and Tracy Smith both had terrific games against Wake Forest. Smith was a load on the offensive boards where he pulled down ten offensively and 12 overall. Costner put up 23 points and nine rebounds. NC State brings a very well-rounded frontcourt. Wake Forest brings two of the more talented wing players in the league in Johnson and Aminu. McFarland has been mostly missing in recent games, only playing 16 minutes and scoring six points against Duke. This category is very close because of how poorly McFarland has been playing, but we give a very slight nod to Wake Forest.
3 PT Shooting: Easily NC State's category. The Wolfpack shoot nearly five percent better as a team and take more three pointers per game than Wake. NC State comes in at 27th in the nation in three point percentage, while Wake barely checks in under 200th.
Free Throws: Both teams shoot slightly above 71 percent from the free throw line. The difference is that Wake Forest gets to the free throw line more often and a larger percentage of their total points come from the stripe. Last game, NC State dominated Wake Forest in this category attempting 15 more and hitting 14 more. This could once again prove to be an important category as noted in Rickman's most recent Startling Statistic.
Rebounding: Tracy Smith was a terror on the offensive glass last game and as a team, NC State is 52nd in the nation in offensive rebounding percentage. This combined with how poorly Wake Forest has kept teams off the offensive glass means this could be a category to keep an eye on. Wake needs to make sure they box out and get the ball before they run.
Defense: Despite the total points Wake gave up in their last game at Duke, they still have a better defense than NC State. The Wolfpack are a very average 138th in the country in defensive efficiency. Wake checks in at 14th in the country for the same category. There was really one stretch of turnovers that made Wake's defense look horrible against Duke. Since their last meeting, Wake Forest has fallen off a little bit in defensive efficiency while NC State has risen, but they are still so far apart Wake takes the category.
Depth: Hit or miss for Wake Forest outside of Ish Smith. Ish has been giving the team very good minutes, slicing through defenses easily in the past few games. NC State comes in 13th in the nation in percentage of bench minutes played, 40 spots higher than any other team in the ACC. Horner is averaging 12 points per game over the last three, and other than that various people have been stepping up for NC State. Last game it was C.J. Williams with 16, in the meeting with Wake in Raleigh it was Farnold Degan who had 14 points.
Coach: After falling flat on their faces with some atrocious ball handling against Duke, Dino's team rallied and cut the deficit to two in the second half. The team could have folded but Dino got the team motivated and they played much better the rest of the game. Lowe's team has been playing better as of late so this category was actually pretty close. But right now Dino has had a good enough year, and losing at Duke isn't the worst loss in the world. Therefore, he takes this category over Sidney who is 5-7 in conference and 15-10 overall.
Intangibles: It all comes down to home and away for this one. Four out of five of Wake's losses have come on the road. Wake plays much more inspired basketball at home, and this game takes place at the Joel. NC State has won two road games the entire year: their first game of the season against New Orleans and then at Georgia Tech. Wake is playing at home and in turn gets this category.
Overall: Though sometimes Wake Forest doesn't look like they are deserving of their ranking and standing, other times Wake still plays like the number one team in the country. NC State has struggled on the road and from top to bottom still lag behind Wake Forest. Wake struggled last time against NC State, which should give State a positive attitude coming into the game, but Wake Forest loves to have something extra to play for and this game is another revenge game. One thing to keep in mind is that NC State mixed up defenses well in their last meeting, and Wake Forest will have to adapt better than they did last time. Teague was neutralized by the box-and-one, which could rear it's head again.