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Wake Forest vs NC State: Key Matchup

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Where do the Deacs have an advantage against the Pack?

NCAA Basketball: Wake Forest at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

By this point in the season, everyone knows that the NC State player to watch is Dennis Smith Jr, who is currently averaging 18.8 points, 6.9 assists, and 4.5 rebounds per game. He is also the only player in the nation with 2 triple doubles this season. Since we’ve already played (and beaten) the Pack this season, its time to look back and see what matchup the Deacs can exploit to pick up a season sweep.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that John Collins is going to be featured here, as he has been on fire recently for Wake Forest. Against the Wolfpack in early January, Collins scored 21 points on 8-11 shooting, picked up 9 rebounds (4 offensive), and got to the free throw line 6 times. His primary defenders, Omer Yurtseven and Beejay Anya, played just 27 minutes total and picked up 9 fouls combined, with Yurtseven fouling out.

Yurtseven fouls 3.2 times per game in the conference in just 21 minutes, and he couldn’t defend Collins in the post without fouling him. He picked up his second foul with about 8 minutes in the first half. Anya, who averages 2.3 fouls in just under 12 minutes, didn’t fair much better. He picked up his second foul about 2 minutes after he came into the game.

With Yurtseven and Anya on the bench in foul trouble, the Pack and had to go small and play Abu at center. Advantage: Collins.

Not only does this allow Collins to dominate the boards, but a simple pick and roll puts Abu on Crawford and no one with any chance of making a play on Collins. In that scenario, Crawford can just throw the ball high into the air where only Collins can catch it, and hes in position to make an easy basket.

Maverick Rowan is in good position to help here, but he literally has no chance because he just bounces right off Collins. Abu is able to recover and contest the shot, but it really doesn’t matter once Collins has it that deep in the paint.

The Bottom Line

The Wolfpack don’t have very much depth on the interior, and neither Yurtseven nor Anya can defend John Collins effectively without fouling. Feeding the ball to Collins early and often (besides being what we should do pretty much every game anyways) will put a lot of pressure on the Pack bigs and likely put them on the bench with foul trouble. With both of them riding the pine, there is no one that can stop Collins from absolutely dominating the paint. Potentially the only thing that can stop Collins in this game is foul trouble, seeing that he did foul out against NC State last time around (albeit there were only 8 seconds left in the game when he did).