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The Pack Visits Tonight!

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This season, whenever we can, we are trading previews with
other ACC websites. For the State game, we swapped previews with our buddy
Campbell "better not call me Willie" Lowman aka T-Dub, who runs 
Our Duke preview  is posted on his site. He's absolutely right - this is a
huge game for State, so you Crazies need to be in rare form. Now, without
further ado, T-Dub's take!

Wednesday night is the first ACC showdown of the season, with a twist.
While Duke is a seemingly constant participant in major ACC battles, NC
State appears for the first time in longer than most Wolfpack fans care to
think about. Just one year ago, Herb Sendek's third team slogged through a
disappointing season. Many questioned the direction of the program. To be
playing for first place in the ACC this early in the season has taken many
Wolfpackers by surprise. Do not be mistaken: This is a BIG game for NC
State fans, players, and coaches.

Duke's accomplishments this season have been nothing short of
phenomenal. After devastating personnel losses last spring, the Devils have
sprinted to the lead of the ACC, winning three tough road games in the
process. That Duke has accomplished so much is a testament to Mike
Krzyzewski's significant abilities as a coach. From a technical perspective,
Duke has done many things well under Krzyzewski, but perhaps the most
impressive component of Duke basketball is the intensity the Devils bring
to the court. Whether Duke plays for the national championship or against
the Southeastern Technical School for the Blind, the teams wants to whip
the opponent into submission. Every game. Duke teams seem incensed at being
forced to share the court with opponents. This admirable intensity
increases in the cozy confines of Cameron. It is in this environment that
NC State must play the best game of the year to earn a win against an old
backyard rival.

On paper, the teams are very similar. Both teams run a motion offense.
Both play tenacious halfcourt defense, and will run if given the
opportunity. Both feature versatile, athletic players that can play several
positions. The latter plays a huge role in Duke's success this season.
While only playing 6 players as part of the regular rotation, 3 of whom are
freshmen, the veteran trio of Battier, James, and Carrawell is very
effective. Most teams only have two consistent scorers, and Carrawell and
Battier have been successful at shutting down the opposition's big guns.
Once this is accomplished, Nate James can cause his usual damage in the
passing lanes and on the boards.

A closer analysis of the matchups show many in Duke's favor. The best
Justin Gainey can hope for is to play Jason Williams even. Anthony Grundy
will be smothered by Carrawell, and have difficulty scoring 30 points as he
did on Sunday. Battier will draw Damon Thornton, the Pack's most consistent
inside scorer. Boozer will have a size advantage on Kenny Inge. Damien
Wilkins and Nate James are a toss up.

To win, the Pack must execute the halfcourt offense and not get rattled.
It's extremely important not to get blown away in the opening minutes,
something that's happened the last two years in Cameron. Equally important,
the team defense must cause Duke some problems, and jar the Devils out of
the intense focus with which they play. Defensively, State matches up
pretty well against Duke.

Given the way the two teams play defense, a low scoring game seems
likely. Every possession will count, and the teams must depend on some wild
cards to decide the outcome. Duke's unknown is Mike Dunleavy. The rail thin
6-9 shooting guard has shown flashes of brilliance thus far, and State
doesn't really have anyone who can guard him. At the same time, Dunleavy
will have trouble guarding anyone on State's team. For the Pack, Kenny Inge
and Ron Kelley must step up, especially on offense. Damon Thornton will
have his hands full with Battier and Boozer, and Inge and Kelley need to
pick up the slack and produce. Another key for NC State is Marshall
Williams. Williams has an amazing combination of size, speed, and
quickness, and has given opposing offenses headaches with his defense. Once
on the break, he's arguably the Pack's best finisher Should Gainey and
Grundy have trouble with Jason Wiliams, look for Marshall to step up to the

Another issue is stamina. Duke's biggest weakness is depth, while the
Pack can easily go 11 deep. Cameron's heat can drain players, but the
Wolfpack bench will offset it to a certain degree. Look for Herb to try to
keep the pressure on and steal some first half minutes with Cliff Crawford,
Cornellius Williams, and Arch Miller. If Duke tires, the team will have to
rely even more on the 9,000 plus in attendance to offset State's superior

The last issue is the intangibles. Duke is looking to tie the record for
consecutive ACC wins, currently held by David Thompson's NC State teams.
Duke certainly isn't lacking for motivation, but the win streak is another
source of focus. NC State has played hungry all season, and has added
motivation after being snubbed in the polls this week. Duke is out to prove
the team is one of the most dominant in ACC history. NC State is out to
prove the team belongs in the upper tier of the ACC. To do so, Herb's
hungry pack of wolves must storm the gates of Cameron. It should be quite a