We found ourselves wondering Friday what would happen if Mike Krzyzewski took over State’s program for a little while.
It’s really interesting when you think about it. All that matador defense? Have a seat. Dennis Smith trying to do to much? A more limited set of instructions. Abdul-Malik Abu flakes out? Have a seat. Omer Yertseven drifts away? Two games in he’d be tomahawk dunking on everyone.
And Beejay Anya. We don't even want to go there.
He has his own team of course and won’t be pitching in to help the Pack, so we get the Pack we’re used to at this point: talented, erratic and unable to live up to the vast potential of Dennis Smith.
State plays Saturday at Wake Forest, and that’s an ancient rivalry. As long as we’re doing mental exercises, try this: what would Triangle basketball be like if Wake Forest had stayed in Wake Forest?
Already a potent rivalry, State and Wake might be a lesser version of Duke-UNC.
The Wolfpack has a tough job Saturday. State was 12-3 when the Pack pounded Virginia Tech 104-78 on January 4th; now the record stands at 14-11.
State coach Mark Gottfried has criticized his team’s defense and desire and that seems reasonable. Florida State didn’t even shoot all that well and missed dunks and layups and still beat State by 24.
Wake is, as we’ve said since last season, a rising team. The Deacs are listed by (at least) Joe Lunardi as a bubble team so the Deacs need to win the games they are supposed to win.
At a minimum, Wake Forest should make the NIT and for many programs, that’s been a great launching pad for a big improvement the following season.
State’s going to have to find a way to slow down John Collins, who has been brilliant lately.
Wake is so close to turning the corner and State seems to be falling apart. You can never rule out a team with a great player like Dennis Smith but Wake has many things Gottfried would envy: they do play hard, they have a great big man and lots of perimeter scoring.
Syracuse plays at Pitt and while the Orange won at Clemson, road wins have been rare this season. Still, both wins have been thrillers: the Clemson game was won on a three point corner shot by Tyus Battle while the State game went into overtime and saw Syracuse win 100-93 with each team hitting a sensational three point shot in the closing seconds of regulation.
Pitt is the mystery team of the ACC. Talented but erratic and prone to losing focus, the Panthers very nearly pulled off a huge upset of UNC recently.
Syracuse has won five straight to turn its season around. This team is still too fragile to predict a win - remember how they let Clemson’s Donte Grantham hit his big shot right in the heart of that vaunted 2-3 zone?
So we’d give Pitt a puncher’s chance here. Speaking of Pitt, here’s a hometown article on how basketball has struggled.
Louisville should have a much better team than it’s had recently: PG Quentin Snyder is back after missing six games due to injury.
Deng Adel and Mangok Mathiang are back too after being suspended at Virginia (Tony Hicks is still out with a broken hand).
Miami is a promising young team and as always superbly coached by Jim Larranaga, but Louisville should be better. The Cards have become a legitimate threat to win the NCAA tournament and Saturday’s game should reflect that.
Finally, Florida State at Notre Dame: Florida State has enough quality depth to steamroll just about anyone while Notre Dame’s is very limited.
Against Wake Forest, the Irish played Temple Gibbs 22 minutes off the bench but Martinas Geben got four minutes, Matt Ryan three and Austin Torres just two.
The bench produced seven points, four assists and two rebounds.
Still, Notre Dame is a tremendously smart team and it wouldn’t be the first time they beat a more talented team now would it?
If Syracuse and Notre Dame win, it’s a major break for Duke. UNC has to be pulling for Notre Dame and then Sunday for Virginia Tech to spring an upset on Virginia.
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