NCAA tournament team previews: North Carolina State Wolfpack

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Fast Breaks: (8) NC State vs. (9) LSU preview
Monday March 16th, 2015

As part of its preview of the 2015 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from Adjusted offense and defense are from and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team’s national rank. For more teams, click here.

Record: 20-13(10-8 in ACC)
RPI/SOS: 41/9
Adjusted offensive/defensive efficiency: 111.5 (30th)/98.2 (89th)
Seed: No. 8 in East

Impact player: Trevor Lacey, junior, guard: 15.8 ppg, 39.8 3-pt FG%, 115.2 O-rating

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The Case For: The Wolfpack have been one of the nation's most enigmatic teams this season, but when they are at their best they are capable of beating almost anyone. They dominated Duke in Raleigh on Jan. 11, won at Louisville and North Carolina and enter the NCAA tournament having won six of eight. Lacey and fellow guard Ralston Turner (37.6% from beyond the arc) give N.C. State a pair of deep threats that can keep it in any game or ignite a comeback.

The real key for the Pack, though, is sophomore point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber. Over the past 11 games he has averaged 16 points per game while shooting 47.5% from three-point range and posting a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio, compared to 10 ppg, 25% from three and 1.72 assists for every turnover before that. Barber is one of the fastest guards in the country, and he is capable to guiding N.C. State to an upset or two.

Trevor Lacey
Gerry Broome/AP

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The Case Against: The Pack isn't at all disruptive on defense, ranking 341st among 351 Division I teams in turnover percentage and 346th in steal percentage. Without forcing miscues N.C. State will have to hope that opponents simply aren't shooting well. If they are, the Wolfpack will have a short stay in the Big Dance. N.C. State also must get something from its frontcourt to avoid being dominated in the paint. Beejay Anya, Abdul Malik-Abu and Kyle Washington are all at least 6'8" but they combine for just 17.4 points and 13.1 rebounds despite each playing at least 18 minutes per game. 

Only one team in the field has more losses than the Wolfpack's 13, and while they have a trio of impressive wins, they also lost at home to Wofford and suffered losses to two teams that rank below the top 100 on—to Wake Forest in early February and, at the end of the month, an inexplicable 16-point embarrassment at Boston College. Add in defeats to Cincinnati, Purdue and West Virginia and it's not hard to see the Wolfpack heading home early from the NCAAs.

SI prediction: Beat LSU in Round of 64, lose to Villanova in Round of 32

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