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NC State meets No. 2 Duke in an ACC battle on Saturday night from Durham. The two rivals from The Triangle are meeting for the first time this season. The Wolfpack have won two straight after losing three straight. They own a 37 Net Ranking and are 6-6 in the ACC to rank eighth in the league. That could still be good enough to get in the NCAA Tournament, as they are considered the No. 9 seed in the latest DRatings.com Bracketology. Duke is a mortal lock for the tournament and a No. 1 seed, barring a ton of key injuries. They are coming off one of the most remarkable comebacks in recent memory, defeating Louisville on Tuesday, 71-69, after being down by 23 on the road with 9:58 left in the game.
Bouncing back from an embarrassing run
NC State lost three straight games from Jan. 29-Feb. 5. They fell to Virginia at home in overtime, 66-65, which is far from an embarrassing loss. But the low point of the season came on Feb. 2 when the Wolfpack set a historic low for points in the shot clock era after a 47-24 loss at home to Virginia Tech on Feb. 2. They followed that with putting up 96 points at North Carolina, but losing by 17. They came back to earth with a 79-76 road win over Pittsburgh on Feb. 9. In their last outing, they crushed Syracuse, 73-58 at home on Feb. 13.
In their win over the Orange, Braxton Beverly led NC State with 21 points, while Torin Dorn added 16 points and 12 rebounds. NC State shot 49 percent from the floor (5-18 3pt) and outrebounded the Orange by nine. They also held Syracuse to just 35 percent shooting and 5-of-25 from beyond the arc. The Wolfpack go about eight deep right now. Guard Eric Lockett (5ppg, 3.3rpg) and guard Blake Harris (3.3ppg) are both questionable for tonight’s game. Lockett missed the Syracuse game due to illness and Harris missed the last two games for personal reasons.
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 14, 2019
On the season, NC State averages 81.8 points per game to rank third in the ACC and 25th in the nation. That makes that Virginia Tech game even more confounding. They shoot 47.1 percent from the floor and 36.7 percent from beyond the arc. They allow 70 points per game on 43.6 percent shooting (29.9% 3pt). Dorne leads the Wolfpack with 13.7 points per game and 6.8 rebounds.
Another feat for Coach K
Duke was down by 23 midway through the second half against the No. 16 team in the nation. Zion Williamson, a favorite for National Player of the Year, was struggling with foul trouble and Louisville was getting ready to party with the rest of the students.
“Panic isn’t the right word, but we lost confidence and we just looked bad,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski explained. “I told my team, ‘You’re not losers, but you’re playing like losers.'”
Pressure. In basketball, it gets the best of them but it also stands for a defense that some teams use all game. Others only use a “press” in dire need and that was the case for the Blue Devils. They were getting crushed but they had Williams (6-7, 285), R.J. Barrett (6-7, 202) and Cam Reddish (6-8, 218, 7-1 wingspan). Great players but also very long and athletic. They also had one of the nation’s top defensive guards in Tre Jones (6-2, 183) but the player that really inspired the squad was little-used sophomore Jordan Goldwire. He only played 12 minutes but his defense (two steals) helped Duke gain the confidence to get back in the game. It didn’t hurt that the Cardinals panicked, turning it over 13 times in the second half to make up for a poor offensive performance by Duke (36.5% FG).
🤔🤔 Best comeback???? 🤫😱👀🤯
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) February 13, 2019
Williamson, who was playing with four fouls during the last 10 minutes, had 27 points and 12 boards, while Reddish added 22. He made just 4-of-14 from the three-point line but his the biggest trey down the stretch. He also converted two free throws to win the game with 14.9 seconds left.
The Blue Devils, who have won eight straight games, are led by Barrett’s 22.7 points per game. Williamson leads in rebounds (9.3rpg), field goal percentage (68%), steals (2.2) and blocks (2.0). On offense, Duke ranks fifth in the nation in scoring (86.1ppg), 25th in field goal percentage (48.4%) and 306th in three-point percentage (31.6%). They allow just 65.6 points per game (42nd) on 38.7 percent shooting (17th) and 29.7 percent three-point shooting (17th).
- 17-8 ATS last 25 home games.
- 14-6-1 ATS last 21 after an ATS loss.
NC State is:
- 10-2 Over last 12 road games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Duke played a poor 30 minutes against Louisville and they played an incredible last 10 because they had to scramble being down 23 points. NC State has had some success in recent times against the Blue Devils. In fact, they have won the last two games outright. Don’t think that Coach K won’t remind his players, even though many were freshmen and didn’t play. Duke is a dominant team coming off a great comeback win but they will be focused at home because they will be reminded of their first 30 minutes against Louisville. This will get ugly early because the Wolfpack just don’t match up. Most teams don’t.
Full-Game Total Pick
Duke does play defense but they can also play uptempo basketball, ranking 28th in the nation in pace of play. NC State has put up an average of 82.7 points per game since scoring 24 against Virginia Tech. This is a talented offensive team that averages nearly 80 points on the road and they shoot 38.3 percent from the field. Duke averages 88 points at home and NC State allows 83 points on the road. Take the over.