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NC State

Test lies ahead for NC State

Posted January 29, 2013
Updated January 30, 2013

The Pack has downed rivals North Carolina and Duke, but its next four games will be its toughest test of the season.

NC State holds regular season wins over North Carolina and Duke for the first time in a nearly a decade. The shadow of a 13-game losing streak to the rival Tar Heels is officially lifted, with the Wolfpack bouncing back from the embarrassing loss at Wake Forest earlier in the week.

But the real test for this team starts on Tuesday and stretches over four games through the next two weeks – it’s the toughest stretch of games the Pack will play during the whole regular season.

Four teams in the league currently have winning records – the Pack will play the other three of them over the next two weeks starting with a trip to Virginia. Then its Miami at home, unbeaten in the ACC so far this season and on a tear after blowing out both Duke and Florida State at home this past week. After that? Just a visit to Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Pack ends the stretch with its ‘easiest’ game on paper as it travels to Clemson, but the Tigers nearly upset the Pack in PNC earlier this season and State hasn’t won at Littlejohn Coliseum since Herb Sendek’s final year.

These are the games that turn a season one way or another. Wins against Duke and Carolina are great for a variety of reasons – team confidence, NCAA seeding, national publicity – but they were both won on the Pack’s home turf. Winning on the road is what will ultimately decide who walks away with the regular season title this year.

Miami sits at the top of the league because they’ve gone on the road three times and won. The Pack, Duke and Virginia are trailing the Hurricanes by two games in the standings because they can’t win on the road. Those three teams are a combined 2-6 on the road in league play, and Duke has yet to win a true road game this season after losses to the Pack and Miami. N.C. State Logo More NCSU Stories

Make no mistake, the potential for the first losing streak of the season comes in this series of games. Last season, the Pack had a similar stretch of games which started with the collapse at Cameron and spiraled into a four-game losing streak before the Pack managed to right the ship with a home win against Miami. Obviously this is a better and more experienced team, but it’s not immune from a repeat of last year’s losing streak. First up for the Pack is Virginia, possibly the most frustrating team in the league to play – especially for a team like Gottfried’s squad that will want to get out in transition. Simply put, Virginia will not let the Pack get out and run. They aren’t going to turn it over, they aren’t going to let guys leak out on missed shots – they will force the Pack to play a slow, physical game in the half court. The Pack has struggled some in slow-paced games this year, holding a 2-2 record in its four slowest games and the two wins were four-point victories over Connecticut and Clemson.

The Pack needs to find a way to lock down on defense, especially after giving up 50-plus points in the second half against both Wake Forest and the Heels. The offense, even on the road, has been good enough to beat anyone but the Pack’s propensity to give up easy buckets (teams are shooting 46 percent inside the arc this season) is making life too easy on the opposition. If the Pack minimizes the defense lapses and crashes the defensive boards with the same fervor they showed against the Heels, the Pack will become a much more dangerous road team.

The games against Miami, Duke and even Clemson aren’t any easier, but picking up a win in Charlottesville – especially considering the Pack’s history after wins over Duke and Carolina – would be a significant step forward for this team. Even splitting these four games would ultimately be a victory, though Miami’s recent play suggests that falling to 7-4 in the league might put them out of striking distance from the Hurricanes for the regular season title.

The good news is that if the Pack can survive this stretch the sailing gets a little easier in the final seven games of the regular season. Four of its final seven games are at home and none of them come against the current top four in the league standings.

20 Comments

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  • Kenan-FlaglerAlumni Jan 29, 6:33 p.m.

    It truly is sad when you have to celebrate a regular season basketball win at the level where you're making T-shirts. Some people celebrate national championships, others celebrate this :\

  • caearly009 Jan 29, 6:30 p.m.

    Something has got to give. The Pack remains one of the top-scoring offenses in the country and the level of defense the Cavs play makes it frustrating for just about any team they face to score. Even last year's game came down to the last possession or two.

    I think State will be happy to snag a road win however they can. Gooo Pack!

  • Mr. Middle of the Road Jan 29, 6:18 p.m.

    This is a time we need to stand up. We are the hunted now. I know UVa is favored tonight but beating them will go a long way in building our confidence that we deserve to be in the rarified air at the top of the conference. And, even bigger game Saturday with UM. Gooooo Pack!!!

  • swedish.chef Jan 29, 5:52 p.m.

    If mr. showboat Rodney Purvis plays less and mr. consistent T J Warren plays more,4-0 is not out... View More

    — Posted by laytonjlje

    I haven't seen a lot of showboating from Purvis. What exactly were you thinking of?

    And while I agree that Warren can rack up higher numbers, there were several games where he was nowhere to be found. Literally nothing on the stat sheet. I think Warren's defense is his achilles heel as well, he often looks lost out there.

    That said, RP is a guard and Warren a SF, so there's no reason why they both can't play

  • ugottabkiddinme Jan 29, 5:27 p.m.

    If State plays up to its potential, they should beat UVA. State proved last Saturday that... View More

    — Posted by GunnyGoesArrrgh

    state only proved they could handle a evenly matched unranked opponent at home...chapel hill will be a whole lot different

  • GunnyGoesArrrgh Jan 29, 5:23 p.m.

    If mr. showboat Rodney Purvis plays less and mr. consistent T J Warren plays more,4-0 is not out... View More

    — Posted by laytonjlje

    I heard that Leslie isn't feeling well and may be a game time decision. If he's out of the game or not feeling well while playing, it will be harder for State, not insurmountable, but harder.

  • laytonjlje Jan 29, 5:21 p.m.

    If mr. showboat Rodney Purvis plays less and mr. consistent T J Warren plays more,4-0 is not out of the question.

  • Hokies94 Jan 29, 4:56 p.m.

    UVA has the 2nd best defense in allowing points. This will not be an easy game for State at UVA. They make you play their game, and teams simply don't usually get their average points. I had State initially. It will be close.

  • iron fist Jan 29, 4:55 p.m.

    If the three ball is falling for Virginia they will be tough to beat at home. Duke wins, Miami wins FS toss up

  • Hans Jan 29, 4:54 p.m.

    UNC is not our rival.

    — Posted by Barely

    http://gopack.cbscollegestore.com/store_contents.cfm?store_id=465&partner_id=20082&dept_id=19069&product_id=231570

    Obviously not.

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