Syracuse looks to pick up its fifth road win in the ACC tonight. That feat alone seems good enough to get the Orange into the tournament. While NC State only owns a 5-6 record in the conference, the Wolfpack do provide some challenges for the Orange in all facets. State has also fluctuated in and out of the rankings in recent weeks. In the latest Top 25, neither team got any votes by AP voters and NC State edged out Syracuse by three points in the Coaches Poll. Here are the five numbers you need to know about this matchup.
The Pack haul down 13.9 offensive rebounds per game. That’s good for tenth in the country and second in the ACC, behind Duke. You may think that Syracuse having the tallest team in the country would help for situations like this, right? Think again. Syracuse ranks 210th in the country in defensive rebounding and has a -0.6 rebounding margin, which is 225th in the nation. The 2-3 zone causes a lot of misses. But it means nothing if teams can capitalize on second and (dare I say) third chance opportunities.
Everyone wants to crown Nevada as “Transfer U.” But that title, at least on the east coast, belongs to NC State. The Pack have had nine guy start their careers at different schools. Only three guys on the roster played against SU last year. Those players are Torin Dorn, Markell Johnson and Braxton Beverley. The good news about this for Syracuse is that some of them, like 5-star Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones, are not eligible to play because of transfer rules. The bad part? The three that did play all started and made meaningful plays in the game.
The Wolfpack can pour it on. They average 82.1 points per game. And that number INCLUDES the extreme 24 point clunker performance against Virginia Tech. This team revolves around offense. It’s not just three or four guys that can score. The whole team can. The Pack get 31.3 points per game from their bench alone. They have depth, as evidenced by six players averaging at least 8.5 points per game. But if it’s not their night, then they can really struggle. This game could certainly come down to which team dictates the pace. Will it be the up-tempo Wolfpack or the slow-it-down Orange?
NC State’s winning percentage at home is pretty good. They’ve been great at PNC Arena en route to a 12-3 record in Raleigh. But that winning percentage dips to .400 (2-3) when it plays ACC opponents. That record could just as easily be 1-4 if not for a miracle comeback against Clemson, where NC State trailed by 6 with 35 seconds left and reeled off a comeback fueled by Tigers’ Marcquise Reed’s four missed free throws in the final 13 seconds.
NC State has only beaten Syracuse once at PNC Arena. But that game might have to come with an asterisk next to it. It came back in 2015 just a day removed from the NCAA handing down sanctions to the Orange and SU self-imposing a postseason ban. The game literally meant nothing for Syracuse, who was reeling at the time anyway. The Orange is 3-1 all-time in Raleigh.