RBC Center – Raleigh, NC
6 p.m. CST, Monday night
In March of 1974, Al McGuire's Marquette Warriors met top-ranked N.C. State, led by All-American scoring sensation David Thompson, in the NCAA Championship Game. What ensued was a frustrating twelve point loss for MU, epitomized by McGuire's two technical fouls and subsequent ejection from the game.
When Marquette makes the trip to Raleigh to play the Wolfpack Monday night, the now-Golden Eagles will seek a different outcome from the 74' Championship game. But they can't help but to be reminded of it, as N.C. State's championship team will be remembered at halftime.
Aside from all the historic nostalgia, Monday night's game promises to be an entertaining affair which pairs two potential NCAA threats with dissimilar strengths against one another.
While Marquette features a guard-oriented lineup that prefers to get up and down the court quickly, the Wolfpack have multiple skilled players with size and play with a slower tempo. Like Marquette, however, N.C. State is led by a trio of experienced players – junior forward Brendon Costner, senior center Ben McCauley, and senior guard Courtney Fells – who account for most of the team's offensive production.
The trio has been vital to N.C. State's promising start to the season. The Wolfpack are undefeated at home (6-0), are allowing an ACC-best 58.4 points per game. Their one loss came at the hands of Stephen Curry and Davidson, 67-72. Other than that game, the Wolfpack have not really been tested by a highly-touted opponent and their guard play has been suspect at times.
Not helping these troubles in the backcourt has been a bit of an injury bug that has bothered N.C. State. Fells was out for a recent two game stretch with an ankle sprain ( he returned for Saturday's 78-58 win over Lipscomb) and sophomore Javier Gonzalez missed the Wolfpack's last game (Saturday) with an elbow injury. Fells is expected to play Monday night, but Gonzalez' status remains in question.
Expect N.C. State to try and attack Marquette with their "aircraft carriers", as Coach McGuire would say, and feed Costner and McCauley early and often while also trying to mix in their complementary big men, freshman Tracy Smith and junior Dennis Horner. Especially important for N.C. State, though, is the play of Fells. They need him to be the orchestrator on the floor. If he is less than 100 percent others will need to step up at the guard position including junior Trevor Ferguson and freshman Julius Mays.
Probable Wolfpack Starters
G – Courtney Fells (6'6" 210 lbs.) --- (11.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
G – Trevor Ferguson (6'5" 190 lbs.) --- (8.3 ppg, 2.3 apg)
F – Brandon Costner (6'9" 230 lbs.) --- (13 ppg, 8.4 rpg)
F – Simon Harris (6'5" 239 lbs.) --- (2.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg)
C – Ben McCauley (6'9" 237 lbs.) --- (15.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg)
F – Tracy Smith (6'8" 240 lbs.) --- (8.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G- Julius Mays (6'2" 188 lbs.) --- (3.9 ppg, 2.3 apg)
Head Coach – Sidney Lowe (44-33, third season)