The Wolfpack returns four starters from a team that posted a 24-13 overall record and a 9-7 ACC mark in 2011-12, Gottfried's inaugural season at the Wolfpack helm. Gottfried led his team to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Atlanta and to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.
Perfect In PNC Openers
Since moving from historic Reynolds Coliseum to its new home for the 1999-2000 season, NC State has never lost a home opener at PNC Arena, going a perfect 13-0 to start the season. When it comes to opening the year at home, the Pack's all-time ledger is 81-8. In 103 years of basketball, NC State owns an 89-14 all-time record in season openers.
Since 1994, the Wolfpack is an impressive 18-0 in its first game of the season. NC State's longest opening-game winning streak occurred from 1949-1975, going 27-0 over that span.
Gottfried In Season Openers
NC State's Mark Gottfried is 11-4 as a head coach in season-opening games. In his inaugural game with the Wolfpack, Gottfried posted an 84-75 victory over UNC Asheville.
As head coach at Murray State, Gottfried was 3-0 and during his tenure at Alabama, he sported a 7-4 mark in games to open the year.
Margin of Victory in Home Openers
NC State opened its 1973-74 NCAA championship season with a 130-53 win over Appalachian State. The 77-point margin of victory is the largest in program history and the biggest in a season opener.
Four times, the Pack has opened the year with wins of 50 points or more.
Preseason ACC Favorites
For the first time since the David Thompson era, NC State was picked to win the ACC in a preseason poll of media at the league's annual Operation Basketball in Charlotte.
The Pack earned 26 of the 53 first-place votes cast in the poll, followed by Duke, North Carolina and defending ACC champions Florida State.
The only other times the Pack was picked to finish first in the poll was in 1973-74, when Norm Sloan's team was coming off a perfect 27-0 ACC championship season, one of only two undefeated seasons in ACC history. Junior David Thompson and senior Tommy Burleson helped the Wolfpack follow through on that prediction, not only winning its second consecutive ACC title but also ending UCLA's college basketball dynasty, beating the seven-time champion Bruins in the NCAA semifinals at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum.
The Pack won the school's first team NCAA title by beating Al McGuire's Marquette squad in the championship game to finish the season 30-1. The Pack was also picked to finish first going into 1974-75, Thompson's senior season. That year, as Thompson earned his third consecutive ACC Player of the Year Award and his second straight National Player of the Year Award, the Wolfpack finished 22-6, tied for second in the ACC standings and losing to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament championship game. It did not receive one of the ACC's two bids into the expanded 32-team NCAA Tournament field.
Over the years, the Pack has been better at exceeding expectations in the preseason poll. State has finished at least two spots better than its predicted finish on 11 occasions, including last season, when it was picked eighth and finished fourth.
It has also finished two or more spots below its predicted finish on nine occasions, including 2008, when the Wolfpack was picked third but finished tied for 11th, and 2011, when it was picked fourth, but finished tied for 10th.
Junior forward C.J. Leslie, chosen as the ACC's preseason player of the year, is the only returning conference player that ranked in the top 10 in scoring, rebounds and field goal percentage last year.
Leslie's 14.7 points per game last season, ranked ninth among ACC players, while his 7.3 rebounds per game were eighth and his .525 field goal percentage was third in the league.
He Giveth, He Taketh
Last season, junior point guard Lorenzo Brown ranked second in ACC with 6.3 assists per game. His assist average was the highest for a Wolfpack player since Chris Corchiani average 9.6 for the 1990-91 season. Brown also led the ACC in steals last season with 1.8 per game.
Brown was the first NC State player since Corchiani in 1990 led the conference with 3.2 steals a game.
Wood Tabbed Nation's Top Shooter
ESPN.com analyst Seth Greenberg, the former head coach at Virginia Tech who now works as a broadcaster for the network, rated NC State senior guard Scott Wood the nation's top shooter in his recent rankings.
"Wood has the size to get shots off and, just as important, he has a quick release," Greenberg wrote. "Wood is effective getting out in transition, giving himself space and opportunities to shoot in rhythm. Coach Mark Gottfried runs a number of different sets for him; Wood does a great job coming off the down screen in NC State's triangle action as well as the double-down in the team's UCLA offense. Plus, he is patient as a baseline runner in rover action, stays low and does a great job of reading fades and curls off screens."
Wood was the only ACC player listed in Greenberg's top five shooters.
Howell on the Boards
Entering Friday's game, senior forward Richard Howell has 675 rebounds. He needs 19 to move into a tie with Pack great David Thompson in the NC State top 20 with 694. Last year, Howell grabbed a personal-best 342 boards and averaged 9.2 boards per contest (third in the ACC). The Pack was 11-5 when Howell posted double digits in rebounds last season.
No Foul, No Harm
A key to NC State's success this season is having junior C.J. Leslie and senior Richard Howell avoid foul trouble and stay on the court.
Last year, when the duo registered nine total disqualifications, the Wolfpack went 1-7 in those games. Leslie fouled out four times last year, while Howell sat five times due to fouls.
Our State, In State
The 2012-13 NC State roster has eight players from North Carolina on it, the most for a Wolfpack team in a decade.
The three-player freshman class, all of whom were McDonald's All-Americans, are North Carolina natives. Rodney Purvis hails from Raleigh, T.J. Warren is from Durham and Tyler Lewis comes from Statesville.
Sophomore walk-on Staats Battle comes from Raleigh's Broughton High School, which is less than two miles from the NC State campus. Junior C.J. Leslie is a native of Holly Springs, just outside of Raleigh, and senior Jay Lewis is from Greensboro. Two recent additions to the roster are also native North Carolinians. Freshman Chase Cannon is from Morehead City, N.C., and sophomore Jevoni Robinson is from Charlotte, by way of Jamaica. Robinson played high school basketball at Charlotte's Independence High.
It's the most in-state players on the roster since the 2002-03 team had seven North Carolina natives, plus another N.C. high school product in the lineup: Cameron Bennerman (Greensboro), Clifford Crawford (Winston-Salem), Dovonte Edwards (Chapel Hill), Marcus Melvin (Fayetteville), Will Roach (Raleigh), Scooter Sherrill (Mount Ulla) and Adam Simons (Burlington).
For good measure, Sofia, Bulgaria,-native Ilian Evtimov, played at Bishop McGuiness High School in Winston-Salem and listed that Triad city as his hometown throughout his career.
All The Hype
Besides being picked to win the ACC crown, NC State is the No. 6 team in the country in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll.
The 2007-08 season was the last time the Pack was ranked entering the year at No. 21 in the AP poll.
State's highest-ever preseason ranking was No. 1 going into the 1974-75 season, fresh off its first national championship.
The No. 6 ranking also represents the third highest mark in the program's history. At the start of the national championship season (1973-74), NC State was No. 2.
The Wolfpack was also ranked No. 5 in Sports Illustrated's preseason issue.
With four starters returning, there shouldn't be an issue with NC State's offensive production this year. The quartet all averaged in double figures last season, led by junior C.J. Leslie's 14.7 points per game.
Combined with junior Lorenzo Brown's 12.7 ppg, seniors Scott Wood's and Richard Howell's 12.4 and 10.8 ppg last season, NC State has 67.4 percent of its scoring production back.
No, it's not the newest meal at the golden arches, but a reference to the Pack's freshmen class of McDonald's All-Americans: Tyler Lewis, Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren.
With the additions of the trio, NC State has had 16 players that have been selected to participate in the prestigious all-star game. It marks the third time in program history that State has had multiple McDonald's All-American selections, but it is the first time it has had three at once.
Sidney Lowe and Dereck Whittenburg were NC State's first McDonald's All-Americans and multiple selections in 1979. The last time the Wolfpack had multiple McDonald's All-Americans was in 1987 when the duo of "Fire and Ice," Chris Corchiani and Rodney Monroe, were selected.
NC State vs. The MAC
While this is the first meeting between NC State and Miami of Ohio, the Wolfpack is 4-1 in its previous meetings with teams from the Mid-America Conference.
NC State's last meeting with a MAC team was a 66-45 win over Akron in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla. The Zips also will be a part of the field at next week's Puerto Rico Tip-off and are on the same side of the bracket as UNC Asheville.
The Wolfpack is 3-0 all-time against the Zips. winning on the road 53-47 on Jan. 1, 1947, and at home on Nov. 28, 1989, in a 87-67 win at Reynolds Coliseum.
NC State defeated Kent State, 99-61, in a home win on Dec. 27, 1974.
It suffered its only loss to a MAC team on Jan. 29, 1952, in a 72-67 setback to Bowling Green at Reynolds Coliseum.