RIVALRY RENEWED ON CBS
A Tobacco Road rivalry that dates back to 1911 is renewed when NC State hosts No. 20/12 Duke Saturday afternoon at PNC Arena. The two long-time foes split a pair of meetings last season, with the Pack winning 87-75 in Raleigh. NC State has won three of the last four meetings in Raleigh.
THE STARTING FIVE
1. PACK vs. DUKE IN RALEIGH
NC State has great success against Duke at PNC Arena in recent years. The Wolfpack has beaten the Blue Devils in Raleigh in three of the last four meetings, including when Duke was ranked No. 2 last season (87-75) and when it was No. 1 in 2013 (84-76). In 2010, NC State won 88-74 over a Duke team that would go on to win the national title. In all, Duke is 1-4 in PNC Arena dating back to 2010. This includes a 1-3 mark against NC State and an NCAA Tournament loss to Mercer in 2014.
2. HOME-AND-HOME ONCE AGAIN
NC State and Duke played each other twice each year in the regular season from the 1923-24 season until 2005-06. In recent years, due mainly to conference realignment, there have been eight instances in which the two schools were scheduled to play once. Duke is a rotational home-and-home opponent for NC State this season, with the other being Florida State. Saturday’s game is the 242nd edition of the NC State-Duke rivalry, with NC State owning 99 wins over Duke.
3. THE ACC’S TOP TWO SCORERS
Saturday’s game will feature the ACC’s top two scoring leaders in Cat Barber and Duke’s Grayson Allen. Barber has been one of the most productive guards in college basketball this season. The 6-2 junior leads the conference in scoring (22.3 ppg), minutes per game (38.42) and free throws made (139) while also standing fourth in assists per game (4.84). Allen is second in the ACC with 20.1 points per game. Barber and Allen are the only two players in the conference to boast three outings with 30 or more points this season.
4. BETTER DEFENSIVELY THAN YOU MIGHT THINK
Traditionally, NC State is not known for gaudy defensive numbers, but the Wolfpack has quietly performed quite well defensively. The Wolfpack this season allows 69.9 points per game which is near the middle of the conference and fewer than what Duke allows. NC State allows opponents to shoot just .412 on the year, ranking fifth in the ACC. Opponents are shooting just .433 on 2-point attempts this season, which is second in the ACC and 32nd in the country. Last Saturday, NC State held UNC Chapel Hill to 67 points, tying the Tar Heels’ lowest scoring output of the season. Pittsburgh managed just 61 points against the Wolfpack, its third-lowest scoring total this year.
5. PACK CAN CLEAN UP ON THE GLASS
NC State has established itself as an elite offensive rebounding team, leading the ACC with 15.74 offensive rebounds per game. The Wolfpack grabs 39.1 percent of its missed shots, which ranks 11th in the nation. Statistically, this area bodes well for NC State as Duke is 14th in the ACC in defensive rebounding percentage (grabbing 66.9% of available defensive rebounds).
In the league, only Syracuse has a lower defensive rebounding percentage than Duke. NC State owns 10 games with 16 or more offensive rebounds and pulled in 21 against Virginia Tech and 20 against Florida State. Those offensive rebounds have translated into 15.3 second-chance points per game for the Pack.
BATTLE OF SHORT ROSTERS
Fans in the stands on Saturday might not even need a roster card. Duke, like NC State, plays with a short bench. NC State primarily uses seven players, who combined play 99.1 percent of the team’s minutes. Duke’s six healthy primary players have played 88.3 percent of this season’s minutes.
WOLFPUPS GAINING EXPERIENCE
The experience gained this season by the young Wolfpack squad could pay dividends for the program’s future. According to the popular basketball metrics website KenPom. com, the Wolfpack stands as the 305th most-experienced team (or 46th least-experienced) in the country. The team, when minutes played are weighted by each player’s eligibility class, averages just 1.27 years of experience. The national average is 1.70 and the average experience of the 15-team ACC is 1.48.
Cat Barber surpassed the 1,000-point mark in December, reaching the plateau in his 83rd game as a Wolfpacker. Barber now has 1,154 career points, ranking 41st in NC State history. He needs 13 points to tie Lorenzo Brown for 40th place. Barber is eighth among active players (and tops among non-seniors) in the ACC in career scoring.
CAT AT THE FOUL LINE
Cat Barber leads the ACC and ranks fourth in the nation with 139 made free throws. Barber has eight games with 8+ made foul shots and ranks fourth in the conference with an .858 free throw percentage.
THEY’RE NOT NO. 1 OR 2 THIS TIME
The visiting team enters PNC Arena ranked 20th in the AP poll and 12th in the coaches poll. Last season, Duke came to PNC Arena unbeaten and ranked No. 2. In 2013, NC State knocked off a top-ranked Duke team. In the five times NC State has hosted Duke dating back to 2008, Duke has never been ranked worse than No. 7.
22.0 PPG - 4.8 RPG - 4.8 APG
There are exactly two players in college basketball who average at least 22.0 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 4.8 apg: Cat Barber and Andrew Andrews of Washington.
Cat Barber, NC State 22.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 4.8 apg
Andrew Andrews, Washington 22.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.9 apg
In the middle of his sophomore season, Abdul-Malik Abu is blossoming into a force. Abu, a 6-8 forward out of Boston, has eight double-doubles in his last 10 games. He scored a career-high 21 points against Florida State and then tied a career best in rebounds (14) at UNC.
In ACC play, Abu is grabbing 9.8 boards per game, ranking fifth in the league.
LET’S MOVE TO PITTSBURGH
NC State might be ranked No. 1 if PNC Arena moved to Pittsburgh. Mark Gottfried has coached the Pack to a 4-0 mark in the western Pennsylvania city. The Pack has won at Pitt twice and won both of its NCAA Tournament games in Pittsburgh last March.
RIVALS AND NEIGHBORS
It’s well known the Research Triangle region owns a rich college basketball history, primarily due to the schools’ proximity to each other. PNC Arena and Cameron Indoor Stadium are located 22.6 miles apart.
CODY IN FOR CALEB
Cody Martin has started the last two games, in place of his twin brother. Cody totaled 10 points and seven rebounds and was the main defender on UNC’s Marcus Paige, who finished the day 1-for-9 shooting. NC State is allowing just 64.0 points per game with Cody in the starting lineup.
WAITING IN THE WINGS
NC State has plenty of help for next year wearing street clothes on the bench. In addition to injured redshirt junior wing Terry Henderson (11.7 ppg at West Virginia in 2014), the Pack has Torin Dorn and Dennis Smith ready to suit up next fall. Dorn, sitting out after transferring from Charlotte, was the Conference USA Freshman of the Year after scoring 12.0 ppg for the 49ers last year. Smith, from Fayetteville, is the nation’s topranked point guard and No. 4 overall recruit in the 2016 class. He enrolled at NC State for this semester to rehab a torn ACL with NC State’s medical staff.