Sunday's meeting will mark the 139th in a series that dates back to the 1924-25 season. The Wolfpack holds a 71-67 advantage in the series, and has won the last two meetings. However, NC State has won just four of the last 14 meetings, seven of the last 32, dating back to the 1991-92 campaign. Prior to that streak, the Pack had won nine of the previous 12 matchups.
Last season, the Wolfpack swept Maryland in the regular season for the first time since 1988-89, winning 82-63 in Raleigh and 85-69 at College Park. This season, the teams will only play once for the first time since the 1950-51 campaign. NC State's win in College Park in 2004 marked its first on the Terrapins' home court since the 1988-89 season and when the Pack won there against last season, it marked the team's first back-to-back road wins against Maryland since 1988 and 1989. The Wolfpack lost 14 straight at Maryland before the 81-69 win on February 1, 2004. NC State has only won twice versus Maryland in the RBC Center. Last season and in 2000 when Maryland was ranked 12th nationally. That game marked NC State's first ACC contest in the RBC Center. In 2001-02, NC State was the last team to defeat Maryland before the Terrapins' run to the national championship. The Pack defeated the second-ranked Terrapins, 86-82, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte after losing both regular season matchups.
WOLFPACK AND TERRAPINS PLAY 'SUPER' GAMES
Sunday's game against Maryland will mark the 14th that NC State has played on the same day that the Super Bowl is played. It will mark the sixth time that the Wolfpack's opponent on that day has been the University of Maryland. The Wolfpack posts an 8-5 record on Super Bowl Sunday, a 3-2 mark versus Maryland and a 5-2 mark at home. State has won its last two games played on that day (86-77 vs. UNC in 2003, 81-69 vs. Maryland in 2004). The Pittsburgh Steelers (who are incidently coached by NC State alum Bill Cowher), have played in the Super Bowl twice on the same day the Pack is playing basketball winning both of those contests (1976 and 1979). Pittsburgh native Herb Sendek is a huge teelers fan, even though he says he has never attended a regular game.
SIMMONS AMONG MOST IMPROVED
Sophomore center Cedric Simmons ranks fourth among ACC players for most scoring improvement from last season to this season. Simmons is currently averaging 12.8 points per game, up 9.3 from his average as a freshman (3.5).
One of the Wolfpack's team goals this season is that if the team does lose (obviously a bigger goal is not to lose!), never to lose back-to-back games. So far in 2005-06, NC State has accomplished that goal. The squad's four losses have all been followed by wins (both conference losses have actually been followed by double-digit wins). The last time NC State finished the season without back-to-back losses was 1973-74.
PACK MAKES THE TURN AT FAST PACE
The proverbial 'turn' in ACC play occurred Wednesday night's game with Virginia - in other words, the Wolfpack has reached the halfway point in ACC regular season play. NC State enters the Maryland contest and the second half of conference action with a 6-2 league mark. This marks the second season that teams do not play home-and-home contests with all the other teams in the league, so the 'turn' doesn't have the same significance it used to have. However, NC State's 6-2 mark ties as the team's best first-half mark under Herb Sendek and the best mark since the 1988-89 campaign when Jim Valvano's squad opened at 8-2 and went on to win the ACC regular season title. The Wolfpack had finished 5-3 in the first half three times under Herb Sendek (2003, 2002 and 2000).
PACK ACCURATE VERSUS ACC
NC State continued its hot shooting in Wednesday's two-point win over Virginia, hitting 50% of its shots from the field. NC State has shot at least 50% from the field in five of its eight ACC games this season and leads the league in field goal percentage in conference games (.504) and in three-point shooting (.442) in the league-only stats. The Wolfpack has shot over 50% on three's in three league games this season. NC State posts a 4-1 league record this season when shooting 50% or better, 8-1 overall. It's only loss when hitting that mark came at then-top-ranked Duke.
TWOS WILL DO
NC State is known as a solid three-point shooting team, as the Wolfpack leads the ACC in three-point shooting against ACC competition with a .442 mark and ranks fourth in the league overall at .384. But Herb Sendek's squad is also pretty good at shooting the two. The Wolfpack, which also leads the league in overall field goal percentage in conference games (.504), ranks second only to Duke in two-point field goal percentage, with a .564 mark (353-626). Of the nine scholarship players who are currently seeing action, all but one shoot over 50% on two-point shots (Tony Bethel shoots .424).
Here's a look at the Wolfpack's two-point shooting percentages:Andrew Brackman .631 (53-84)Ben McCauley .625 (10-16)Cedric Simmons .622 (92-148) Ilian Evtimov .581 (36-62)Cam Bennerman .570 (57-100) Engin Atsür .547 (29-53)Gavin Grant .518 (44-85)Courtney Fells .500 (4-8)Tony Bethel .424 (25-59)
NO PLACE LIKE HOME FOR BENNERMAN
Senior Cameron Bennerman has moved into a tie for the team scoring lead, and is now averaging 12.9 points per game. But in the Wolfpack's four ACC games at home this season, he has been particularly hot. In the wins over Miami, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Virginia, Bennerman has averaged 18.3 points (his 26 points against Wake Forest was a career high). He is shooting 61% (23-38) from the field in home league games and is 22-22 from the charity stripe. His three-point shooting in those games stands at 33% (5-15). Bennerman's numbers in NC State's league road games haven't been too shabby either. He's averaged 13.3 points in the Wolfpack's four ACC road games and is shooting 54% from the field and 50% (7-14) on three's. He's only hitting 67% of his free throws (8-12) in those contests.
WOLFPACK WINS IN GAME-AND-A-HALF
NC State had hoped to be halfway back to Raleigh by the time the final buzzer sounded the Jan. 29 contest at Clemson. The game was the Wolfpack's first overtime game in two years, it's first double-overtime game in 10 years (2/8/96 vs. Virginia) and its first double-overtime win in 17 years (3/18/89 vs. Iowa in NCAA Tournament). The Wolfpack led by as much as 10 points in the second, and was ahead for the entire game until the 1:14 mark in regulation. The Pack was hampered with foul trouble as four of the game's starters (Andrew Brackman, Engin Atsür,Cam Bennerman and Ilian Evtimov) had three fouls midway through the second half. Clemson tied the game for the first time with 2:09 remaining, went ahead by two at the 1:34 mark and by three with just :09.9 remaining. Bennerman, playing with four fouls, hit a huge three-pointer with just :02.4 remaining to send it into overtime. Ilian Evtimov was the star of the OT, scoring four of the Pack's seven points in the first overtime and seven of the team's 15 points in the second overtime.
NC STATE CONSISTENT DURING ACC PLAY
In previous seasons, the Wolfpack's statistics in its home games and road games were vastly different. This season, at least during ACC play, the Wolfpack has been fairly consistent - despite the fact that three of the four road games have been against teams that were ranked at the time (Boston College, North Carolina, Duke) and the four home ACC games have all been against unranked squads. The Pack is shooting .505 from the field in ACC play at home and .502 on the road. At home, State is getting outrebounded by 7.0 (mainly due to WFU's 18 rebound edge) and is outrebounding the opponent by 0.5 on the road.