Game of the Week
Chris Paul, otherwise known as Dave Sez's conference player of the year, has been tremendous all year (except against Illinois). He's excellent with the ball in his hands and has the ability to turn the corner on every defender in the country. And did I mention that Paul's an academic All-American on top of it all? (Does this cause him to lose street cred?-- Editor. Maybe, but not at the BasketBlog. -- Birkel)
The only problem CP seems to have is with larger guards who are able to overpower him. (Do you mean Jarrett Jack? -- Editor. Yes. -- Birkel) It doesn't strike me that Tony Bethel fits the bill, somehow.
Wake's roster is replete with contributors. Seniors Vytas Danelius, Jamal Levy and Taron Downey are all tough, defense-minded players who give Coach Prosser everything they have. And the rest of their lineup is pretty good too with the likes of Justin Gray and Eric Williams. Wake's got everything and if Duke beats UNC they've got motivation to tie for a regular season title. There's great reason to think Wake will come loaded for bear.
Finally, Wake has scored 80 or more points in 14 of 15 ACC games this year. (link) NC State is a team that relies on tempo. So this one really comes down to whether CP brings the goods and pushes the pace. Last time these teams played Wake scored 86. So, one would need great reasons to think Wake won't tie their school record for victories in a season with 26.
Are you interested in the myths surrounding NC State fans? State Fans Nation covers the myths surrounding State fans' dislike of Herb Sendek. The BasketBlog doesn't like him because he doesn't win enough. Funny but that's the reason offered by SFN too.
On to the game. Does NC State have a reason to play hard? Of course they do. They can make the NCAA tourney with a win today against a Wake team looking for a #1 seed. Unlike the pessimists at SFN, the BasketBlog believes Maryland is now dangerously close to missing the tourney. Georgia Tech has clinched the fourth ACC bid to Dance by beating Clemson. Surely the Selection Committee will want to give the RPI's top conference five bids. Can NC State even their conference record at 8-8 and claim their place in the Dance?
Julius Hodge and the rest of the NC State seniors have every reason to give it their all. Hodge is only 82 points shy of 2000 for his career. He has three guaranteed games to accomplish that scoring. Here's hoping he does. But will the motivation to do so be enough?
Hodge is just one of four players in ACC history to have at least 1,900 points, 700 rebounds, 400 assists and 150 steals. The others are Danny Ferry, Grant Hill and Bob Sura.That's pretty good company and he deserves a lot more respect than he normally gets. Will he be rewarded with a First-Team All BasketBlog award? You'll know Monday.
Finally, I think a Wolfpack victory would secure either a fourth or fifth place seed in the ACC tournament. (Admittedly, I'm not sure how all the 8-8 teams would fare in the tie-breakers.) A win would seem to guarantee a game against the VPI Hokies on Friday. That game would be completely winnable and would guaranteed a li'l March Madness. It may not be all that likely.
I'm torn. I really want a Wolfpack victory. It's not that I have it out for Wake or anything. It's just that I would like to see all four North Carolina-based ACC teams make the dance. But by no means do I think NC State has a better team that Wake.
Honestly, I think Wake Forest wins. And wins kinda big.
But darn it, I feel bad typing those words. And I'm hoping this is my first wrong prediction of the year.
Is it me or does it seem like Andrew Brackman, who is a freshman, has been on State's team for eight years? Kinda reminds me of John Crotty that way. Or WoJo.
Does complaining about the tactics of Coach K work? I'll bet not.
Here's something about one of Wake's recruits from Greensboro Dudley: (link--scroll all the way down)
Swinton, 6-7 and 230 pounds, is one of the top forwards in the nation. He averaged 22.0 points and 11.3 rebounds per game as a junior at Dudley. Swinton is ranked as the 20th-best power forward nationally by Rivals and the 47th-best prospect overall by Hoopmasters.Dudley is, historically speaking, the BasketBlog's archrival high school. I am torn.