NC State Wolfpack at Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Time: 7 PM CT (ESPN U)
Spread: WAKE -3
Betting odds c/o CRIS
The NC State Wolfpack is 10-5 on the season, and it has won three of its past five games. Traveling to face Wake Forest will prove tough.
NCAA basketball oddsmakers favor the Demon Deacons by 3 points with an over/under of 148. The game will air at 7 Central on ESPN U.
The Wolfpack has been led by the standout play of 6’2” junior guard Anthony Barber. Barber is averaging 39.8 minutes per game for the Wolfpack while posting 22.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. While he has not been connecting at a high clip, his usage rate excuses that to some degree. Barber is shooting 40 percent from the floor and 27 percent from three-point range, but even in his first two NCAA seasons he was not an efficient player.
The reason the Wolfpack has slipped the last two games with losses to No. 16 Louisville and Virginia Tech is both a combination of playing better teams and the fact Barber has shot just 14 of 43 from the field against both opponents. He still posted 20.5 points per game over those losses, but the Wolfpack have to move without the ball and allow Barber to set them up. There has been too much standing around.
Barber will need some help from Maverick Rowan, Caleb Martin and Abdul-Malik Abu, all of whom average 11 points per game or better. Like Barber, however, the trio does not shoot well from the field. Abu is good for 44 percent, but Rowan and Martin both shoot under 37 percent from the field. Some of it has been reliance on the three, but the Wolfpack could stand to improve its 32.1 percent team three point shooting.
Abu seems set for a nice NCAA career as a productive sophomore this season. He saw just 19.1 minutes per game his freshman year but showed considerable promise and this year his work load has doubled.
Abu is playing 25.6 minutes per game and attempting 9.3 field goals per night, and he leads the team in rebounding with 8.4 per game. At 6’8” he likely does not have a future beyond the NCAA level, but he could be a productive forward at NC State for the next two seasons.
Wake Forest is on a two-game losing to fellow ACC teams Duke and Louisville. The Demon Deacons were not particularly close in either game, losing the the Cardinals by eight and to Duke by 16.
Devin Thomas has been a beast for the Demon Deacons with 16.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.9 blocked shots per game. The 6’9” senior forward has been groomed to be a top offensive option after two seasons as a solid starter.
Last year Thomas averaged 12 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, but he has seen his field goal attempts climb from 8.7 per game a year ago to 10.2 this season. He has scored 17.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game over the past two losses, but he is not the kind of player that is going to simply take over games with his offensive repertoire. Thomas works hard on the glass and is efficient around the hoops, evidenced by his 9 of 11 shooting against the Duke Blue Devils.
The Demon Deacons will need increased offense from its No. 2 and No. 3 scorers Bryant Crawford and Konstantinos Mitoglou.
The pair combines for 34.5 points per game, and Crawford is a good playmaker, but if Wake has any plans at making the tournament it is going to need more from both of them. Starting the ACC season 0-2 is a sure wound, but this team has sufficient talent to at least post a .500 conference record.
Crawford is a freshman point guard, though, and that is a problem in and of itself that could mean Wake is at least a season or two away from being ready to compete at a high level. The 6’3” playmaker averages 4.8 assists per game, but he turns it over 3.8 times as well. That fairly horrible assist-to-turnover ratio is a limiting reagent in any success the Demon Deacons could hope to achieve this season.
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