With Seton Hall’s NCAA Tournament game against NC State coming up Thursday, The Setonian got in touch with NC State’s student newspaper, Technician, and talked to sports editor Andrew Schnittker to get his view on the game.
Here is what he had to say prior to Thursday’s matchup on NC State’s strengths, advantages and key players:
How would you describe NC State’s season?
NC State was picked to finish 12th in the ACC in the preseason polls. The ‘Pack opened ACC play with 18- and 30-point losses at Clemson and Notre Dame, respectively, and it was fair to wonder if the Pack would even hit its four-win total in ACC play from last season.
The team flipped a switch from there, however. The Pack won 11 of its remaining 16 games in conference play, including back-to-back wins at home over top-25 opponents in Duke and Clemson, a road win at archrival North Carolina and handily beat, at the time, another ranked team in Florida State. The 11 conference wins were NC State’s most since 2013, and earned the Pack a five seed in the ACC Tournament.
No one thought the Wolfpack would even sniff the tournament in what was described by many as “year zero” under Kevin Keatts, without many of his own players and a lot of holdovers from the previous regime. However, Keatts has this group bought in to his fast-pace, up-tempo system, and the results speak for themselves.
Where do you see NC State having an edge over Seton Hall?
This is, on paper, a very evenly-matched game. However, I’m going to give a slight edge to the ‘Pack on offense. Both teams shoot well from three; NC State is shooting 37 percent compared to 36 for the Pirates. However, the Pack also defends a little better from three, holding opponents to 31 percent compared to Seton Hall holding its opposition to 33 percent.
I like NC State to win the three-point battle by a narrow margin, and think this will have a big impact on the game. Expect to hear the names of graduate-transfer guards Allerik Freeman and Sam Hunt and freshman point guard Braxton Beverly called early and often as the Wolfpack looks to establish itself from downtown.
What player matchups are you most excited about?
I cannot wait to watch a pair of big, talented centers in Omer Yurtseven and Angel Delgado go head-to-head. Yurtseven still has not been as physical as ‘Pack fans would like to see, but has made leaps and bounds in that area this season. However, Delgado still has the edge there. Yurtseven’s ability to protect the rim and stay out of foul trouble against Seton Hall’s big man will be big for the Wolfpack.
Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard cited NC State as a “hard-nosed” and “balanced” team earlier this week. What can you say about those attributes?
This is definitely a balanced team. The ‘Pack likes to go with a lineup of four guards and Yurtseven. As I mentioned before, NC State can shoot with the trio of Freeman, Sam Hunt and Beverly, and can also beat you inside with post touches for Yurtseven.
The Wolfpack plays tough on defense, and will full-court press you for most of a game. NC State dives for loose balls, does not quit when it gets down in a game, and is just a tough, scrappy, competitive team. After seeing so much of the opposite in last year’s disaster of a season, that’s been incredibly refreshing this year.
Seton Hall is a team hungry for an NCAA win before the senior class graduates. How does NC State counter the experience of Seton Hall’s four seniors?
Seton Hall definitely has the edge in experience. I think NC State counters that experience with the excitement of so many guys playing in their first NCAA Tournament, and getting to learn what this stage is all about.
Prediction for this game?
This is going to be a close one. I see it swinging back and forth all game and coming down to the wire between two, on paper, very evenly-matched teams. However, I think the Wolfpack’s aforementioned narrow edge in the three-point game and balanced roster, along with motivation coming off a heartbreaking loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament will get the job done. I am taking NC State by five.
Elizabeth Swinton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @eswint22.