Mar 23, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward C.J. Leslie (5) shoots as Kansas Jayhawks center Jeff Withey (5) defends during the first half of the semifinals in the midwest region of the 2012 NCAA men

ACC Basketball Preview: NC State Wolfpack

Welcome to Keeping it Heels ACC Basketball team preview series.   Today we’re taking a look at NC State, for our review on Florida State click HERE.

The Wolfpack are the popular pick to win the conference this season after UNC lost so much talent to the NBA.   Coach Mark Gottfried likes to play uptempo and he has a very good, athletic bunch that can run and gun with the best in the nation this season.

The Roster: State has two big time players in 6-5 point guard Lorenzo Brown and Player of the Year candidate CJ Leslie.  Brown is the real deal at the point, he has size, quickness, he can shoot and now that Kendall Marshall is gone he’s the best passer in the ACC.  Leslie is an athletic do it all big man with NBA lottery pick written all over him.   Scott Wood shot over 40% from three point range last season and is one of the best pure shooters in the country.  Joining Wood on the perimeter is talented freshman Rodney Purvis and T.J. Warren.  Everyone in the starting five can score and this should be one of the top scoring teams in the nation, fun to watch for anyone other than opposing fans.

Inside the Numbers: This is a very good passing team that will only get better with their influx of freshman talent, the Wolfpack averaged 15.6 assists per game, 2nd in the ACC last season.  State was a well balanced team last season with all five starters averaging double figures led by CJ Leslie at 14.7 ppg.

They should also be the best scoring and rebounding team in the conference.  State averaged 72.9 ppg, 3rd in the conference and I only see that number improving this season.  At 37.6 rpg State finished second to only UNC last year and should dominate the conference this season.

Prediction: State is the favorite to win the conference in a long, long time.  The popular thing here would be to say that I think UNC will overtake them as the champions of the league.  That’s not what I believe, State is the best team in the conference for a lot of reasons.  They are a veteran team with a very good head coach and two sure fire first team All-ACC players in Brown and Leslie.  I like them to win the conference and go deep in the tournament this year.  With the wide open landscape of college basketball it wouldn’t surprise me to see them compete for a national title this year in the absence of an elite team in the nation.

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