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March 9, 2012

Pack needs another win to bolster chances




There is no consensus on where NC State currently stands in their quest to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Even the best bracketologists in the country can't agree on if the Wolfpack is on the good side of the bubble, or if they are on the outside looking in at the Big Dance - which is to be expected with conference tournaments still being played.

ESPN's Joe Lunardi currently has Mark Gottfried's squad listed among the first four teams out, while CBS Sports' Jerry Palm has State as one of the last four teams into his bracket projection, according to his update at 2:00 a.m. on Friday morning.

One thing is certain: the Pack is squarely on the bubble and is still in a must-win position. State needs to record a victory in their second-round game against Virginia in the ACC Tournament, especially after dropping the regular season match-up by one point to the Cavaliers at the RBC Center.

According to the last Nitty Gritty report by the NCAA, the Pack boasts an RPI of No. 55. However, Texas and Miami both moved into the top 50 after winning first round games in their conference championship tournaments. A win over Virginia would likely give the Red and White a quartet of wins over teams with an RPI in the top 50, something that should help a resume that lacks the big, marquee win.

Gottfried and company looked strong in their first-round game against Boston College and never trailed en route to a 78-57 victory. Forward Scott Wood led the way with 22 points on the strength of five three-pointers and the Pack improved to 9-0 when the sharpshooter makes at least four shots from behind the arc.

C.J. Leslie also continued his strong late-season push and recorded his seventh double-double of the campaign with 11 points and 11 rebounds. He has tallied double-digit points in 11 straight games and has recorded four double-doubles in the last five contests. The second-team All-ACC selection has averaged 17.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game over the previous eight tilts, and in the only three games that he hasn't recorded a double-double during that stretch, Leslie logged nine rebounds.

Leslie led the squad with 17 points in the 61-60 loss to nationally ranked Virginia on Jan. 28 at the RBC Center. That Pack shot 40.4 percent from the field in that game and just 13.3 percent from behind the arc as they made only two shots from downtown. State also struggled at the free throw line and logged a 57.1 percent clip there.

That contest was the first time under Gottfried that State had lost back-to-back games, so a win could be especially sweet for the Pack. This game is a golden opportunity to extract revenge for the regular-season loss and bolster the squad's NCAA Tournament resume at the same time.




Virginia preview

NC State 2011-12 roster

NC State schedule/results

NC State season stats

Virginia roster

Virginia schedule/results

Virginia season stats

Game facts

NC State (21-11, 9-7 ACC) vs. Virginia (22-8, 9-7 ACC)

Game time: Friday, March 9, 2 p.m. - Philips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.

Television: ACC Network/ESPNU

Probable starters

NC State
PG - 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 189, Soph., 12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.8 spg)
SG - 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, 224, Sr., 11.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg)
SF - 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 175, Jr., 12.9 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF - 5 C.J. Leslie (6-8, 209, Soph., 14.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.7 bp, 1.1 apg)
C - 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 250, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 apg)

Virginia
G - 1 Jontel Evans (5-11, 188, Jr., 7.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.6 spg)
G - 13 Sammy Zeglinski (6-1, 184, Sr., 8.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.6 apg, 1.5 spg)
G - 12 Joe Harris (6-6, 211, So., 11.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.7 spg)
F - 23 Mike Scott (6-8, 237, Sr., 17.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.5 bpg)
F - 25 Akil Mitchell (6-8, 234, So., 3.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg)

Scouting Virginia

Location: Charlottesville, Va.

Nickname: Cavaliers, Wahoos

2010-11 record: 16-15, 7-9 ACC

2011 postseason: None

Coach: Tony Bennett, 122-72 (sixth year) and 53-39 at Virginia (third year)

Series: NC State leads, 80-58

Last meeting: No. 19/21 Virginia won 61-60 in Raleigh, N.C.

Notes

Virginia: When the Cavaliers clinched the No. 4 seed in the ACC Tournament, that marked their highest seed since a No. 2 slot in the 2007 edition ... Virginia is looking for its first ACC semifinal appearance since 1995 -which stands as the longest semifinal drought in the league ... The Wahoos are 3-5 in ACC Tournament games hosted by Atlanta; they reached the finals in 1983, where they fell to the Wolfpack, 81-78 ... UVa's 22 regular-season wins are the most for the program since it recorded 25 in 1982-83 ... The Cavs were able to win seven true road games for the first time since 1986-87 and appeared in the AP Poll for 11 consecutive weeks, its longest streak since 2000-01 ... Both UVa (1-0) and NC State (2-0) are undefeated at Philips Arena this year ... The Cavs are currently receiving votes in both national polls ... Under Tony Bennett, the 'Hoos are 25-2 when scoring at least 70 points, and 28-37 when being held under 70 ... This year, the Cavs are 18-1 when scoring at least 60; thanks in large part to the fact that they held 11 opponents under 50 points this season -the most by an ACC team in the shot clock era ... Virginia ranks among the national leaders in numerous defensive categories-they are ranked among the top ten for points per game (53.2, second), points per possession (0.87, first), assists per game (eight, second), assists-to-turnover ratio (0.62, ninth), assists percentage (41.5 percent, sixth) and defensive rebounding percentage (74.4 percent) ... Forward Mike Scott is just the second Cavalier to be named first-team All-ACC in the past 20 years; he is the ACC's active leader in points and rebounds.

NC State: The Wolfpack holds an 80-58 advantage over Virginia all-time, including a 12-2 edge in ACC Tournament tilts ... The last time the two schools met in the postseason was in 2007, with the Pack taking a 79-71 victory ... NC State is now 4-5 in ACC Tournament action as the No. 5 seed and 5-4 in ACC Tournament games played in Atlanta ... However, the team has never won back-to-back games as the fifth seed ... The Red and White have outscored opponents 228-189 in the paint over its last six games, and the Pack also holds a 241-225 advantage during that span for rebounding ... Scott Wood has now passed Archie Miller for third all-time in program annals with 221 career three-pointers ... In his last three games, Wood has gone 17-of-34 from the field and 13-26 on three-pointers; he is averaging 18.7 points per contest during that tretch ... C.J. Leslie has scored in double digits in 11 straight games and has four double-doubles in his last five contests ... NC State coach Mark Gottfried needs one more victory to reach 300 for his career ... The coach is currently tied with Press Maravich for second all-time in single-season wins for a first-year coach (21); Everett Case holds the record with 26 ... With yesterday's win over Boston College, the Pack recorded three victories over one opponent for the first time since 2007.


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