RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – It’s not just No. 16 Duke University coming to PNC Arena on Wednesday night. An opportunity is also presenting itself for the Wolfpack.
If North Carolina State University can knock off the Blue Devils, it would earn its first ranked win of the season — and its first win over a Quadrant 1 team — a necessity for those with NCAA Tournament aspirations.
“It’s about quad opportunities (getting in the NCAA Tournament),” N.C. State Head Coach Kevin Keatts said. “We have a good Duke team coming in that I think will be a Quad 1 opportunity. I think our guys are looking forward to that and embracing the opportunity of playing an ACC team at home.”
Wednesday’s matchup will feature the Atlantic Coastal Conference’s second-ranked scoring offense against the conference’s second-ranked scoring defense. N.C. State is averaging 80.6 points per game while Duke is allowing just 60.4 and holding opponents to just 40.4 percent shooting.
“I feel like it will be a good backcourt on both sides,” sophomore guard Terquavion Smith said. “I’m going to go at their guards and I’m going to go hard all game.”
In their lone meeting last season at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Smith had 19 points while going 1-for-9 from three-point range in the 88-73 loss to then-No. 8 Duke.
Duke enters Wednesday’s contest with two major advantages over the Wolfpack: its depth and size.
The Blue Devils go nine deep in their rotation with only one player, captain Jeremy Roach, averaging more than 30 minutes per game.
N.C. State, on the other hand, has three players averaging more than 30 minutes per game and a much smaller rotation, in part due to center Dusan Mahorcic being sidelined after dislocating his right patella earlier this year.
“They have great depth,” Keatts said. “What they’ve been able to do is they’ve got a two-headed monster at the five position, and they can go two deep at every position.”
There are not many teams in the country that can top, pun intended, the Blue Devils size-wise either. Duke has a 6-foot-7 small forward in true-freshman Dariq Whitehead, and two seven-footers at the four and five, in freshmen Kyle Filipowski and Dereck Lively II.
“Because they’re bigger I think our physicality is that much (more) important to this game,” Morsell said. “Keeping them off the glass and matching their physicality are the major keys.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Keatts is 2-4 all-time against Duke while at N.C. State with both wins coming at PNC Arena.