There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the Midwest Region’s 6-11 matchup between Steve Fisher’s San Diego State crew and the Wolfpack of North Carolina State.
San Diego State-NC State Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State in Midwest Region
- San Diego State-NC State Date: Friday, March 16th
- San Diego State-NC State Tip Time: 12:40 ET
- San Diego State-NC State Location: Columbus
- San Diego State-NC State TV: truTV
- San Diego State-NC State Announcers: Tim Brando and Mike Gminski
- San Diego State-NC State Point Spread: NC State -1.5
- Tickets: San Diego State-NC State Tickets
- Tickets: All Columbus Sessions
- Tickets: Midwest Regional Tickets in St. Louis
San Diego State-NC State Analysis and Prediction
While I’m still not convinced the Wolfpack actually deserve to be in the tournament, I do like their first round matchup.
Sophomore C.J. Leslie has been fantastic down the stretch, and the Aztecs have very little size inside, which could mean guys like Leslie and Richard Howell could wreak havoc on the glass. SDSU also struggles to defend the three-point line, while NC State sharpshooter Scott Wood is among the nation’s best long-range snipers.
On the other end of the floor, the Aztecs haven’t posted gaudy offensive efficiency numbers, which is definitely a concern. However, I am admittedly hesitant to pick against Jamaal Franklin, who has been phenomenal for Steve Fisher’s team this year.
Predicted Winner: North Carolina State
San Diego State Aztecs Team Capsule
- Conference: Mountain West
- Record: 26-7 (10-4 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 6-4
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 5-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: California, Colorado State (2), Long Beach State, New Mexico
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Baylor, Colorado State, Creighton, New Mexico (2), UNLV
- Player to Watch: Jamaal Franklin (6’5” G, So.) – 17.2 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 1.0 spg
San Diego State Bottoms Line:
Despite losing a number of key contributors last season, the Aztecs tied for the regular season title in the Mountain West and reached the conference tournament final.
SDSU boasts a number of talented guards, led by MWC Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin who ranks first on the team in both scoring and rebounding despite standing just 6-foot-5. His defensive rebounding percentage is among the best in the country, and he does a terrific job of drawing fouls as well. Xavier Thames also scores in double figures and leads the team in assists, while veteran Chase Tapley has drained 43.3 percent from beyond the arc.
On the inside, the Aztecs use a committee approach with Garrett Green, Tim Shelton, and Deshawn Stephens all averaging at least 5.0 points and 4.7 rebounds. Green hits nearly 59 percent from the field, while Stephens shoots over 60 percent.
Overall, SDSU ranks 83 in adjust offensive efficiency and the only areas where they rank inside the Top 100 are turnover rate and two-point shooting. Three point shooting has been a struggle, and as a team, they don’t get to the line or grab offensive boards often enough. The Aztecs are definitely tough on the defensive end. They have a low turnover rate, but they are in the Top 25 in defensive rebounding percentage and opponents’ free throw rate.
Franklin can certainly get hot and carry the team, which is exactly what he will need to do if the Aztecs want to make a deep NCAA run.
NC State Wolfpack Team Capsule
- Conference: ACC
- Record: 22-12 (9-7 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 5-5
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 3-8
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Texas, UNC-Asheville, Virginia
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Duke, Florida State, Indiana, North Carolina (3), Syracuse, Vanderbilt
- Player to Watch: C.J. Leslie (6’8” F, So.) – 14.6 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.6 bpg, 53.2 FG%
NC State Bottoms Line:
The Wolfpack snuck into the tournament with a decent showing in the ACC Tournament,which is an impressive achievement in Mark Gottfried’s first year at the helm. Five players score at least 10.6 points per game, which isn’t necessarily surprising since the team plays only seven guys in most contests.
C.J. Leslie is an explosive athlete, who has played extremely well down the stretch. He boasts strong rebounding percentages on both ends of the floor, blocks shots at a high rate, and does a great job of getting to the free throw line. He’s joined up front by Richard Howell, who nearly averages a double-double with 10.7 points and 9.3 rebounds per game and ranks in the Top 75 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage.
Point guard Lorenzo Brown does a little of everything with 12.7 points, 6.4 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. On the perimeter, N.C. State also has sharpshooter Scott Wood, who shoots over 41 percent from three-point range and over 91 percent from the line.
The Wolpfack finished 33rd in adjusted offensive efficiency, with their impressive performance on the offensive boards a big reason why. They don’t get to the line a ton, but their other offensive numbers are all above average. On the defensive end, they don’t force many turnovers but still managed to finish 75th in adjusted efficiency.
Related: Jump to our Midwest Region Bracket Breakdown
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama