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Syracuse vs. NC State preview: Four things to watch

Hopefully a win, for one.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the ACC Tournament! The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team returns to Greensboro, N.C. and once again needs to make something happen in this event if they want to make the NCAA Tournament field. That journey starts with a matchup against the N.C. State Wolfpack on Wednesday in a bubble elimination game.

Before the game tips off at noon ET (and on ACC Network), we preview the things that are most worth paying attention to.

Kevin: Backcourt battle

In the two previous games this season Syracuse’s guards have won this matchup but the NC State guards have been improving as the season has ended. Cam Hayes and Dereon Seabron have improved their performance and their emergence means Braxton Beverly can come off the bench. The switch could be significant for Syracuse as Beverly’s been a poor defender and has allowed the Orange to attack him when they have the ball. With the strong Wolfpack frontcourt, if the Orange can get a lead and force Beverly into more minutes it can help the Syracuse guards find a favorable point of attack.

Szuba: Repeat opponents

Perhaps you’ve absorbed the hard-hitting analysis from people on the internet suggesting it’s hard to beat the same team three times in one season? I was going to mail it in and throw that gem in here, but then I remembered something Tyler Aki said (via Locked On Syracuse): Syracuse is 11-1 against repeat opponents over the last two seasons. For all the grief Jim Boeheim has been given, that’s a testament to coaching and his staff for preparing the players. Yes, I’m carrying water for the basketball team now. But will that record hold true today as the Orange tip off against the Wolfpack for the third time?

John: Keep Quincy Guerrier out of foul trouble

One of the common threads we’ve noticed in the last two games between Syracuse and NC State was foul trouble for Guerrier. He fouled out of both matchups, though also managed to shoot about 50% from the floor and was effective on the boards. Keeping him out there for a full game likely means this Syracuse offense is operating efficiently and making things happen on both ends against State’s forwards. Without Guerrier heavily involved, it’s a bigger gamble relying on outside shooting. Let’s avoid that.

Christian: How’s Kadary doing?

Hopefully the week-long layoff between games means that Kadary Richmond has had ample time to heal his ailing right knee. He’s been key to Syracuse’s two victories over NC State this year. In the first game, Richmond had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, featuring some great dribble-drives to the rim. In the second game, Richmond flashed his trademark defense and passing with eight points, four assists, and three steals. We saw against Clemson how much his knee injury limited his influence on the game. With NC State’s freshmen slowly improving down the stretch, his ability to cause havoc on the court is much needed.