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Syracuse men’s basketball: what to watch for vs NC State

Nothing says Love like ACC Basketball

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Boston College Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (15-10, 8-6) returns to action tonight for a date with the #23 NC State Wolfpack (20-6, 10-5).

The Orange are on a two-game winning streak while NC State comes in after putting up 92 against Boston College. Syracuse has won the last four meetings between the two teams.

Here’s what we’re watching for in tonight’s game:

Kevin: Limiting second chances

NC State is averaging 9.9 offensive rebounds in ACC play. Syracuse needs to make an effort to get all five defenders helping on the glass or else it could be a long night against an explosive offense. With the weapons the Wolfpack have on the perimeter, they must contain DJ Burns inside the lane and that’s going to require everyone pitching in to get on the glass.

Mike: Protect the ball

It’s not just the rebounding that stands out. The Wolfpack have excelled at forcing turnovers, leading the ACC in steals and trailing only the Orange in blocks. Since they are such an offensively potent group, SU needs to slow things down and work carefully to find their shots. Otherwise, Coach Keatts’s crew will take advantage and wreak havoc through the transition game.

Christian: False sense of security

NC State as a team only shoots the ball at a 35.7% clip from three. That’s eighth in the ACC, but that is a red herring. The Wolfpack are actually fourth in the conference in threes made per game with 8.62. NC State is going to shoot a lot of threes. They may not make them with high efficiency, but the amount of threes chucked means that a good amount will fall regardless. So Syracuse has to force the Wolfpack to shoot deep in the shot clock to minimize the attempts NC State have on offense. The Wolfpack just tied a season high in their last game with 15 threes against BC, and you can bet they’re eager to beat that number against this Orange zone.

Szuba: Anyone but Smith

Syracuse will have its work cut out for itself with Terquavion Smith. The ACC’s second leading scorer is a volume shooter and that could spell trouble for the 2-3 zone. Syracuse will have to locate him at all times, but even so, Smith should be able to stretch the zone with his range. Don’t be surprised if he gets double-digit three point attempts up in this game.

Dom: Live and die from the outside

As already pointed out, NC State is a perimeter-based offense (3rd in three-point volume and 8th in efficiency in the ACC) that fights for second-chance points while holding its opponents to the second-lowest three-point percentage in the conference. Given the Orange’s semi-lack of defensive opponent shooting luck, Syracuse is going to need to outscore the Wolfpack. The Orange’s perimeter reserves like Justin Taylor and Chris Bell are going to have to step-up.

What are you watching for in tonight’s game?