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Clemson at NC State Basketball Preview

Which NC State team is going to show up? No idea.


Clemson vs NC State:

When: 1/11/2018 - 9pm EST
Where: NC State
How To Watch: ESPN

Guys, I normally have a little better grasp on teams this far along in the season, but honestly, I have no idea what to think about NC State. They could be really good, they could be really, really, really—like South Carolina football—bad. They fluctuate from game to game.

Are we getting the NC State team that took an unmerciful beating at the hands of a depleted Notre Dame, or are we getting the NC State team that shot Duke out of the building? We’re all going to have to watch to find out, because I doubt even Kevin Keats (NC State’s basketball coach, for those of you who normally don’t follow the shooty hoops scene) knows.

NC State So Far:

The Pack are currently 11-5 on the year.

Key Wins:

  • Duke (KenPom #5)
  • Arizona (KenPom #18)

Bad Losses:

  • UNI (KenPom #139)
  • UNCG (KenPom #119)

How They Stack Up To Everyone Else:

  • PPG: 83.4 (34th)
  • RPG: 38.2 (85th)
  • APG: 15.6 (82nd)
  • Points Allowed: 72.6 (188th)

The Takeaway:

NC State is above average at putting the ball in the basket, average in rebounding and passing, and terrible on defense.

NC State Offense:

NC State is another team that likes to spread the floor and drive the ball, looking to either score or kick out if the defense collapses. Here is an example of their 4 out 1 in look against Duke.

They spread the floor with 4 players on the perimeter (4 out) and then use the 1 player inside the arc (1 in) to set ball screens. NC State tries to roll him on the first screen attempt, and then resets and lets the guard attack on the second attempt.

The look essentially goes from a 4 in 1 out to a 5 out look on the last screen because the screener delays the roll (forgive the jump in the gif, tried to get it perfect but kept getting that lag) and is really just looking for a chance at the rebound.

In theory (and in practice in this particular case) this allows the NC State guard to attack the basket without the threat of a shot blocker lurking in the paint. I expect to see them attempt to pull Eli away from the basket a good bit in this game.

4 in 1 out

Here is another look from Duke game, this time utilizing 2 big men. It initially looks like NC State is going to go with a 3 out 2 in look on this possession. That quickly changes as the off-ball big is used for a screen. They cycle through the first screen, and then you see 14 pick and pop, giving you the 4 out 1 in look NC State likes.

The guard attacks off the dribble and then dumps it off to the big when his man helps off on the drive for an open dunk.

Clemson cannot allow straight line drives (this Duke defense is awful) or NC State will win the game. In this case, the opposite side big should probably just let the NC State guard try and finish, as there is no help available.

4 out 1 in dunk


NC State is a good bit like Boston College: they are going to look to spread the floor and attack off the dribble. They may occasionally give #14 a look in the post, but for the most part, it’s going to be dribble drive and attempt to finish, dribble drive and dump, or dribble drive and kick if Clemson tries to rotate down off a shooter.

The best way to stop this offense is to stop the drive. Clemson’s guards are going to have to move their feet and keep NC State from blowing by on the perimeter.

I like the way we match up on defense, and think we will be able to hold NC State at or below their long as....


NC State is going to extend pressure with a 1-2-1-1 press off some made baskets and every full-court dead ball. They use their defense to prop up their offense, and look to get cheap baskets off mistakes.

You can’t make a lazy inbound pass, because if you throw it to the wrong spot on the court, NC State is going to spring the trap.

Duke gets lazy with their inbound pass, throwing it to the corner, and are lucky to get the ball back after the deflection.

NC State makes it easy to throw the ball into the corners because they want you to throw the ball into the corner.

Clemson has to avoid this temptation and work to inbound the ball in the middle of the court. If you get to the ball to the middle you can break a 1-2-1-1. If you do throw it to the corner you’ve got to get the ball back to the inbounder (as Duke attempts) quickly (no dribbling).


When not picking up full court, NC State plays a pretty generic man-to-man defense. Honestly, there isn’t much to say about it. They find their man, switch picks, and it’s not that great.

Below, you see Duke use the side ball screen, get the switch, and then easily drive Braxton Beverly, who doesn’t appear to have any interest in stopping the drive. NC State doesn’t rotate down, and Duke scores.

I was looking for something else NC State might try, but this is about it, marginal/bad man-to-man. This is where Clemson wants NC State. In the half court, 5 on 5, and punishing the shoddy Wolfpack defense.

Generic Man 2 Man

NC State Key Players:

Allerik Freeman: 15.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG - Guard

Freeman is a grad transfer from Baylor that has given NC State a huge boost this season. He’s their leading scorer, and seems to have a floor around 13 or 14 points a game, with an occasional breakout performance.

He’s not a good outside shooter (29% on the season, 2-11 in the first game against Clemson) or a particularly efficient scorer inside the arc (34%), but he usually finds a way to get his, even if it’s not pretty.

Clemson will tempt him to shoot the 3, and will attempt to prevent him from penetrating, because Freeman is adept at drawing fouls, and is a solid free throw shooter (78%).

Omer Yurtseven: 11.7 PPG, 6.9 RPG - C

NC State doesn’t have any depth on the inside, but the one player they have is pretty good. Yurtseven is a 7’0, 245 pound center from Turkey who has a nice game. He gave lottery pick bigs from Duke all they wanted before fouling out in his last game.

He’s efficient on the inside (61%), a tough guy to handle on the boards, blocks, and can even shoot a little from the outside (6-9 on the year). He struggles from the line (54%), so when in doubt, wrap him up and make him earn it.

Yurtseven put up 12 and 10 with 5 blocks in the first match up against Clemson, and was probably NC State’s best player. Watching him bang with Eli will be a fun, man sized match-up.


Clemson should win this game. They are the better, more experienced team. That said, if NC State won, I wouldn’t be shocked. Vegas sees it as Clemson -4, and that seems like a reasonable line. The Wolfpack are a tough out at home, when they can feed off the crowd and create chaos with their defense.

NC State was able to bait Duke into playing an up and down game with them. NC State wants you to attack their press and take quick shots, and will live with the results. Duke played right into their hands, and instead of simply punishing NC State in the half court, they tried to run and gun and ended up getting beaten by a far inferior team.

I don’t think Clemson will fall into that trap, and with 3 experienced guards on the floor, and the Swiss army knife that is Donte Grantham available to help relieve pressure, I don’t think the Pack press is going to phase Clemson.

My only fear is that Clemson falls in love with the 3 because NC State tends to leave it wide open, and has a bad shooting night. That said, I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic about this team. It’s tough to win on the road in the ACC, but I think the Tigers pull it out.


Clemson 77 NC State 69