ACC Tournament Odds & Pick for NC State vs. Syracuse: Back Orange in Must-Win Spot (Wednesday, March 10)
Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Jim Boeheim.
- In a matchup of two teams needing a win to pad their resumes, NC State opens its ACC Tournament against Syracuse.
- The Orange won the two regular-season matchups between these teams, with their 2-3 zone proving too much for the Woldpack.
- BJ Cunningham breaks down why he sees that being the case again for the teams' third meeting on Wednesday.
NC State vs. Syracuse Odds
|(+125 / -145)|
NC State and Syracuse meet in the second round of the ACC Tournament on Wednesday, with both teams sitting on the bubble for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
It's been an up-and-down year for the Wolfpack, who finished with a 9-8 record in conference play. However, they are on a five-game winning streak heading into the conference tournament, so it looks like they're getting hot at the right time.
Syracuse also has had a difficult season, going 9-7 in the ACC. The Orange did pull off upsets against North Carolina and Clemson in their final two games, so maybe Jim Boeheim's squad has turned a corner.
Syracuse swept the season series against NC State, but you know the only adage: It's hard to beat a team three times.
When NC State has the ball
The Wolfpack are near the bottom of the ACC offensively, averaging 1.04 point per possession. They've shot the ball well all season long ranking 54th nationally in effective field goal percentage, but they've struggled in a few key areas. NC State has one of the highest turnover rates in the ACC and was a main reason why it lost the two meetings with Syracuse, during which it turned the ball over a combined 31 times.
In one meeting against the Orange, the Wolfpack shot a dismal 26.1% against the patented Boeheim 2-3 zone and over 40% in the other meeting, during which they couldn't make anything inside the arc.
The best possible way to beat a 2-3 zone is to penetrate the middle of the defense, which opens up a ton of wide open looks from all over the court. Syracuse's 2-3 zone is defending the perimeter well this season, allowing only 31.6% shooting from 3-point range, but it's pretty average defending inside the arc and at the rim.
NC State's best chance on offense is to try and penetrate the zone and not rely on the 3-point shot.
When Syracuse has the ball
The Orange have been right around the ACC average offensively this season, averaging 1.07 points per possession. Boeheim's group particularly relies on fundamentals to keep its offense running efficiently with the third-lowest turnover rate in the conference.
NC State is one of the worst defenses in the ACC, and that end of the court was the reason they lost both games to Syracuse this season.
In both games against NC State, Syracuse took advantage of the Wolfpack's one glaring weakness: defensive rebounding. NC State is second-last in the ACC in defensive rebounding and gave up 24 combined offensive rebounds against Syracuse this season.
The Orange also lit up the Wolfpack from 3-point land, shooting a combined 43% over the two contests. Hitting a high percentage from deep is exactly how you beat NC State's defense, because it's allowing almost 35% from beyond the arc this season.
If Syracuse can dominate the offensive glass and shoot a high percentage from 3-point range, it should be able to walk away with the win.
Betting Analysis & Pick
NC State has been playing shorthanded for most of the season without Devon Daniels and now Thomas Allen, both of whom are out for the season. It hasn't seemed to matter during the Wolfpack's five-game win streak, but not having those two guys in the lineup is a definite blow.
Given the fits Syracuse's 2-3 zone gave NC State in both meetings, I think the Orange have the edge in this matchup.
I have Syracuse projected at -4.17, so I think there is some value on -1.5.
Pick:Syracuse -1.5 (up to -2)