Virginia Tech North Carolina State basketball preview

#62 R.P.I. North Carolina State  @ #67 R.P.I. Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech men’s basketball returns to the court this Wednesday night to host A.c.c. Atlantic division member North Carolina State at 9pm on Raycom Sport Network and ESPN/ACC.

The Hokies welcome the 16 up and 7 down North Carolina State Wolfpac to Cassell Coliseum for a midweek run. As things stand; State is surely some version of a post-season hoops squad —although, same as us, they are currently fighting for their post-season big dance lives. As one of these teams is gonna burst its bubble and the other team will cowboy up and kick arse. State may be playing a little better of late although they’ve been uneven to downright inconsistent all season long. The same could be said of Virginia Tech and that means someone has to step up and even things out. Though who will win in this on the level looking game? Read on, to find… out!

North Carolina State Head Coach: Kevin Andre Keatts: age=45, 88-35 overall, 1st season and 16-7 at NC.State.

Baller Keatts was a two-sport standout in football and basketball at Heritage High School in Lynchburg, Va., and went on to play four seasons of basketball as a Pt.Guard at Ferrum (Va.) College.

Coach Keatts began his coaching career as an assistant at Southwestern Michigan College during the 1996-97 season. He then went to Hargrave Military Academy as an assistant coach for two seasons before being promoted to head coach in 1999. In 2001, Keatts moved to Marshall as an assistant coach. He returned to Hargrave in 2003 and served as the head coach until 2011. During his ten years (over two stints) as the head coach at Hargrave, Keatts had a record of 262–17, and won two national basketball championships; with three national runners-up. Hargrave produced 103 players who signed NCAA Division I men’s basketball scholarships during his 10 seasons and 18 others played on the NCAA Division II level.

In 2011, he earned a degree from Marshall. Keatts then joined the staff of Rick Pitino at Louisville and was a part of the Cardinals’ 2013 NC2A national championship team. That year named him the third most respected/feared assistant coach in the nation. WOW!

In March 2014, he was named the head coach of UNC Wilmington (UNCW), succeeding Buzz Peterson. In Keatts’ first season at UNCW he was named C.A.A. Conference Coach of the Year after leading the Seahawks to their first conference championship in nine years, and their first winning season in seven  years.

In his second year, Keatts repeated his rookie-year double, once again winning the C.A.A. regular-season championship and Conference Coach of the Year. In winning the 2016 conference coach of the year, he became the first coach in C.A.A. history to ever win the award in consecutive seasons. Late that spring he was hired by North Carolina State.

An interesting hot commodity is this lowercase coach-k, is he not?

Keatts and his wife Georgette, have two sons, K.J. and Kaden.

State at a glance:

  • 15th in offensive rebounding (15.39 o-rpg)!
  • 25th in steals (7.9 spg).
  • 28th in Turnover Margin (+3.3 tpg).
  • 42nd in scoring O (80.8 ppg).
  • 84th in 3-point defense (33% allowed).
  • (only one metric ranked south of 250th or C— average; as this is a hoops team that does a lotta little things; well)

Wolfpac Returning Starters=2

NC.State Strengths:

  • Pretty dang deep/talented backcourt team as One through Swing goes.
  • Torin Dorn is a slashing good 6′3″ 219 lb. r-junior S/G who is down a whopping 13% on his 3’s this year (now: 34%), L an inch in height and then found 2lbs.; all since we saw him, last. Nevertheless, (new) coach Keatts still has something of  a 3-headed backcourt monsta on his hands here. Torin nets you 13.7 ppg on a shiny looking 53% overall and a Spartan, almost shocking silver medal in rebounding for State with 6.7 caroms snagged per game. Dorn is a physically strong looking kid who brings a Strong-Safety sense to his on-court game. He is also a Charlotte transfer who was merely the C-U.S.A. Player of the year for 2015; and he too will play above the rim and dunk on you. The book here says that Dorn is a solid athlete that can score inside and out although his stop-work (i.e. defense) must improve. And he was a scholastic T&F and golf star; of all things. So yah; he must have some hand-eye-coordination, some patience, and some burst to his hardcourt metrics.

    A Turk‘, funk, dunk! (curious how good he can, be?)
  • All-world true Center recruit, one #14, Ömer Yurtseven had underwhelmed a bit last year although it looks like he is now starting to finally adjust. As the imported 7′, 245 lb. second year legit post is back from a nine game suspension for benefits received in the Turkish League overseas (last year). Whatever that means, and yet he is already up to a pretty smart looking 13.7 ppg on 7 boards on 61% overall and a very sterling 50% from downtown! So maybe the 91 points dropped in a single Turkish League game hype is legit? As this kid has a nice post to mid-range game and many have been the foreign born recruiting coup of the 2016 recruiting class. Because if Ömer gets anywhere near that nine-one mark per game in scoring in college? State could be your sleeper A.c.c. pick; as every thing I read says that this is a special talent who suffered a debilitating knee-knock last year that retarded his special prowess. As he’s an engineering major and he was the no.3 ranked Center by position per Scout two years ago.
  • Leading scorer 6′3″, 210 lb. Allerik Freeman and his 14.2 ppg are pretty good. So are his 4.2 rpg, 3.8 apg and 1.1 spg. His shooting however is left wanting… as in wanting for some better shot selection ethos and some outright range. 34% overall and 32% long each collude to say so. That said, he is graduated already from Baylor and he spent most of his four seasons there firmly parked on the Big-12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll. Scout had Freeman as the 62nd recruit nationally a few years back; though that was a wrist injury ago and that may help explain the spraying effect on his shots. Freeman’s scoring average has risen every single collegiate season up from 4.8 ppg his r-freshman campaign; that’s a worker-bee and quite the improvement to boot. Lindy’s says that Freeman can hit the long-ball though must play team ball. Freeman was also suspended for four games last year at Baylor and fell out enough with the Bears staff that he never started again after that. Thus making Freeman a tough kid to liberate from his smarts; his outburst (scoring) games and yet his hard to manage me ways. Quite the synergy contradiction from a kid with such impressive G.P.A. marks.

NC.State Weaknesses:

  • Gone is long time coach Gottfried and a metric ton of coaching experience and familiarity in fishing the Atlantic Coastal waters.
  • 3 pretty fair to middling ballers and 44 ppg and 13 rpg between them departed from a team that was 74% underclassmen last season.
  • “Patience” is the primary buzzword in most of my preview magazines in description of the Wolfpac in 2018. This is typically more like code for: “wait until next year”.
  • g-transfer NC A&T transfer combo-G, the 6′2″, 185 lb. Sam Hunt was expected to do more than 4.8 caddying ppg. Sam he can still shoot from the outside (37%); although Lindy’s had him listed as: their “Keep an Eye on” break-out Wolfpac baller for 2018.
  • Second season Darius Hicks is done for the duration; so are his 6′7″ and 237 substitute lbs. and his back-up 4.3 ppg with 3.o rpg. The book here read that Hicks was a solid utility rebounder and defender and that his effort looks -not his offense- was keeping him on the court. So Hicks may not have been an offensive maven although the ‘Packs bench is -1 for the presence of his absence. May St.Nikon bless Darius and his blown A.c.l.

pack Bench: (depth=)

Markell Johnson is almost assuredly the best Pt.Guard in the A.c.c. that you’ve never heard of… although you are about to hear about his team and Atlantic Coast leading dimes dropped with 7.8 apg and his team lead in swipes with 2.1 spg. Now mix in 8.1 ppg and 3.5 rpg and -when healthy, as he’s missed six games already- and you quietly have one of the higher Qb rating Point-G’s in the whole darn A.c.c. And oh yes, 41% when dialing long-distance is none too shabby and neither is this C-town 6′1″, though a Jenny Craig string-bean looking 165 lb. sophomoric One. Who ESPN had tabbed as no.48 in the nation; and if he ever mixes in  a protein shake or three, and finds a little more consistency to his outside game; this kid Quarterback’s well enough to earn some money, somewhere, playing some ball.

Last season Abdul-Malik Abu was only listed as the 1st-best rebounder in Atlantic Coast terms by Lindy’s pre-season magazine. I’d say that counts as does his strapping looking 6′8″, 24o lb., final year combine metrics. Except for one thing… they are counting from the bench this year. Recall that Abu was the #32 talent outta high school according to and played one season of varsity tennis and was girl’s lacrosse manager for two years at Kimball H.S.. Never see that one in bio’ before; although hey; that might be a good gig to have. In non-field sport terms, this is a dunkalbe, explosive Four (P/F). As this is a mule of an interior player that opponents routinely bounce off of when they collide with #0. In point of fact, last year Abu had 269% more offensive rebounds than any other member of the Wolfpac’ | this year he’s had a harsh knee ligament sprain and is just not quite the same (may St.Nikon bless). Right now this interior workhorse nets you a cut in half 5.8 ppg and hauls down 2.9 rpg, on 48% shooting with half a block and half a steal.  Did I mention that he dunks the basketball, a lot, yet? Or at least Abu did; as he too has missed six games already this year and he’s playing real minutes every other night on something of a apparent patella rationing program. Which really sucks, as Abu may have been on his way to a overseas check on two good wheels.

To get this much NCAA needed home W; VT needs... what???

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Illation, conclusion(s) and OPT digits:

Number of Statesmen who could start @Tech=3.5.

the takeaway:
The takeaway here is… well, after a rather underwhelming and/or disappointing home L to the Miami Hurricanes on Super Saturday; the ante here just went up.

Nevertheless, in horse-racing terms, after (possibly) running out in front of ourselves with three W’s vs. three straight physically hurting teams; Buzz’s bunch prolly was due to: “bounce”. (sporting allegory, intended…)

As written here several times, “he who lives by the 3-point sword shall parish by the same“, cue: (33% vs. Miami). Or maybe one could dare to opine: “he who clanks (FTA’s) gets spanked” (52.1%). Now mix in the forecast -14 rebounding margin deficit and you might could argue we were fortunate to be down 6 with ~1 minute remaining. Because for all their shooting-selfie and glam’ looking offensive acumen from the outside, this 2018 roundball team has a very thin margin for error. To mix my coaching metaphor, Frankly speaking it our margin of error in A.c.c. play is slim and none… and slim don’t post-up. (i.e. 2 pts. and no boards from Blackshear and a goose-egg from Hill).

Honestly, that’s not gonna beat much of anyone in the A.c.c. and that will very likely get us beat out on the A.c.c. road.

That’s the news… the good news is that NC.State generally favors a higher Hokie friendly pace and this one is @home.

the skinny

Virginia Tech is a  .786 winning team as a host and NC.State checks in with a .4oo probability of winning as the visitor in your house.

Our handy-dandy friend the so-called Forum Guide is calling for State to win by a bucket (2.33 pts). Tech is +8% to the good from the floor overall and +6% ahead of State from downtown with State up +1 in rebounding. The Home/Away splits say that Virginia Tech is up a staggering +22% overall and +10% from range; with the Hokies holding a unusual +7 rebounding margin on the glass. The most recent 5-game trends state that the Gobblers are up +5% from the floor and yet down -2% from long (as Hokie 3-point defense has waned); with the Wolfpac up a hurtful looking +12 in rebounding margin in the last fortnight.

It don’t mean a thang if you ain’t got dat.. blling!

And in the category of just what sports needs… i.e. another statistic, I debut you the A.c.c.-Margin.

This vital merely tracks a team’s seasonal efforts +/- via summing up the Atlantic Coast win or L aggregate outcome scoring margin on the whole for the year.

V.Tech is in the hole… 32 points at this moment of 2018 A.c.c. play. State is experiencing an Atlantic Coast deficit as well at 21 points in A.c.c. scoring debt —though yes, State has exhibited more marginal variance. When State is good State is very good and when State is off State is the enemy of good in-league play. (to help you all better peg that climbers line-of-weakness all the more… 1st-place arch-rival uva is a completely unrealistic +145 to the epic, with 2nd-place Clemson is a decent +22 to the good enough and 3rd-place Duke is a very sporty +101 to the great) Do you see what I mean; now? There is NO margin of error here folks —nadda, none, nil.

Or in other words… it would appear that State -although indeed more hi/lo volatile- it would appear that State is trading less underwater when bailing off the Atlantic Coast that Vah.Tech is by-the-bye. Thereby nominating State as the slightly superior team when taken strictly on a conference in-house basis.

the call

This late in the A.c.c. round-robin that is regular season play… road wins are rare and home wins is… “precious“. A.K.A. Gollum basketball if you will.

On the road I’d be picking State here… still yet, those Home/Away metrics paint the pic’ that State is not a team that travels well (pardon the bad roundball pun).

And yet again; State is playing its best ball of the season and they present some squirrelly match-ups down-low on out on the perimeter as well. That and State is +3 on rest in the last week’ish and a totally irregular +6 in rest in the last ~10 days. wow!

Then we come to the fact that source(s) say that Buzz played the “toughness” card on his team post L’ing to Miami at home. He mutually questioned their “work” and their “toughs.” Now the only thing I know about that is that nobody I know of enjoys being questioned regarding that. Thing is… and this is the kicker… when you play the “toughness” card on a team or on an organization… your “toughness” card needs a rally cap win; and it needs it stat! To do anything else is to risk L’ing the team/org’ for the rest of the given time-frame.


The other thingy is… in any plural version of scoreboard or competition, the father of “toughness” is none other than the obvious, (nearly) tangible, and yet always nebulous concept of: “leadership”. And our should-be senior leader was sat-down for a couple of games earlier in the year; as that’s a lotta things sports-fans, and “leadership” that is not.

So where will this finesse style team turn to to discover its newest hardcore Z.LaDay and/or S.Allen? (I don’t know, and (so far) neither does Buzz… [email protected], if you do know…)

Ergo, therefore, to wit, and in summery: all of that conspires to make this one yet another one that is too close to call. Flip a coin, and if you don’t like the result flip it best two outta three.

Because when you dare to circle the O&M wagons via playing the “toughness” card you’d best present a narrow profile and cloister your troops. As a L vs. State here would be an applied sports psych cloister (bleep)!

(52% confidence interval)
Virginia Tech
=80, North Carolina State=81