Games That Matter -- Georgetown v. NC State Preview

Preview of Sunday's Game: #3 Georgetown v. #11 N.C. State, 12:15pm, NCAA Tournament - (Don't Call it the) Third Round

For the first time in four years, the Georgetown University Fighting Bulldogs won a game in the NCAA Tournament. And now we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

There's no time to reflect on yesterday's win, but suffice it to say that our zone was effective, and it was refreshing to see our two seniors, especially Jason, step up and make plays. We shut down Kerron Johnson, and even though we allowed the Bruins to hit ten threes, nothing came easy for them. It was a satisfying and much-needed victory.

But in the immortal words of Hank Sims, "we didn't just come here to win one game."

More GTM after The Jump....

Preview of Sunday's Game

Fresh off a comfortable win over San Diego State, NC State enters this game on a roll, having won five of its last six games, with the only defeat being a two-point loss in the ACC Tourney to North Carolina. On the season, the Wolf Pack have some decent wins against Texas and Virginia, and a number of losses to the likes of Clemson, Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Stanford, Indiana, and Vanderbilt. NC State has been a middling team in the ACC and was never able to get over the hump and beat the conference's best three teams -Carolina, Duke and FSU.

But NC State is no slouch and its lack of marquee wins this season shouldn't lead anyone to conclude that Georgetown will have an easy time in tomorrow's game. On the contrary, this one should be a slugfest. NC State couldn't be more different than Belmont. The Wolf Pack have the length and size to compete with the Hoyas in the paint, and although they aren't the best perimeter shooting team, their defense, rebounding and ability to score inside should make this game a tough challenge for the Hoyas.

NC State essentially uses a seven-man rotation, and boasts one of the more efficient offenses in the country. With an offense that relies on crisp interior passes and ball screens, NC State shoots an impressive 46.6% from the floor and 15.9 assists per game (12th in the nation). Most of NC State's points are scored in the paint, and they average only 14.9 three-point attempts per game (293rd in the nation).

Who to Watch on NC State

NC State's best player is 6'8'' sophomore C.J. Leslie (14.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg), a solid wing player. Leslie is quick enough to take defenders off the dribble, and also has the ability to knock down shots from outside the paint. He's not much of a threat to hit shots from beyond the arc (30.8%) and he is a surprisingly poor free throw shooter (59.8%), but he scores at a very high rate and manages to shoot an impressive 53.1% from the floor (because he gets lots of looks close to the basket). To defend Leslie, Georgetown will need to force him to hit jump shots. He's much less effective from the perimeter than he is in the paint or in transition.

NC State's best backcourt player is 6'5'' sophomore Lorenzo Brown (12.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.4 apg). Brown is the guy who deserves credit for making NC State's offense so potent. He's 11th in the nation in assists per game and is arguably the Wolf Pack's most complete player. He can penetrate and score, and he's developed a decent perimeter shot. He also leads the team with 63 steals. Against San Diego State, Brown played all 40 minutes and had 17 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. When Brown struggles, NC State's offense sputters. He's occasionally prone to making mistakes, and he actually committed five turnovers against the Aztecs. Joining Brown in the backcourt is 5'10'' senior Alex Johnson (4.6 ppg, 2.9 apg). Johnson is more of a role player and was held scoreless in only 15 minutes of action against San Diego State, but he's a veteran ball handler, so don't be surprised to see him get more minutes tomorrow. Like Brown, he's more of a threat as a passer than a perimeter shooter.

A pair of bulky juniors - 6'8'' Richard Howell and 6'9'' DeShawn Painter - are the Wolf Pack's two best post players. Howell (11.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg) is a force in the paint. He leads the team in rebounds and weight (250 pounds) and he's a difficult player to stop inside. Against San Diego State, he led the Wolf Pack with 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting, with almost all of his production under the basket. Painter (6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg) is more of a role player, but against the Aztecs' undersized frontcourt, Painter scored nine points in 19 minutes of action. Neither Howell nor Painter is a threat to hit perimeter shots.

On the wings for NC State are 6'6'' junior Scott Wood and 6'5'' senior C.J. Williams. Wood (12.4 ppg) is NC State's best shooter. He hits 40.8% of his three-point attempts and shoots over 90% from the free throw line. He's also connected on more three-pointers (89) than most of the team combined. Needless to say, he's the one guy that the Hoyas need to watch closely on the perimeter. C.J. Williams (10.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg) is a savvy veteran who does a little bit of everything. He's a good shooter and a solid defender and is surprisingly good on the glass.

Keys to the Game:

1. Force Perimeter Shots: NC State will try to pound the ball inside and take it right to us. As has become the norm for this long Georgetown team, we can expect to see a lot of zone. If NC State wants to beat us, they'll have to do it from the perimeter. Leslie, Wood and the two bigs are very adept around the rim. We need to extend the zone and make them go over the top. Pay close attention to Scott Wood, though. He's the one guy who can really burn us from deep.

2. Attack the Glass: NC State has a number of strong interior players who are tough on the boards and frequently get a lot of easy putbacks. The Hoyas have been solid all year on the defensive glass and that can't change on Sunday. NC State's interior players remind me of West Virginia's and Cincinnati's post players. And that kind of makes me nervous.

3. Stop Lorenzo Brown: Everyone focuses on C.J. Leslie, but without Lorenzo Brown, NC State struggles to score. Brown is the real playmaker. His ability to get in the lane and either shoot or dump the ball off to interior players is a crucial reason why NC State has stepped up recently. Against Belmont, we had to shut down Kerron Johnson. Against NC State, we need to shut down Lorenzo Brown.

4. Keep Henry on the Court: We need Hank Sims in this game. Period. He's been solid in his last few outings and we'll need him in a major way against NC State. If he picks up two quick fouls, as he did against Belmont, we may struggle early on.

5. Hollywood: For whatever reason, Hollis has struggled to find his shot recently. Against NC State, we won't be able to get all of our points in the paint. We'll need to be more balanced than usual, which means guys like Jason and Hollis and Whitt and Markel will need to keep the defense honest by knocking down long-distance shots. This is the game where Hollis needs to step up.

We won an NCAA Tournament game. Congratulations. I'm not satisfied, and the players shouldn't be satisfied yet, either. We didn't go from Beijing to Maui to Columbus so we could lose to some middle-of-the-road ACC team.

Tomorrow's game will feature the winners of the 1983 and 1984 NCAA championships. But no one will care about that. The only thing on the line will be a trip to St. Louis and a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.

I want it, you want it, America wants it. Time to rise to the occasion and take the next step. Let's do this.

Let's go Hoyas. Beat NC State.

Stay Casual, my friends.

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