Midwest - No. 12 NC State vs. No. 12 Xavier

Posted Mar 16, 2014

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview, Breakdown & Pick: Midwest Region – No. 12 NC State vs. No. 12 Xavier

Line: Xavier -1.5
Why To Pick NC State: The Wolfpack are playing just well enough to come up with one more good performance. Xavier doesn't do enough on defense to stop T.J. Warren if he gets hot – he could take over and be the difference by himself. There isn't enough interior presence from the Musketeers, and there aren't enough forced mistakes coming from the backcourt.
Why To Pick Xavier: Can State do anything if Warren isn't going ballistic? Even if he's hot, can anyone else help the cause? NC State is miserable from three and does next to nothing to force mistakes. As long as Xavier owns the boards – and it should be able to – everything will be okay.
The Pick: Xavier 78-70. Warren will get his, but the rest of the Wolfpack can't hit the glass well enough to avoid the second chance points the Musketeers will generate.

NC State Wolfpack
Head coach: Mark Gottfried Record: 21-13 Conference: ACC

What You Need To Know: Did a hot second half of the season get the Wolfpack into the play-in? A mediocre team throughout most of the season, State won four straight games including a huge win over Syracuse in the ACC tournament before bowing out to Duke. Can the offense work? It went dead cold in a 76-45 loss to Virginia back in January, and it did nothing in a 73-56 loss to Clemson in February. Forward T.J. Warren has been unstoppable, scoring 42 on Boston College and 41 on Miami, hitting the 20-point mark the last 17 games he played in – he missed the Maryland game in January. If he's not on, forget it, but there's the potential for a little bit of a run if the shots are falling.
Strengths: Turnovers, Assist-Turnover Ratio, Warren
Weaknesses: Three Point Shooting, Rebounding, Steals
How Far Will They Go?: The Wolfpack will go as far as T.J. Warren can carry them, and even that won't be enough. The rest of the team won't do enough to help the cause out of the opening night.

Xavier Musketeers
Head coach: Chris Mack Record: 21-12 Conference: Big East

What You Need To Know: The Musketeers won't blow anyone away with their quickness or athleticism, but they execute well and are unselfish enough to keep the ball moving to open spots. Guard Semaj Christon is a quality scorer who also rebounds a bit and sets up his teammates, and he uses his outside jumper to set up his drives to the basket - he's tough and can finish at the rim. Forwards Justin Martin and Matt Stainbrook provide a presence in the paint, but Martin can step away from the bucket some and stretches defenses. Stainbrook is a banger down low who has a nose for the ball. Keep an eye on junior guard Dee Davis. He's a streaky scorer who also is a quality passer in transition.
Strengths: Rebounding, Assists, Shooting Inside The Arc
Weaknesses: Free Throws, Turnovers, Three Point Shooting
How Far Will They Go?: If they can hit the boards well and apply just a wee bit of defense, they could get by St. Louis in the next round – if they can survive the Wolfpack first. They'll get out of the play-in before succumbing in a battle with St. Louis.