Though North Carolina State slumped into the ACC tournament in a season that saw the Wolfpack fall short of admittedly lofty expectations, in the conference tourney the team was able to demonstrate some of the potential that led many to believe this team was an easy favorite for the regular season conference title. Strong performances over Virginia Tech and Virginia set a tone for what this team could be in the Big Dance, and a loss to Miami in the tournament semi-finals is hardly something to lose too much sleep over.
In some ways, facing Temple is a bit like NC State facing itself. Like the Wolfpack, Temple looked very strong earlier in the year but struggled in conference play before mostly righting the ship late. Both teams have a potent offense and a defense that often seems indifferent at times. Yet in the team’s differences, we may have the keys to the game. There are two main ways to win a game: shoot better than the other team or shoot more than the other team. Against NC State, it seems likely that Temple will shoot more.
A lot of the offensive efficiency of the Temple Owls is due to the great care that the team takes with the ball. The Owls turn the ball over on only 16.2% of possessions, which is the 9th best rate in the country. Couple that with the indifference of the Wolfpack to forcing turnovers (outside of Lorenzo Brown‘s individual brilliance) and it looks like Temple has an inside track to gaining a few extra possessions through ball control. Against many foes, NC State has been able to offset discrepancies in turnovers with excellence in offensive rebounding, but Temple may have an antidote to Richard Howell‘s relentless attack on the glass. Anthony Lee has consistently been one of the best defensive rebounders in college basketball all season, and though he likely won’t be able to keep Howell boxed out on every carom, he certainly seems equipped to have a better chance than most. It seems fairly likely that the Owls will end up with a few more shot attempts than the Wolfpack.