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March 15, 2013

NC State, Virginia switch roles this year

NC State and Virginia are meeting in the ACC quarterfinals for the second-straight year, only the roles have reversed a bit for the programs.

Virginia, who earned the No. 4 seed after narrowly defeating Maryland 61-58 in overtime last Sunday, is squarely on the bubble going into today's 2 p.m. (approximately) game against No. 5-seeded NC State at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. NC State whipped Virginia Tech 80-63 on Thursday.

The Cavaliers have had to play numerous games without senior point guard Jontel Evans (nine games), sophomore power forward Darion Atkins (eight games) and freshman center Mike Tobey (five games), this season. UVa also lost sophomore wing Malcolm Brogdon for the season with a foot injury he suffered last year.

ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi had Virginia as one of his "last four teams in" scenarios Thursday night. UVa sports good wins such as at Wisconsin, and home games against Tennessee, UNC, Duke and NC State, plus a sweep of Maryland.

"I think the 'They have to win one game theory is not actually true,'" NCSU coach Mark Gottfried said. "I think it's fun for everybody around the country [to discuss]. There are 25 teams it sounds like on television where if they win that one game, they are going to get into the tournament. You keep hearing that. That's not actually true."

The Cavaliers defeated the Wolfpack 58-55 on Jan. 29 in Charlottesville in a game marred by junior point guard Lorenzo Brown a little less than 10 minutes into the game. NC State turned to freshman Rodney Purvis and mixed in classmate Tyler Lewis, but UVa made the plays at the end.

"We have great respect for Virginia and we had a tough day up there," Gottfried said. "It just wasn't a good day for us all-together. We have to be a lot better, and I think we will be."

Conversely, the Cavaliers also lost non-conference games at George Mason and Old Dominion, and home vs. Delaware. Virginia also struggled on the road, losing to Wake Forest, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Boston College and Florida State.

NC State was in a similar situation a year ago. The Wolfpack didn't have a sure fire impressive victory to boast and needed to have some success in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack edged the Cavaliers 67-64 on March 13, 2013, in Atlanta.

UVa star Joe Harris had his three-pointer clank out with the Cavs trailing 65-64 in the final seconds of the game. The victory easily became NCSU's most important one for its NCAA Tournament resume. NC State lost a close game the next day against North Carolina and the semifinals, but ended up a No. 11 seed for the Big Dance. Virginia ended up a No. 10 seed.

Gottfried is confident that both his squad and Virginia will both represent the ACC in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens today.

"I think they deserve to be in the tournament," Gottfried said. "Last year, was a little different because we were [7-7] at one point in the league, and we had to win four straight to get to nine. We really needed to turn the perception more than Virginia does now. We had a steeper hill to climb.

"For us, every opportunity was life or death. I don't think they are in that situation, I really don't."

Virginia preview

NC State 2011-12 roster

NC State schedule/results

NC State season stats

Virginia roster

Virginia schedule/results

Virginia season stats

Game facts

No. 19 NC State (23-9) vs. Virginia (21-10)

Game time: Friday, March 15, 2:20 p.m. — Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, N.C.

Television: ACC Network/ESPN2

Probable starters

NC State
PG — 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 186, Jr., 12.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 7.2 apg, 2.0 spg)
SG — 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 169, Sr., 12.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 apg)
SF — 24 T.J. Warren (6-8, 224, Fr., 12.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 0.8
PF — 5 C.J. Leslie (6-9, 200, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.4 apg, 1.0 spg, 1.2 bpg)
C — 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 257, Sr., 13.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg)

PG — 1 Jontel Evans (5-11, 188, Sr., 4.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.9 apg)
SG — 2 Paul Jesperson (6-6, 197, Soph., 5.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.0 apg)
SF — 12 Joe Harris (6-6, 211, Jr., 17.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.1 apg)
SF — 23 Justin Anderson (6-6, 226, Fr., 6.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 1.0 bpg)
PF — 25 Akil Mitchell (6-8, 234, Jr., 13.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg)


Location: Charlottesville, Va.

Nickname: Cavaliers

2011-12 record: 22-10, 9-7 ACC

2012 postseason: Lost 71-45 to Florida in first game of NCAA Tournament

Coach: Tony Bennett, fourth season at Virginia (74-51) and seventh season overall (143-84)

Series: NC State leads 81-59

Last meeting: Virginia won 58-55 on Jan. 29, 2013, in Charlottesville


Virginia: The Cavaliers have gone 6-5 since defeating the Wolfpack. Junior small forward Joe Harris hit three three-pointers en route to 22 points to lead the Cavaliers, but he received helped. Junior power forward Akil Mitchell added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and promising freshman center Mike Tobey came off the bench for 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocks … Harris is shooting 44.4 percent from three-point range, and has scored at least 13 points in all but three games. The first-team All-ACC player exploded for 36 points in UVa's 73-68 win over Duke on Feb. 28. He has tallied at least 20 points in nine games, and has hit at least four three-pointers in seven contests … Mitchell, who is from Charlotte Christian High, has been one of the most improved players in the ACC. He enters the game with five straight games with at least 15 points and three double-doubles during that stretch. Mitchell had 17 points and 10 rebounds in his last game against Maryland, spurring on the 61-58 overtime win that gave the Cavaliers the No. 4 seed and NC State the No. 5. Mitchell has 11 double-doubles this season, and has scored in double figures in all but seven games … The 6-11, 227-pound Tobey broke his wrist during high school and was a bit of a sleeper going into the season. He is averaging 6.5 points and 2.7 rebounds in 13.5 minutes off the bench for the Cavaliers. He missed five games due injury or illness. Tobey ended the season in fine fashion, with 12 points and seven rebounds in a 53-51 loss at Florida State on March 7, and 13 points and six rebounds in the overtime win over Maryland … Senior point guard Jontel Evans, who was named first-team defense in the ACC, has led the Cavaliers to a 14-8 mark in games he has played in. He has scored in double figures just twice this season — 12 points and five assists in a 93-81 loss at North Carolina on Feb. 16, and 10 points and eight assists in a 82-54 win over Georgia Tech on Feb. 24 … Two sophomores round out the starting lineup in wing Paul Jesperson and combo forward Justin Anderson, who is one of the most athletic players in the ACC. Jesperson has started all but one game, but has only reached double figures in two contests. He had a season-high 12 points and went 4 of 4 from 3-point land in a 80-69 win at Maryland on Feb. 10. Jesperson shoots 38.2 percent on 3-pointers, but has struggled of late, going 7 of 22 over his last five games (31.8 percent) … Anderson moved into the starting lineup one game after the NC State victory. He has started the last 10 games, and has reached double figures in three of those contests, including a career-high 17 at Maryland. He was once a Terrapins' verbal commitment. Anderson is shooting 25.5 percent on 3-pointers and has the potential to be a future All-ACC defender … Sophomore post player Darion Atkins got injured Feb. 19, and returned to a bench role March 7 against Florida State. He has played in 23 out of 31 games, starting
12. He is averaging 5.2 points and 3.5 rebounds per game with a season-high 17 in a 75-57 win over Morgan State on Dec. 19 … Freshman forward Evan Nolte has started eight games and is averaging 6.0 points and 2.4 rebounds, and shooting 39.2 percent on 3-pointers. Nolte set a new career-high with18 points and shot 5 of 9 from three-point land in the 73-55 win over Virginia Tech on Jan. 24 … Redshirt freshman point guard Teven Jones, who is from Kannapolis, N.C., has started nine games. He had 13 points and four assists in an 80-64 win over North Texas Nov. 20 … Sophomore wing Malcolm Brogdon is redshirting this season due to a foot injury, and Charlotte native Anthony Gill is sitting out the season due to NCAA rules after transferring from South Carolina. Gill played with Mitchell at Charlotte Christian.

N.C. State NEWS


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