NC State has tried to blend of tough opponents and teams that should pad the win total. The Wolfpack are 8-1 with six non-conference games remaining.
The 15 non-conference teams are a combined 66-71 going into today's action. NC State coach Sidney Lowe said there isn't a perfect formula to how he approaches the non-confence schedule. He said some years, two tough games is all that is needed since the Wolfpack play such a challenging ACC schedule.
Florida and Northwestern are the best teams at 8-1, while Marquette is 7-3 and Austin Peay has gone 7-4. Arizona is another name opponent coming up, but the rebuilding Wildcats are 4-5 under former NCSU assistant coach Sean Miller.
Here is a look at who NC State has played, and who awaits the Wolfpack on their schedule:
Georgia State: 5-6 overall; NC State defeated Georgia State 69-53 in the season opener Nov. 12 at the RBC Center in the first game of the Glenn Wilkes Classic. The Panthers have played only one other opponent from a power conference, losing 62-55 at Florida State on Dec. 15, despite 22 points from Wake Forest transfer Joe Dukes a point guard. FSU redshirt sophomore center Solomon Alabi was too dominant inside with 22 points and six blocks. Former NC State guard Marques Johnson, a junior, is averaging 2.2 points,1.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.
RPI ranking:: 220
Best win: Won 49-44 at James Madison (5-4) on Dec. 5.
Worst loss: Losing 60-58 to Florida A&M (1-10) on Dec. 13.
Leading scorer: Senior point guard Joe Dukes, 12.7 points per game.
Akron: 6-3 overall; NC State dominated Akron 66-45 on Nov. 20 in Daytona Beach as part of the Glenn Wilkes Classic. The Zips lost their first two games, but have since won five out of the last six games, including a 74-62 loss at No. 19-ranked Texas A&M on Dec. 4. The Aggies led 26-23 at halftime. Four of the wins were against struggling programs - future opponent North Carolina Greensboro, Howard, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Malone. Akron has seven players averaging between 6.2 points and 8.9.
RPI ranking:: 142
Best win: Won 80-68 over Niagara (7-4) on Nov. 29.
Worst loss: Lost 80-77 to Austin Peay (7-4) in the season opener Nov. 15.
Leading scorer: Sophomore power forward Nikola Cvetinovic, 8.9 points per game.
Austin Peay: 7-4 overall and 2-0 in the Ohio Valley; NC State had a big first half en route to a 66-59 win over Austin Peay on Nov. 21 in the third game of the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach. The Governors were drilled 83-54 at No. 10-ranked Tennessee in their season opener Nov. 13, though the first half was competitive with the Volunteers leading 31-25. Austin Peay has won six out of seven games since playing NC State.
RPI ranking:: 61
Best win: Won 68-66 at Ohio (6-3) on Dec. 9.
Worst loss: Lost 78-72 to Drake (5-5) on Nov. 28.
Leading scorer: Sophomore small forward Anthony Campbell, 15.3 points per game.
Auburn: 5-5 overall; The Wolfpack were the only team in the Glenn Wilkes Classic to go 4-0 with a thrilling win over the Tigers on a Tracy Smith rebound basket in the final seconds to win 60-58 in Daytona Beach. The Tigers split with their other two ACC opponents, defeating Virginia 68-67, but then losing at Florida Sate 76-72. Auburn also suffered losses to Central Florida (7-3) and Missouri State (9-0), both solid mid-major programs.
RPI ranking:: 104
Best win: Won 68-67 over Virginia (4-4) on Dec. 7.
Worst loss: Lost 81-77 to Troy (6-5) on Dec. 4.
Leading scorer: Senior point guard DeWayne Reed, 15.8 points per game.
New Orleans: 5-5 overall and 0-2 in the Sun Belt; NC State cruised by the undermanned New Orleans squad 69-52 at the RBC Center on Nov. 29. New Orleans has posted wins against Southern-New Orleans, Texas State, Mobile and Houston Baptist. The Privateers lost 67-59 to Georgia in Athens, Ga., in their season opener, and also lost two road games to Southern and Troy, and a home contest against Florida Atlantic.
RPI ranking:: 312
Best win: Won 51-50 at Tulane (3-6) on Dec. 2.
Worst loss: Lost 78-73 at Southern (1-9) on Dec. 12.
Leading scorer: Senior shooting guard Billy Humphrey, 19.1 points per game.
Northwestern: 8-1 overall; Northwestern got off to an early lead and never let go, defeating NC State 65-53 on Dec. 1 at the RBC Center in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Northwestern was supposed to struggle some this year when star forward Kevin Coble went down with a season-ending injury. However, the Wildcats posted back-to-back wins over Notre Dame and Iowa State (7-3) in the Chicago Invitational Challenge prior to playing NC State.
RPI ranking:: 53
Best win: Won 72-58 vs. then No. 23-ranked Notre Dame (9-2) on Nov. 27.
Worst loss: Lost 67-54 to then No. 11-ranked Butler (7-3) on Nov. 18.
Leading scorer: Junior point guard Michael Thompson, 17.2 points per game.
Marquette: 7-3 overall; NC State played its first true road game of the season, and overcame a shaky first half to roll 77-73 over Marquette on Dec. 5 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Marquette posted big back-to-back wins over Xavier and then No. 15-ranked Michigan in the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at Disney World. However, the Golden Eagles have stumbled a little, losing to Florida State in the title game of the Classic, then NC State and then No. 20-ranked Wisconsin in three out of their last four games.
RPI ranking:: 69
Best win: Won 71-61 vs. Xavier on Nov. 26.
Worst loss: Lost 57-56 to Florida State in the Old Spice Classic title game Nov. 29.
Leading scorer: Senior forward Lazar Hayward, 18.8 points per game
Georgia Southern: 3-9 overall and 0-2 in the Southern; The Wolfpack played their first game of the season at historic Reynolds Coliseum, and easily defeated Georgia Southern 75-57 on Dec. 12. Georgia Southern has wins over lower level Reinhardt and Arkansas-Fort Smith, along with Troy. The Eagles have played seven road games, including losses at South Carolina 90-66, and at Florida 69-49.
RPI ranking:: 282
Best win: Won 80-77 against Troy (6-5) on Nov. 29.
Worst loss: Lost 89-67 to Jacksonville State (5-4) on Nov. 21.
Leading scorer: Senior guard Willie Powers, 14.5 points per game.
Elon: 3-8 overall and 1-1 in the Southern; Elon did all the right things to pull off the shocking upset, but the 1-2 inside punch of senior power forward Dennis Horner and junior center Tracy Smith proved to be too much in the 79-76 win by the Wolfpack at the RBC Center. Elon lost 90-50 at Wake Forest on Dec. 13, and 75-61 to Charlotte on Nov. 16. The Phoenix also suffered losses to UNC-Wilmington, Yale, Hofstra and Coastal Carolina, among their eight defeats.
RPI ranking:: 213
Best win: Won 82-63 at UT-Chattanooga (5-5) on Dec. 5.
Worst loss: Lost 55-31 at Samford (3-7) on Dec. 3.
Leading scorer: Senior center Adam Constantine, 11.8 points per game.
Upcoming non-conference games
Dec. 23, at Arizona: 4-5 overall; The Wildcats have struggled under first-year coach Sean Miller and dependence on several freshmen, including second-leading scorer Derrick Williams, who is averaging 14 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Arizona lost 65-61 at Wisconsin, at then No. 24-ranked Vanderbilt, and a narrow double overtime defeat vs. UNLV, 74-72, who took over the No. 24 ranking the next week from the Commodores. The Wildcats have also lost to Oklahoma and San Diego State. Rice, Northern Arizona, Colorado and Louisiana Tech are the four wins.
RPI ranking:: 90
Best win: Won 83-67 against Louisiana Tech (9-2) on Dec. 9.
Worst loss: Lost 63-46 at San Diego State (8-2) on Dec. 12.
Leading scorer: Senior point guard Nic Wise, 16.0 points per game.
Dec. 29, Winthrop: 5-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big South; Winthrop has won twice against South Carolina Upstate, and also against Limestone, Barton College and High Point for its five wins. Then No. 23-ranked Clemson smoked the Eagles 102-66 on Nov. 23, with six players scoring in double figures. Junior point guard Justin Burton, who is averaging 5.4 points per game and is from nearby Durham Riverside High, had a team-high 13 points against Clemson. Reserve point guard Reggie King starred at Arden (N.C.) Christ School the last two years.
RPI ranking:: 262
Best win: Won 82-68 against High Point (4-4) on Dec. 5.
Worst loss: Lost 70-51 at Appalachian State (6-4) on Nov. 30.
Leading scorer: Sophomore guard Andre Jones, 9.7 points per game.
Dec. 31, at UNC Greensboro: 2-7 overall and 1-1 in the Southern; The Spartans opened up the season with a brutal three-game stretch, all losses, at Duke (96-62), at Virginia Tech (59-46) and a home loss to Clemson (89-67). UNC Greensboro has also lost to Akron, East Carolina, College of Charleston and Princeton. The two lone wins came against South Carolina Upstate and Samford. UNC-G has three straight home games against Wake Forest (Dec. 28), NC State and Maryland (Jan. 3).
RPI ranking:: 222
Best win: Won 73-40 at Samford (3-7) on Dec. 5.
Worst loss: Lost 65-50 to Princeton (5-4) on Dec. 13.
Leading scorer: Senior forward Ben Stywall, 13.0 points per game.
Jan. 3, Florida: 8-1 overall; The Gators made a splash with back-to-back win over Florida State and then at Michigan State, which was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time. Florida came down to earth a little with a loss to Syracuse in the Big East/SEC Challenge on Dec. 10. Freshman guard Kenny Boynton has supplied some offensive punch, and junior center Vernon Macklin has fit in well after transferring from Georgetown. Macklin is averaging 10.6 points and 5.7 rebounds. Former NC State signee Dan Werner has started all nine games, and is averaging 7.7 points and 4..6 rebounds out of the power forward slot.
RPI ranking:: 46
Best win: Won 77-74 at then No. 2-ranked Michigan State (8-2) on Nov. 27.
Worst loss: Lost 85-73 to then No. 7-ranked Syracuse (10-0) on Dec. 10.
Leading scorer: Freshman shooting guard Kenny Boynton, 14.6 points per game.
Jan. 6, Holy Cross: 2-8 overall; Holy Cross have played six out of its first 10 games on the road, and against some solid programs. Harvard and Loyola are both off to 7-2 starts, while Fairfield is 8-2. The Crusaders also suffered losses at Rhode Island, UNLV and UMass. Most of the defeats haven't been close, but Holy Cross lost at St. Joseph's 69-67, and to Loyola Chicago 76-73.
RPI ranking:: 237
Best win: Won 85-79 at Brown (4-7) on Dec. 2.
Worst loss: Lost 64-54 at Western Michigan (3-4) on Nov. 28.
Leading scorer: Sophomore shooting guard R.J. Evans, 13.5 points per game.
Jan. 30, North Carolina Central: 2-8 overall; North Carolina Central, which is an independent program, has 12 home games, and the rest on the road. The Eagles, who are based out of nearby Durham, lost 89-42 to North Carolina and 83-53 at Miami from the ACC. NCCU has also lost to Isiah Thomas and Florida International, along with Iowa, Air Force, Murray State, James Madison and Florida Gulf Coast. NC Central's two wins have come against winless Carver Bible and North Carolina Wesleyan.
RPI ranking:: 335
Best win: Won 85-70 over North Carolina Wesleyan (3-7) on Nov. 18.
Worst loss: Lost 76-67 to Florida Gulf Coast (3-6) on Dec. 16.
Leading scorer: Junior shooting guard C.J. Wilkerson, 14.2 points per game.