NC State seeks rare three-game sweep

When the ACC expanded to a 12-team conference for the 2005-06 season, the first 5 versus 12 game in the tournament was an upset special. Twelfth seeded Wake Forest knocked off fifth-seeded Florida State 78-66, and in the process probably derailed the Seminoles hope of an at-large NCAA Tournament bid despite a 20-win regular season and 9-7 ACC record.
Sound familiar?
NC State comes into the ACC Tournament this year at 20-11 overall and 9-7 in the ACC. They'll face 12th-seeded Boston College, 9-21 overall and 4-11 in the league, in the first round. Although the Pack will be heavily favored against the young Eagles, history suggests it's no sure thing. The 12th seed has defeated the five seed in four of the six matchups between the two teams.
The Wolfpack will also be looking to pull off another rarity, a three-game sweep of an ACC opponent. The last time State pulled that off was 2007 when the Pack, a five-win team in conference action during the regular season, swept Virginia Tech, one of seven teams from the league to make the NCAA Tournament, including knocking the Hokies off in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament before losing to UNC in the conference title game.
NC State's wins this year over Boston College were a tale of two victories. The first contest was in the RBC Center in Raleigh Jan. 18, and it was really no contest. With 3:13 to go, a vicious dunk from sophomore forward C.J. Leslie put the Pack up 72-50. The Eagles made it a tad more respectable in the final margin, with NCSU eventually winning 76-62.
The Wolfpack used heavy defensive pressure to force the pace. All five NC State starters had at least two steals in the game, and as a team State finished with 16 steals, four more than any amount they had in any other game this season. Senior wing C.J. Williams led the way with four, matching his career high, despite leaving the game with a shoulder injury.
NC State also had a 44-28 edge in rebounding and shot 51.6 percent from the field compared to just 40.3 percent for the Eagles. That represented the Wolfpack's second-best shooting percentage in a game during conference action.
As dominating the first victory was, the second triumph over Boston College on Feb. 1 at the Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass., was equally ugly. The Pack pulled out a 56-51 win after the Eagles effectively slowed the game down. Unlike the first contest when BC had 17 turnovers, the Eagles did a better job protecting the ball with 12 turnovers and controlled the pace.
The result was 45 field goal attempts for NC State, the fourth fewest in a game and one behind the 44 shots against Texas, Virginia and Virginia Tech respectively. In those games however, NC State shot at least 23 free throws every time (44 against Texas). Against Boston College, the Pack shot just 17 free throws.
The combined 94 field goal attempts were the fewest taken in a game this year involving NC State. The next fewest were 97 against Texas, a game that featured 69 free throws attempts. There were 30 free throws shot at Boston College. Neither team had a run better than six unanswered points in the contest.
Two clear trends emerged in the games that should be indicators to how the first round matchup will play out. One is Boston College's three-point shooting. The Eagles shot the three 27 times in Raleigh and 17 times in Chestnut Hill. Three-point attempts accounted for almost 40 percent of BC's shot attempts.
The other is the pace of the game. The two teams shot a combined 126 times in State's blowout win in Raleigh, just 97 in the close affair in Chestnut Hill.
The faster the tempo the bigger the advantage to NC State, but if Boston College starts making threes at a good clip, which they did not do in either game against NC State earlier this year, the Eagles may have an equalizer.
Boston College preview
NC State 2011-12 roster
NC State schedule/results
NC State season stats
Boston College roster
Boston College schedule/results
Boston College season stats
Game facts
NC State (20-11, 9-7 ACC) vs. Boston College (9-21, 4-12 ACC)
Game time: Thursday, March 8, 2 p.m. - Philips Arena, Atlanta, Ga.
Television: ACC Network/ESPN
Probable starters
NC State
PG - 2 Lorenzo Brown (6-5, 189, Soph., 12.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 6.3 apg, 1.7 spg)
SG - 21 C.J. Williams (6-5, 224, Sr., 11.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1.1 spg)
SF - 15 Scott Wood (6-6, 175, Jr., 12.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
PF - 5 C.J. Leslie (6-8, 209, Soph., 14.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.1 spg, 1.7 bp, 1.0 apg)
C - 1 Richard Howell (6-8, 250, Jr., 10.8 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.0 spg)
Boston College
G - 10 Jordan Daniels (5-8, 153, Fr., 6.3 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 rpg)
G - 20 Lonnie Jackson (6-3, 170, Fr., 8.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.7 apg)
G - 14 Matt Humphrey (6-5, 192, Jr., 10.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.6 apg)
F - 12 Ryan Anderson (6-8, 217, Fr., 10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.0 apg)
C - 24 Dennis Clifford (7-0, 241, Fr., 9.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.1 apg)
Scouting Boston College
Location: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Nickname: Eagles
2010-11 record: 21-13
2011 postseason: Lost 85-67 to Northwestern in the second round of the NIT.
Coach: Steve Donahue, 176-172 overall (10th year) and 30-34 at Boston College (second year)
Series: Boston College leads 8-5
Last meeting: NC State won 56-51 on Feb. 1 in Chestnut Hill.
Boston College: Although Boston College leads the all-time series against the Pack, the schools are 5-5 since the Eagles joined the ACC ... This is the first-ever meeting between the squads in the ACC Tournament ... BC has lost five of its last six games heading into the tournament ... Rookie Ryan Anderson was one of two unanimous selections to the league's All-Freshman team; him and Duke's Austin Rivers were both named on all 61 ballots ... Anderson, who leads all conference rookies with an average of 7.2 rebounds per game, is just the second player in program history to earn an All-Rookie honor ... The freshman also ranks second among ACC first-year players in scoring average (10.8) and he has led his team in rebounding for each of the last nine games ... The Eagles are 6-6 all-time in the ACC Tournament ... BC ranks third in the league for 3-point field goals made per game (7.3) and they have hit at least five shots from downtown in 26 of 30 games this year ... In addition to Anderson, three other rookies average at least 8.0 points per game ... Junior transfer Matt Humphrey, another newcomer, is averaging 10.5 points per game ... Newcomers to the squad - Boston College welcomed 12 new players before the season - have accounted for 84 percent of the total minutes played, 91 percent of the points scored, 80 percent of the rebounds and 85 percent of the assists.
NC State: The Wolfpack is 3-3 in ACC Tournament games played in Atlanta, and won the 1983 ACC Tournament en route to a National Title; that was the first ACC Tournament hosted by the city ... NC State has been the No. 5 seed in the tournament in 1957, 1963, 1972, 1977 and 1999 ... The Pack is 3-5 when playing in the ACC Tournament as the No. 5 seed ... State has won four of the last five vs. the Eagles ... NCSU is the only team in the league to have five players listed among the ACC's top 25 scoring leaders ... State won 20 regular-season games for the first time since the 2005-06 season and secured its first winning record against conference foes for the first time since the same year ... The Pack has outscored its opponents 196-158 in the paint over its previous six outings ... Forward C.J. Leslie is averaging 20.3 points and 10.5 rebounds over the Pack's last four games ... Big man Richard Howell is the ACC's third-leading rebounder with a clip of 9.3 per game ... Point man Lorenzo Brown is just five assists from tying Spudd Webb for seventh on the Pack's all-time single-season list (199) ... NC State was picked to finish eighth in the ACC Preseason Poll done by the media, but ended up in a tie for fourth ... Three NC State players will be making their homecoming to Georgia - Howell, Brown and rookie Jaqawn Raymond ... NC State ranks atop the ACC for assisted field goals made; State has recorded an assist of 499 of its 825 made shots, which is 60.5 percent.