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NC State basketball's non-conference schedule comes together

NC State basketball’s schedule has not been released yet. If past history holds serve it will likely come next week.

However, through the release of other teams’ schedules, the pieces of NC State’s non-conference schedule can be put together. NC State actually opens the year with a home contest against ACC rival Georgia Tech before beginning non-conference action. The ACC has also expanded to 20 league games this year.

The following 11 non-conference games have been confirmed:

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Head coach Kevin Keatts is hoping his schedule will be viewed more favorably this season.
Head coach Kevin Keatts is hoping his schedule will be viewed more favorably this season. (Ken Martin/The Wolfpacker)

Nov. 10 vs. Detroit Mercy: The Pack’s first non-conference opponent of the year went 11-20 a season ago but was more competitive in the Horizon League, going 8-10. It finished in the final NET rankings used by the NCAA at No. 233 (out of 353 teams), but it could have one of the most exciting players NC State will face this year. Head coach Mike Davis, who once led Indiana to a national title game appearance, has his son Antoine Davis, who averaged 26.1 points per game (tops among returning players nationally) and made 132 pointers as a freshman.

Nov. 13 vs. Florida International: A year ago, FIU went 20-14 overall and 10-8 in Conference USA. It was selected to play in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament where it defeated Texas State in the first round and lost to Green Bay in the second. Its final NET ranking was No. 186. It loses top scorer Brian Beard Jr., but returns two double-digit scoring performers, including Raleigh native Trejon Jacob, a senior who played at Millbrook High.

Nov. 16 vs. St. Francis Brooklyn: This is the first of two home games associated with the Barclays Center Classic. A year ago St. Francis went 17-16, including 9-9 in the Northeast Conference, and had a final NET of 257. It lost its leading scorer Jaden Jordan to transfer to Middle Tennessee State, and second-leading scorer Glenn Sanabria exhausted his eligibility.

Nov. 19 vs. Alcorn State: The second of the two homes games linked to the Barclays Center Classic is against a team that went 10-21 last year, including 6-12 in the SWAC, and had the lowest final NET ranking of the teams on the Pack’s schedule (No. 347).

Nov. 23 vs. Arkansas Little Rock: Despite having a top talent in Rayjon Tucker, Little Rock went 10-21 overall and 5-13 in the Sun Belt, finishing with a final NET of 237. Tucker nearly transferred to Memphis, but instead elected to remain in the NBA Draft and is now trying to make the Milwaukee Bucks roster. Little Rock does have experience returning however. Six players who started at least 15 games a year ago are back.

Nov. 28 vs. Memphis in Brooklyn: This is the start of the meat of the non-conference schedule for Pack basketball. The Thanksgiving showdown is part of the Barclays Center Classic and will be played in that venue. Memphis made the NIT last year and had a final NET of 48, but expectations will be higher after head coach Penny Hardaway signed the nation’s top ranked recruiting class, according to Rivals.com.

Dec. 2 vs. Wisconsin: The rematch from last year’s Big 10/ACC Challenge will bring Pack villain Brad Davison, whose charges drawn in a close loss for NCSU last year on the road drew the ire of NC State fans, to PNC Arena. Wisconsin loses star big man Ethan Happ off its NCAA Tournament team, but it returns three starters, including Davison, from a squad whose final NET ranking was No. 20.

Dec. 15 at UNC Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum): The last time NC State faced coach Wes Miller’s squad was in 2017, and UNCG upset the Pack in PNC Arena 81-76. That Spartans squad would go on to make the NCAA Tournament and nearly upset Gonzaga in the first round. Last year’s UNCG went 29-7 overall and 15-3 in the Southern Conference. It was the first team left out of the NCAA Tournament and earned a top seed in the NIT, where it fell in the second round to Lipscomb (who would then beat NC State on its way to the NIT title game). UNCG loses star Francis Alonso but returns four players who started at least 16 games last year.

Dec. 19 at Auburn: The Tigers had high expectations last year but NC State defeated Auburn 78-71 in Raleigh in December. They looked like an underachieving squad until late in the season where it put it together in spectacular fashion, winning the SEC Tournament and then reaching the Final Four (crushing Kansas and UNC and knocking off Kentucky in OT along the way) before it lost to eventual champ Virginia in controversial fashion. It’ll be a new-look Auburn team however. Head coach Bruce Pearl lost five key players including his top three scorers from that Final Four team.

Dec. 22 vs. The Citadel: In one of the final tune-ups before getting into full-time ACC play, NC State will host a team that went 12-18 a year ago, including 4-10 in what was a loaded Southern Conference. Its star from a year ago, Lew Stallworth (20.2 points per game) is gone. As are its next two leading scorers on a team whose final NET was No. 275.

Dec. 29 vs. Appalachian State: In what will presumably be the final game before ACC play, the Mountaineers come to Raleigh with a new head coach — Dustin Kerns, who arrives in Boone after a relatively successful stint at Presbyterian. Appalachian State made the change after going 11-21 a season ago, including 6-12 in the Sun Belt Conference (final NET was No. 213). Leading scorer Ronshad Shabazz (18.3 points per game) is gone, but Kerns inherits a roster that returns two double-digit scorers and four players who started at least 14 games.

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