NC State Wolfpack Will Press the Issue Against Arizona

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 4:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 4:07 PM UTC

Last year, Mark Lathrop started the NCAAB season on a 10-2 ATS run. He's more than halfway there with a blazing 6-1 ATS start in 2017. Read on as he breaks down No. 2 Arizona against the NC State Wolfpack.

2017-18 NCAAB Record: 6-1 (+4.95 Units)

Free NCAAB Pick: NC State +13Best Line Offered: Heritage

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NC State Wolfpack vs. Arizona Wildcats

The undefeated teams of North Carolina State and Arizona meet in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday in the Bahamas. The expectations to win are on Arizona of course, as it is ranked 2nd in the country and favored by 13 points coming into this game. The total has been boosted by these teams playing crappy opponents, as Arizona averages 98.3 points per game and NC State averages 90.2 points. The total opened at 159.5 points at books such as 5Dimes, and has been bet down to 156.5 at books such as Intertops.

North Carolina State has had early success under first-year coach Kevin Keatts. He has changed the Wolfpack's offense to an up-tempo scheme and has the defense in more full-court press. The Wolfpack finished 15-17 last year, with most of the losses coming in conference play in a very competitive ACC. They have started off the year 4-0, but with only one lined game against VMI on Nov. 10. The other games were also blowout wins against Charleston Southern, Bryant, and Presbyterian – not exactly wins to write home about. Their press is working, though, as North Carolina State has forced an average of 23 turnovers per game against these lesser opponents.

Arizona has a slight size advantage against the Wolfpack with notable 7-foot-1 Bahamian freshman Deandre Ayton logging significant minutes. Ayton is from Nassau and is expected to have a home-court crowd during this tournament. Another 7-footer, senior Dusan Ristic, is logging an average of 24 minutes per game and putting up 12.7 points and 7.3 rebounds per. Ristic is perfect from the charity stripe in his first 10 attempts, and if he can keep that pace up and improve over his 77.1% FT shooting last year, he could be a staple in the Arizona rotation. Other than the few inches that Ayton and Ristic have over their Wolfpack counterparts, they have similar-sized rosters.

Size will come into play with NC State having such a huge turnover margin advantage coming into this contest. They average 11 steals and only give up 10 turnovers per game with their new press defense. On the other hand, Arizona only forces 13 turnovers per game and averages 7 steals. Possessions will be the deciding factor here with the Wildcats shooting an insane 58.8% from the floor and 50.9% from 3-point range on the year, as compared to 49.4% from the floor and 26.4% from long range for the Wolfpack. NC State will have to completely hold its turnover edge to win this game, but since they have a huge spread in their favor they won’t have too to cash our tickets. I’ll take North Carolina plus the points as my Wednesday NCAAB pick.

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