Tonight's College Basketball game between NC State & West Virginia should go down to the wire and a win here will look good on the resume come March Madnees. See who we like in this game as our pick.
West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins is hoping that this is the year that his team will win the big one, but it starts off with games like this. Tonight, Huggins and the Mountaineers square off against a tough N.C. State Wolfpack squad in the Gotham Classic. Tip-off is scheduled for 9:30 pm ET tonight at Madison Square Garden in New York City. This game can be seen on ESPN 2.
The Mountaineers as a slight 2.5 point betting favorite on this neutral site and that's due in part to West Virginia having the more difficult schedule. While N.C. State hasn't really played anyone of note, the Mountaineers have beaten Boston College and Connecticut while losing to a tough team in LSU by just 1 point.
The Best Player in This Game
This is a luxury to have, especially in a game most of those placing NCAA Basketball picks expect to go down to the wire. Juwan Staten and most of West Virginia might disagree, but guard Trevor Lacey has gotten off to a super fast start this season.
This is a player that can shoot the lights out at 44.4% from 3-point range. For the season, Lacey leads the Wolfpack at 17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. The ability to be consistent and make smart decisions are what separates Lacey from the rest and he'll be a definite focal point for the West Virginia defense to focus in on. Look for Lacey to have a big game in this spot as Madison Square Garden brings out the best in star players.
He might not be a star player, but Ralston Turner is coming off of a monster 33 point performance against Tennessee in which he was 8 for 17 from 3-point range. Turner is the perfect asset for the Wolfpack to have in this game. He shoots over 90% from the free throw line and if this game were to be close like it should, the Wolfpack would like to see the basketball in the hands of Turner as much as possible.
Inside the Paint
We take a look at the Mountaineers and this is not a good deep shooting team. That said, their ability to rebound the basketball gives them a leg up against the Wolfpack and they'll need big games out of Jonathan Holton and Devin Williams, both of whom average over 7 rebounds per game.
Holton is a very active player down in the paint and is excellent on the defensive end. He's provided a sufficient amount of offense to help his team win games. The one bad game he was against LSU and N.C. State is a team laced with talent.Look for Holton to pass the test the 2nd time around.
Devin Williams has fallen off the map lately. He's been ineffective shooting-wise and hasn't been able to produce much of anything. He needs a big game here or more of the burden of the offense will be left on the shoulders of senior guard Juwan Staten.
Staten isn't a flashy player, but is a consistent producer at 15 points and 4.1 assists per game and that's the kind of a player that a good team needs; a player that can be reliable for each and every game. Staten provides a little extra as he induces turnovers with his ability to pick pockets. Every possession is huge in this game and Juwan Staten could possibly be the difference in the ball game.
This is a tough game to call, but the neutral site and Trevor Lacey give the Wolfpack the edge. I like N.C. State in this spot as an underdog in NCAA Basketball odds for my betting pick.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: N.C. State +2.5 at 5 Dimes