NC State (24-9) vs. (9) Miami-Florida (25-6)
Saturday, March 16, 1 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Greensboro Coliseum (23,500) -- Greensboro, North Carolina. Television: ESPN, ACC Network. Home Record: NCST 16-1, Miami 14-1. Away Record: NCST 3-7, Miami 10-3. Neutral Record: NCST 5-1, Miami 1-2. Conference Record: NCST 11-7, Miami 15-3. Series Record: NC State leads, 9-5.
GAME NOTES: The top-seeded Miami-Florida Hurricanes and the fifth-seeded NC State Wolfpack meet up in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon at Greensboro Coliseum.
The winner will be awarded a slot in Sunday's championship game to face off with either North Carolina or Maryland.
While NC State has not lived up to its lofty expectations this season, it is still in the midst of a strong campaign with a 24-9 overall record. The Wolfpack are one of the hottest teams in the ACC, winning eight of their last 10 games, including a 80-63 victory over Virginia Tech in the first round of the conference tournament and a 75-56 triumph over Virginia in Friday's quarterfinals.
Despite losing three of its last five games to end the regular season, Miami still earned the ACC title and was awarded the No. 1 seed in the tournament. After enjoying a bye in the first round, the Hurricanes had their hands full with Boston College in their quarterfinal-round bout, but they managed to escape with a 69-58 triumph to improve to 25-6 this season, setting themselves up for a high seed in next week's NCAA Tournament.
In the only meeting between the two teams this season, Miami went into Raleigh on Feb. 2 and defeated then-nationally-ranked NC State, 79-78. The Wolfpack still lead the all-time series, 9-5.
NC State opened up a nine-point lead at the half against Virginia in its quarterfinal bout and its lead was never in danger from that point forward. It shot 45.8 percent from the floor, including 8-of-16 from 3-point range, had an impressive 13-of-16 showing from the free-throw line, and held a dominating 39-28 advantage on the boards. Scott Wood was fantastic on the perimeter, shooting 7-of-12 on the afternoon, all from beyond the arc, for 23 points. T.J. Warren and C.J. Leslie netted 18 and 17 points, respectively, while Richard Howell hauled in 12 rebounds. The Wolfpack have been one of the strongest offensive teams in the nation this season, shooting 49.4 percent from the field for 77.7 ppg. Leslie (15.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Howell (12.8 ppg, 10.7 ppg) are one of the best forward duos in the country, while Lorenzo Brown is the ACC's top floor general with 12.3 ppg, 7.2 apg and 2.0 apg. Wood (12.4 ppg) is lights-out from 3-point range (96-of-220), while Warren also nets 12.4 ppg.
Miami trailed Boston College at the half on Friday, and the squads continued to play tight until, with the game tied 55-55 with 3:23 left the play, the Hurricanes finished on a 14-3 run to pull out the victory. They shot 48.1 percent from the field in the winning effort and were pace by a 20-point performance from Shane Larkin. Kenny Kadji tallied a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Trey McKinney Jones netted 12 points. On the season, Miami plays well on both ends of the floor, scoring 69 ppg, holding opponents to less that 60 ppg, and out-shooting others from the field, 45.8 percent to 39.4 percent. Larkin leads the way with 13.9 ppg and adds 4.4 apg and 2.0 spg. Kadji is strong in the trenches with 13.6 ppg, 7.0 rpg and 1.4 bpg, while Durand Scott rounds out the double-digit scorers with 12.8 ppg.
As NC State has shown lately, there are few teams in the nation more dangerous when its starting five is clicking on all cylinders. An upset over the top- seeded Hurricanes is certainly within reason, but Miami has the right defensive frame of mind to slow down the Wolfpack and soldier on towards the championship game.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Miami-Florida 75, NC State 70
03/16 11:01:09 ET