ACC Basketball

Know Your Opponent | LSU Tigers

LSU Tigers

NC State was struggling for a large stretch of this season and after losing five of seven in late February and into early January, they sat at 14-11 overall, 5-7 in ACC play. Any thought of an invite to the Big Dance was comical. However, the Wolfpack finally started to play some defense and started to pile up victories, winning six of seven, including a pair of wins over Louisville and North Carolina. However, in the ACC Tournament Semifinals, they ran into a motivated and prepared Duke team and had their asses handed to them. Luckily by then, NC State was a lock for the NCAA Tournament.

They landed in the East Region as the 8-seed and will face…

CONFERENCE: Southeastern Conference
RECORD: 22-10 (11-7)
RPI: #54
BPI: #41
KEN POM: #43

ADjO: #75
ADjD: #38

Thanks to weak non-conference schedule and playing in a weak SEC, the Tigers only have five games against the RPI’s top-50 (going 3-2), although a decent 12-5 against the top-100. They started the season slow, losing to both Old Dominion and Clemson, both in the PARADISE JAM in the Virgin Islands. However, they managed to take their next eight, including an impressive one-point road win at West Virginia on December 4.

In SEC play, LSU pulled off a handful of impressive wins over Georgia, Mississippi and Florida (all top-50 in Ken Pom’s ratings), but struggled against inferior foes like Missouri, Mississippi State and Auburn. However, the Tigers are best known for a loss this season, coming closer than anyone else to beating Kentucky. In fact, they had a six-point lead with under seven to play and still led 69-66 at the four-minute mark, but the Wildcats would finish the game on a 5-0 run to seal the deal.

The defeat gave LSU confidence, as they would take five of their next seven games to get to 22 wins, before being upset in their only SEC Tournament game to Auburn in overtime (their sixth overtime game of the season).

G – Jalyn Patterson
G – Keith Hornsby
G – Tim Quarterman
F – Jordan Mickey
F – Jarell Martin

G – Josh Gray
F – Brian Bridgewater
F – Aaron Epps
C- Darcy Malone

The Tigers are a work in progress. They’re young (thanks to a trio of offseason dismissals), with zero seniors in the rotation, starting three sophomores and a freshman. At best, they really only go about seven deep, as neither Malone (a 7-footer) or Epps gets a ton of minutes right now.

They’re primarily known for playing solid D, 21st in Effective FG% overall. They’re good defending both the three (40th in 3P%) and inside the arc (37th). They can block shots (22nd), making things difficult with two of the better big men in the SEC, Jarell Martin and Jordan Mickey.

In fact, the interior combination of Martin and Mickey is what the Tigers are about as both earned first-team All-SEC honors. They combine to average 32.4 points and 19 rebounds per game. From deep, LSU doesn’t have much to offer, as only Keith Hornsby (yes, you know that name) is the only decent outside shot (39% from three). Overall, they’re not a good three-point shooting team (192nd), but at least they’re smart enough to know they’re not good at it, as they don’t take a ton from beyond the arc (300th).

Overall, there are four main issues with this ball club. First, they’re not deep, especially inside. In the overtime loss to Auburn, their “twin towers” played 43 minutes each, while four different starters logged 38+ minutes. They’re big boys, but the Wolfpack can through four big boys of their own at them.

Second, despite the fact Martin and Mackey are so good inside and actually grab offensive rebounds at a high rate (79th), they’re terrible at defensive rebounding (266th). Of course youth plays a part in that, by simply not getting good position on the defensive side.

Third, they don’t get to the free throw line a lot (267th). All good teams need free points. The Tigers only get to the line 19 times per game and hit under 69% from that line.

Lastly, turnovers have been a big problem this season. Four different players average at least two turnovers per contest, as they give it up 14 times per game. However, since Tom Quarterman was inserted into the starting lineup as a point-forward, LSU has held onto the ball better.

NC State is better. They’re more experienced, especially on the wing. Defensively they’re not going to shutdown M&M, but the combination of Kyle Washington and Beejay “Block Party” Anya can make life difficult even for the most polished big men.

The difference though is outside the paint. Not only can the Wolfpack get smoking hot from deep, thanks to Trevor Lacey and Ralston Turner (a former LSU Tiger), but they are a team that thrives on turnovers and pushing the ball up court off defensive rebounds with Anthony “Cat” Barber, one of the quickest guard in the tournament. That combination has allowed the Wolfpack to go on 17-0 runs on Clemson and 27-4 runs against Syracuse.

Look for NC State to start off sluggish, as they have tended to do, but that run will come and they’ll put LSU away.



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