NC STATE WOLFPACK vs. AKRON ZIPS
Where: Daytona, FL
Records: NC State (1-0), Akron (0-1)
Television: None (Online Streaming from GlennWilkesClassic.com)
Where To Watch In Raleigh: The Brickhouse Sports Bar and Grill (3801 Hillsborough St.)
On Friday afternoon the Wolfpack will take on the favorite to win the MAC, the Akron Zips. Sporting a senior laden line-up, the Zips are an experienced squad looking to notch their first win of season. Last week, Akron fell to Austin Peay (whom the Pack will play on Saturday) in true heartbreaking fashion. With 5:26 left to play, Akron held a 12 point advantage, only to see Austin Peay reel off the next 17 points, en route to the victory.
With the Zips, it may not be the starting five you need to focus on. In their opening game, the bench players out-scored the starters 47-30, led by junior guard Steve McNeese with 14, and the infamous three point threat, 'Humpty' Higgins with 12.
Friday will mark the third time NC State has faced Akron. The Pack has won the first two contests rather handily (in 1947 and 1969). NC State also owns a 3-0 record against all MAC teams.
The Wolfpack will most likely be without senior Farnold Degand (coaches decision- grades) according to head coach Sidney Lowe at his weekly radio show. The absence of Degand, the fastest player on the squad, could certainly hamper the Pack's attempts to push the pace. This will mean finding ways to score out of the half court set, when forced to do so. Lowe is tinkering with a few ideas, including moving the sharp shooting freshman, Scott Wood, to the two, enabling him to get more floor time. He also mentioned allowing Tracy Smith to operate out of the 4, meaning freshman Jordan Vandenberg could see extended time this weekend. Vandenberg has been a shock to fans who figured his lack of recruitment equated to a lack of talent. That theory has been put to rest as Vandenberg is now a fan favorite thanks to his presence in the middle, his intense nature and his sneaky athleticism.
Another reason you may see a bit more of Vandenberg is to off-set Akron's 7 foot freshman, Zeke Marshall. Marshall, a heralded freshman who shunned schools such as Pitt, Virginia and Virginia Tech for Akron. Ranked as the 7th best center in the nation, he chose Akron, in part, because he wanted to bring a small school to national prominence and doesn't think you need to play in a power conference to get drafted.
"A lot of high-ranked players are starting to go to smaller schools," Marshall said to ESPN. "You can make The League without going to a big school."
Although, at the end of the day, the team with the most baskets win, limiting turnovers and pressure defense will certainly be a deciding factor in this one, as usual for NC State. The Zips only committed 9 turnovers in their first contest, a number expected for an experienced roster. The Pack also, surprisingly, only had 9 turnovers in their opener. A surprisingly low number, taking into consideration the amount of freshmen logging minutes for State.
The Glenn Wilkes Classic will certainly be a test for this young NC State team. Playing three games in three days away from home will tell a lot. It will help head Coach Lowe get a gauge of who to play and when to play them. It will tell if this young team is ready for to compete against the big boys, and it will test the togetherness of a team that swears by their chemistry. It should be an exciting weekend. Stay tuned, as we're in Daytona covering it every step of the way.