Mark Gottfried called himself crazy for scheduling a road game against a dangerous St. Bonaventure team two years ago.
The N.C. State coach feels the same way about the Wolfpacks trip to Cincinnati on Tuesday (5 p.m., ESPN).
Its crazy, but I think its good, Gottfried said. I think its what we need. An early difficult challenge on the road I think will help our team.
In just the second game of the season, N.C. State (1-0) will play on an opponents home floor. Duke wont do that until January. Gottfried will also take his young team to Tennessee on Dec. 18 before ACC play starts.
Tuesdays game against the Bearcats (1-0), which is a part of ESPNs 24-hour hoops marathon, fits Gottfrieds philosophy of scheduling to build a resume for the NCAA tournament.
The 67-65 win against St. Bonaventure was one of the main reasons the Wolfpack got an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in Gottfrieds first season in 2012.
Cincinnati, a former Big East member now in the American Athletic Conference, has made the NCAA tournament the past three seasons under coach Mick Cronin.
The Bearcats have always been a tough, defensive-minded team and this group is no exception. Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick, who averaged 17 points and 5.2 rebounds last season, had 22 points and seven rebounds in Cincinnatis season-opening 74-61 win against N.C. Central last Friday.
Gottfried knows the defensive pressure will be turned up compared to the Wolfpacks 98-77 win over Appalachian State in the opener.
They do a great job with their press, Gottfried said. I told our guards, Theyre going to press you from the time you get off the bus. Theyre going to be right in (your) grill.
And weve got to be to handle it.
N.C. State got 12 assists, to only three turnovers, out of the combination of sophomore point guard Tyler Lewis and freshman point guard Cat Barber against Appalachian State.
The Wolfpack also shot 61.9 percent from the floor in the win. The 98 points are the most any State team has scored since a 100-66 win over East Carolina on Nov. 19, 2004.
Sophomore forward T.J. Warren led the Pack with 27 points, while junior guard Desmond Lee added 24 points. Barber, who missed about a week of preseason practice with a concussion, added 13 points to go with six assists.
Given how much of the scoring from last years team Gottfried has to replace, he was encouraged by the offensive output in the groups first game together.
I like the fact that we have the potential to score, Gottfried said. It doesnt mean it will happen every night, but at least we know that we can.
Cincinnati will be a tougher test than Appalachian State, especially on the road. The Bearcats held opponents to 38.7 percent field goal shooting last season and 30.4 percent on 3-pointers.
The Bearcats held N.C. Central to 39.6 percent from the floor (19 of 48) and 21.4 percent from the 3-point line (3 of 14) in the opener.
We will learn under fire early, Gottfried said. Our players are excited about the opportunity to go on the road and play a team like Cincinnati.