N.C. State (4-1) returns to PNC Arena after winning two of its three games in the Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Loyola (5-1) played in the same tournament but on the other side of the bracket.
1. More Markell
Sophomore wing Maverick Rowan didn’t practice when the team returned from the Paradise Jam and has missed the past four games with a concussion. N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried did not know if Rowan would be able to return against the Ramblers on Saturday.
In Rowan’s absence, freshman guard Markell Johnson has gotten more minutes (27.6 per game) and has given the Wolfpack a boost off the bench. He nine points, six assists and four steals in the opening-round win over Montana.
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2. Return of Kapita
Freshman forward Ted Kapita didn’t travel with the team to the Paradise Jam because of a problem with his student visa. Kapita, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, had 17 points and eight rebounds against St. Francis Brooklyn in his only appearance this season.
The Ramblers don’t have a ton of size but N.C. State struggled in St. Thomas when bigs Abdul-Malik Abu and BeeJay Anya got into foul trouble. Kapita, who’s 6-8 and 219 pounds, provides some options and brings a much-needed aggressive mentality.
3. Making a name
Given the projected draft status of N.C. State freshman Dennis Smith Jr., every opponent sees the chance at playing against him as a chance to impress NBA scouts. Loyola senior guard Milton Doyle, who averages 14.7 points and 5.8 assists per game, will be eager for his chance to test Smith.
Loyola at NC State
When: 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh
TV/radio: ACC Network Extra, 101.5-WRAL