Game time: 7 p.m., Wednesday
Site: PNC Arena, Raleigh
Spread: The game is a pick.
Series: Syracuse leads 6-3 and won the only meeting last season (75-66 in Syracuse).
Television: ESPN2. Radio: WRAL-150; SiriusXM channel 84. Internet live-stream: ESPN3.com, WatchESPN app.
1) Abu in the middle
The weak spot of any zone is the middle. That means junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu will have a chance to continue his recent hot streak.
Abu has averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds the past three games. He has shot 60 percent or better in each of the past three games, too. Abu also had success last season against the Orange with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
2) Contest shots
Seems obvious enough but this has been tricky for the Wolfpack. Louisville took 60 shots on Sunday and more than half (31) were uncontested. You can’t just let guys take open shots. That doesn’t work as a strategy, at least not as a long-term successful one.
Syracuse has found its way recently in ACC play after a rough start outside the league. The Orange got eight 3-pointers from Andrew White (4-10), John Gillon (2-4) and Tyler Lydon (2-5) in their 82-72 home win over Florida State on Saturday. White (5-10) and Lydon (3-6) were also hot in last week’s 81-76 win over Wake Forest.
If N.C. State just collapses in the middle of its zone and allows wings to take open shots, the Orange will pick up their first conference road win of the season.
3) Be like Georgia Tech
Do you know which team doesn’t care about anything and is just playing free without worry or a hint of any burden expectation?
Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets were pegged to finish 14th in a 15-team league, and only because Boston College, coming off of a winless conference season, was an option behind them.
Then the Jackets upset North Carolina, and then Clemson and then N.C. State and then Florida State and then Notre Dame and you know what? Georgia Tech’s not a bad team. Actually, they’re a dangerous team precisely because they don’t care, they just play.
N.C. State entered the season full of hope. It hasn’t worked out well but at the halfway point of the ACC schedule, there’s still a chance to throw caution to the wind and just play.
In Mark Gottfried’s favorite words to star guard Cat Barber, “You be you, Cat be Cat.” State needs to be State and not the one from the miserable losses to North Carolina or Louisville.