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North Carolina State @ Cincinnati

by: Rich Salvatori @dickiesalvatori - posted on: 11-Nov-2013

Mark Gottfried has to be a bit disappointed that he did not capitalize more prior to the dispersement of an incredibly promising team the last two years. The Wolfpack had legitimate Final Four aspirations a season ago, but were unable to find enough depth to make it deep into the tournament.

A talented but extremely thin roster loses four starters. T.J. Warren returns to shoulder the load for the Wolfpack, but he doesn’t have a ton around him. Anthony Barber could prove to be a special player at the point, but he needs experience. Two transfers in Ralston Turner and Desmond Lee should also help the cause, but its going to take them time to figure out the rigors of the ACC.

Turner, however, is a very interesting piece. he was a consensus top 100 recruit coming out of Alabama who originally committed to L.S.U. He left a year and a half ago and bring his talents to Raleigh in the hope of getting an immediate opportunity at success.

At 6'6, he is both well built and fluid with the ball in his hands. His issues in Baton Rouge were the result of him being asked to take on a much larger role than he should have been handed early, and it caused a strain on the youngster's excision making.

Turner had all of 2012 to practice with a very good Wolfpack team and learn their offense inside and out. He got to observe more veteran guards and that should help him this season. He can be a very good player if he just trusts in Gottfried's offense.

Fortunately for N.C. State, Cincinnati is a group that also had some roster change. Sean Kilpatrick is a stud guard, but the only starter who returns for Mack Cronin. Jeremiah Davis and Ge’Lawn Guyn figure to provide some stability for the lineup at the guard spot, while Shaquille Thomas (6’7, 190) could prove to be a matchup nightmare for many. 

Cincy was very up tempo in the preseason last year, but their pace numbers fell off after getting into Big East Conference play (where scoring goes to die). Should Cincy be willing to play faster here, it benefits N.C. State as that is the style Gottfried is more accustomed to. 

Whether or not he desires to go that route with a group that is young and not used to playing with each other is anyone's guess. The question marks surrounding both teams have me hesitant to pick a side here although I feel that the early spread of 'Nati -7 is very fair. Having a proven scorer like Kilpatrick is an important advantage regardless of how this game progresses. 

Keep an eye on N.C. State inside. The Bearcats figure to have the better group in the front court as Cronin stockpiles his teams with defensive-minded bigs. The same cannot be said for Gottfried, and should they get hammered in the rebounding department, a spread in the viscidity of seven could look far too light.