The Temple Owls kick off their 2013 NCAA tournament Friday afternoon, looking to end a recent string of poor tournament showings. The Owls have been knocked out in the first round 4 of the past 5 years, with their lone victory a 2-point win over an inferior Penn State team. To end that stretch of poor play, the Owls will have to go through a talented but inconsistent North Carolina State squad.
The Wolfpack are an incredibly efficient offensive team, rated 11th in the nation on that side of the ball, while shooting 49.4% (5th best nationally). However, the downfall for them this season, and the reason they did not reach their lofty expectations, has been a lack of commitment on the defensive end. Temple fits a similar profile, with the Owls also performing much better scoring the rock than stopping the opposition. However, unlike the Owls, NC State does not rely on the three ball, among the lowest in the nation at only 5.3 made threes per game. The Wolfpack do the bulk of their damage on the inside behind 6’9″ Junior C.J. Leslie and 6’8″ Senior Richard Howell (12.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg). Temple’s Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson and Anthony Lee will have their hands full defending the paint against that duo.
Despite its shortcomings defensively, one thing NC State does well is limit its opponents to just 29.9% from behind the arc, good for 18th in the nation. The main reason behind this is the incredible size on the roster, with all five starters ranging in height from 6’5″ to 6’9″. With that much length on the perimeter, the Wolfpack can cover a lot of ground and challenge nearly every shot. This aspect of their opponent could spell trouble for an Owls’ team that relies so heavily on outside shooting. Khalif Wyatt, especially, may struggle as he generally uses his size and strength to take advantage of smaller guards defending him, which will not be the case here.
Ultimately, the Wolfpack appear to be a terrible match-up for the Owls. North Carolina State has the size and length to negate the Temple perimeter attack, and the Owls are not built to bang with aggressive scorers in the paint. Unfortunately for Owls fans, it looks like the bad stretch of tournament showings may continue this year.