NCAA Tournament

North Carolina State-Kansas preview

WHEN/WHERE:

9:17 Friday night at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

• 

TV/RADIO:

TBS; KCSP (610 AM)

ABOUT N.C. STATE (24-12):

The Wolfpack has reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005 with victories over San Diego State and Georgetown. N.C. State is the Midwest Region’s 11th seed, and the program is 9-9 all-time in games in which it owns the worse seed. The Wolfpack has held its last six opponents to fewer than 70 points. Kansas averages 74.3. There is some familiarity with KU on the N.C. State staff: First-year assistant Bob Lutz was an Iowa State assistant last year.

ABOUT KANSAS (29-6):

The second-seeded Jayhawks defeated Detroit and Purdue to reach the regional semifinal for the fifth time in six years. KU and N.C. State played once before in the NCAA Tournament, with the Jayhawks winning the 1986 Midwest Region final in Kemper Arena to advance to the Final Four. Assistant coach Danny Manning had 22 points in that game. KU is 10-1 all-time against the Wolfpack.

Frontcourt

A scorer and a defender — it describes both teams. For North Carolina State, leading scorer C.J. Leslie has been on a roll, averaging 18.2 points and 9.7 rebounds in the Wolfpack’s last 10 games. Richard Howell has been the team’s best rebounder all season and ranks fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference at 9.1. Kansas counters with Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey, both coming off rough outings against Purdue. But at their best, there’s not a better tandem. Robinson’s next double-double will be a school-record 26th, and the 7-foot Withey continues to be a shot-blocking demon at 3.3 per game.

Edge >> Kansas Backcourt

A key could be at the wing. State’s best three-point shooter, Scott Wood (41.7 percent) is likely to be matched against Kansas’ top perimeter defender, Travis Releford. The Wolfpack’s Lorenzo Brown is a classic playmaker, averaging 6.4 assists per game. C.J. Williams came up big against Georgetown with 14 points. Elijah Johnson has been Kansas’ best player in two NCAA games and found his three-point touch by hitting six of 13 in Omaha. The Jayhawks will need more offense from Tyshawn Taylor, who hasn’t knocked down a three since banking one in against Baylor in a Big 12 tournament loss.

Edge >> Kansas
Bench

Both teams go about seven deep. For N.C. State, post man DeShawn Painter chipped in six rebounds against Georgetown and has scored as many as 18 in an ACC game. Guard Alex Johnson scored 13 at Duke. Conner Teahan is coming off his second 30-minute game of the season, against Purdue. That happened because KU found itself in a matchup problem that took Withey off the floor. Forward Kevin Young was good in Omaha with a nine-point game against Detroit and seven rebounds against Purdue.,

Edge >> N.C. State Coaching/intangibles

Here’s a Mark Gottfried-Kansas connection: He’s the nephew of former KU football coach Mike Gottfried. Mark Gottfried spent three seasons at Murray State and 11 seasons at Alabama before taking a two-year respite from the profession. His performance in reshaping the Wolfpack is mindful of Frank Haith’s at Missouri. The coaches rank 2-3 behind Murray’s Steve Prohm for the most victories in a first year with the team this season. Give Bill Self a week to prepare and he usually finds an answer. He’s 4-1 in Sweet 16 games at KU.

Edge >> Kansas Bottom line

In the ACC tournament and last weekend in Columbus, Ohio, N.C. State played its best ball of the season. Kansas has been average in three straight games. If the trends continue, the Jayhawks will suffer another defeat to a double-digit seed. But Kansas has a new lease on life after last week’s near-elimination experience with Purdue, and it will be a loose team that puts away the Wolfpack.

P

No.

N.C. State

Ht.

Yr.

PPG

F

15

Scott Wood

6-6

Jr.

12.4

F

1

Richard Howell

6-8

Jr.

11.0

F

5

C.J. Leslie

6-8

So.

14.6

G

21

C.J. Williams

6-5

Sr.

10,6

G

2

Lorenzo Brown

6-5

So.

12.8

P

No.

Kansas

Ht.

Yr.

PPG

F

0

Thomas Robinson

6-10

Jr.

17.7

C

5

Jeff Withey

7-0

Jr.

9.1

G

15

Elijah Johnson

6-4

Jr.

10.0

G

24

Travis Releford

6-6

Jr.

8.4

G

10

Tyshawn Taylor

6-3

Sr.

16.9

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