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It’s official: March Madness is here.
The 64-team NCAA Tournament kicks off on March 16 and 17, and Creighton vs North Carolina State in the Round of 64 is one of the 32 games.
On March 17, we’ll get March Madness TNT action for this South Region matchup.
Who wins this game? Let’s find out.
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Rejoining the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018, North Carolina State finished the year 21-10 and 12-8 in the ACC.
They had just one win against Quad 1 teams but were 22-4 against Quad 2, 3, and 4 squads.
On defense, the Wolfpack rank 188th in the nation, allowing 70.5 points per game, 120th in defensive efficiency, and 168th in floor percentage (47.2%).
Looking at the offense, the Wolfpack perform much better, averaging 78.9 points per game (30th). The majority of their points come from the starting lineup. They rank 300th in the nation in points off the bench with just 14.53 per game.
NC State also ranks 108th in effective field goal percentage (52.2%), fourth in fastbreak points per game (15.56), and shoots 35.18% from three-point range (123rd).
Including the ACC Tournament, NC State has lost three of its last four games. Before that, they hadn’t lost back-to-back games all season. They did, however, lose three times to Clemson who didn’t even make March Madness.
The leading scorers on the Wolfpack average more than 17 points per game. These players include sophomore guard Terquavion Smith (17.5 PPG, 4.2 AGP, 3.6 RPG) and senior guard Jarkel Joiner (17.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.7 RPG).
Another guard, Jack Clark, leads the team in rebounds with 6.7 per game.
Casey Morsell leads the way from three-point range, shooting 40.7% from deep range.
Creighton has been quite successful under Greg McDermott, now punching their ticket to their third straight NCAA Tournament. The Bluejays finished the year 21-12 and went 14-6 in the Big East.
They lost in the Big East Tournament to Xavier 82-60 but still have a KenPom ranking of 13. Creighton went 3-9 against Quad 1 teams this year and 18-3 against Quads 2-4. They did have one loss against a Quad 3 team, however.
The team ranks 28th in offensive efficiency and 15th in defensive efficiency. The Bluejays are 57th in the nation in points per game, with 76.8, just 11.84 coming off the bench, and 8.97 coming on fastbreaks (194th).
The No. 6 seed averages nearly 25 three-point attempts per game (47th) and shoots 35.76% from that range (95th).
Creighton allows 67.9 points per game (114th) on defense and brings in 28.87 defensive rebounds per game (5th).
Creighton doesn’t see a lot of production from their bench, so it’s no surprise that everyone in their starting five averages at least 11.9 points per game.
Their leading scorer is big man Ryan Kalkbrenner. The seven-foot-one center averages 15.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.
However, he’s not the leading rebounder on the team—that’s senior guard Baylor Scheierman who brings in 8.4 boards in addition to 12.8 points per game.
Kalkbrenner averages 2.2 blocks per game, and guard Trey Alexander shoots 44% from three-point range, averaging 13.6 points.
The Wolfpack is one of the better offenses in the country, but their defense will pose a problem for them, especially against this Creighton team that can score from all levels of the court.
With five players averaging 11.9 points or more, shooting plenty of threes, and Kalkbrenner down low, Creighton will be a force in the tournament.
No one on NC State that plays consistent minutes will be able to defend the seven-foot-one big man.
The Wolfpack have two great players, including Smith, who may have been a top pick in the 2022 NBA Draft before returning to school.
If he does score more than 20 points, though, watch out—NC State is 9-1 when this is the case.
In the end, Creighton are a 5.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook. While this may be a bit too much considering how NC State shakes out nationwide in points per game, Creighton attacks from multiple angles and should wear down the Wolfpack.
Best Bet: Creighton -5.5 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook
Location: Ball Arena, Denver, Colorado
Game Time & Date: March 17, 2023, at 3:50 PM ET
TV Network: TNT
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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