Steven's preview at Section Six.
Conventional wisdom says we don't have a chance in hell tonight. I'm of a different opinion, for a couple of reasons:
- Wake Forest is a different team on the road than they are at home. Conversely, State is a better team at home than on the road. Wake's youth seems to struggle when away from their home fans, and the home crowd at the RBC Center tonight -- despite the debacle in Blacksburg on Sunday -- should be full and into it early.
- Wake Forest, I think again due to their youth, does not respond well to close games late. Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami all were within two points or leading at halftime before scoring a win. Wake will want to put State away early. State, on the other hand, has shown an uncanny ability to post leads against quality opponents -- sometimes HUGE leads -- before struggling down the stretch. If the Pack gets up big on Wake Forest, Jeff Teague may start pressing to do too much and get out of their gameplan. The X factor is whether State, if it has a lead, can keep it.
I'm more optimistic than most heading into this game. I was there in 2004 when we beat a Wake Forest team featuring Chris Paul, Eric Williams and Justin Gray ranked 16th in the country. It can be done.
The bigger question is how will the team respond to the Virginia Tech loss. That game felt eerily similar to the game against Maryland years ago when Damon Thornton, whistled for a technical, led to an epic collapse in College Park that carried over to the remainder of the season. Can State shake the funk from that OT loss? Tonight will tell us a lot.