By Tyler Leli @jetleli on March 17, 2014
On Sunday night, the NC State Wolfpack received a somewhat surprising call to the NCAA Tournament as they will have to take on Xavier for the right to advance to the Round of 64. This extra game means that NC State will be more fatigued than their opponents heading into the weekend, but that isn't necessarily a death spell. In fact, if these five players step up the Wolfpack will go for a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Lennard Freeman tends to be overshadowed on this NC State team, but that doesn't mean the freshman isn't a big part of the team. Over the last five games, Freeman has averaged 25 minutes, 7.2 rebounds and 5.8 rebounds per game, and he has in turn become an interior force at the power forward position. NC State will need to win the boards battle if they want to go far in the NCAA Tournament, and they will need Freeman grinding away to do this.
Joining Freeman on the interior is center Jordan Vandenberg, who is 7-foot-1, 245-pounds and has finally become a force during his fifth year at NC State. During the ACC Tournament the big Australian really stepped up, averaging 29.33 minutes, 6.7 points, 1.7 assists and four rebounds per game. Few college teams have a true big man, and a productive Vandenberg will ensure that NC State wins the interior battle and has multiple ways to score.
Anthony Barber has struggled at times this season, but the freshman point guard has more offensive potential than any other NC State guard. Barber isn't a particularly impressive shooter, but he has great speed, no fear of driving the lane and creates space for teammates to find shooting lanes. Barber hasn't been particularly impressive lately, but if he steps up his play the Wolfpack will have a much more dynamic offense.
Ralston Turner has been the second most productive scorer for NC State this year, averaging 10.2 points and 36.7 three-point field goal percentage. Turner has the ability to flip a game on its head if he gets hot shooting from distance, as he did in the ACC Tournament against Miami by going 5-for-8 on three-pointers and finishing with 22 points overall. The flip side of this hot streak is that Turner can cost NC State games if he goes cold.
The hopes of NC State at the NCAA Tournament ultimately rest on the shoulders of TJ Warren, who has been the star of the team all year and won the ACC Player of the Year Award because of it. Warren has scored more than 30 points nine times, and the Wolfpack have gone 8-1 during these games. This is no coincidence, and if the sophomore can find lanes to the rim and open looks he will rack up mass amounts of points leading to NC State wins.
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