The 6-foot-8 sophomore and ACC Player of the Year T. J. Warren can flat out score. He had 25 points to go along with five rebounds and three key steals in North Carolina State‘s 74-59 First Four victory over Xavier.
Warren was the catalyst, but Ralston Turner also played a key part in NC State’s impressive showing. Turner scored 17 points and went 3-of-7 from beyond the 3-point stripe. Big man Matt Stainbrook led the way for the X with a tough 19 points and nine boards. Chris Mack‘s Musketeers and Mark Gottfried‘s Wolfpack were two of the last four teams selected to play in the NCAA tournament. As a matter of fact, NC State was actually the final at-large team to receive a bid in the field of 68.
With the way the Pack are playing right now though, you wouldn’t know it. They’ve now won five out of their last six games and are clearly becoming a very dangerous team with each passing day. Warren is the main reason why. His 24.8 PPG rank third in all of college basketball, and the lengthy forward does it by scoring in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s floaters, runners or leaking out in transition to record easy buckets, Warren can do it all.
In the Big Dance, teams with highly prolific scores are often the ones that survive and advance. Warren is one of the best players in the entire country, and with the way he is consistently playing, I would not at all be surprised to see NC State make a deep tournament run. The 12th-seeded Wolfpack will now leave Dayton and head out to Orlando for their second-round matchup with No. 5 seeded Saint Louis.
Behind the outstanding and versatile Warren, NC State will be the victors of that contest as well and march past the Billikens into the round of 32.
Matthew Sturgeon is a College Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @OfficialSturg27