Published November 20, 2014
The Syracuse Orange have taken over the top spot in the latest AP poll, and they will attempt to remain unbeaten this evening when they take on the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh.
At 10-0, Syracuse has been tremendously impressive on the court despite some well-publicized off the court distractions. The program owns the top overall ranking for the first time since March 1, 2010, and while the schedule has been rather soft to date, the Orange did manage to knock off a talented Florida squad by four points a couple of weeks ago. Syracuse has been idle since last Saturday when it defeated George Washington by an 85-50 final.
It has been 32 years since the Wolfpack last hosted a non-conference opponent ranked No. 1, and the program is 5-24 all-time against the nation's top team. This season, the Wolfpack are a solid 6-3 overall, and they did manage to halt a recent two-game slide with a 65-60 victory over North Carolina Central last Sunday. Of the six games that the club has played at home thus far, five have resulted in wins.
Syracuse owns a 3-1 series lead over NC State after last season's 65-59 decision over the Wolfpack.
The top offensive performer for Syracuse is Kris Joseph, as he is scoring 13.7 ppg to go along with 6.1 rpg. Dion Waiters provides 11.9 ppg in a reserve role, and Brandon Triche checks in with 11.1 ppg. The Orange are generating an impressive 80.1 ppg and limiting opponents to an equally stellar 57.3 ppg on 36.8 percent field goal efficiency. Also worthy of note is that Syracuse has forced 203 turnovers while committing just 119 of its own. Taking a look at the 35-point romp over George Washington last time out, Waiters posted a career-high 19 points on the strength of an 8-of-11 shooting effort from the floor, and he also managed to contribute six steals, five rebounds and four assists. The Orange connected on 50 percent of their field goal attempts in that affair and limited the overmatched Colonials to 30.6 percent shooting. Syracuse also forced 18 turnovers and earned a 17-9 edge in points from the foul line.
While Syracuse competes in the loaded Big East, NC State is a member of the highly competitive ACC and figures to rely heavily on its offensive balance once league play begins. There are five players on the Wolfpack roster averaging double figures in scoring, and C.J. Leslie leads the attack with 12.8 ppg. Scott Wood (12.5 ppg), Lorenzo Brown (12.3 ppg), C.J. Williams (12.0 ppg) and Richard Howell (11.9 ppg) round out the group for NC State, which is generating 76.1 ppg while permitting 71.4 ppg to opponents. The Wolfpack have been strong on the boards, ripping down 6.1 rpg more than the opposition. Williams was most impressive in the five-point win over NC Central last time out, as he posted a career-high 21 points in what was his 100th career game for the Wolfpack. NC State won the game despite 37 percent shooting from the floor and 16 turnovers, and Wood's 19-point effort obviously helped the cause.