Auburn Tigers vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Auburn Tigers (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. North Carolina State Wolfpack (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS), 8:15 p.m. EST, Sunday, November 22, 2009, Ocean Center, Daytona Beach, Fla.
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Auburn +1/North Carolina State -1
Over/Under: Not currently offered

In the final game of the Glenn Wilkes Classic, North Carolina State takes on Auburn. NC State is 3-0 with wins over Georgia State, Akron and Austin Peay, while Auburn is 2-2 with wins over Niagara and IUPUI and losses to Missouri State and Central Florida.

This is the third game in three days for both teams, so depth and stamina will play a factor in this game.

After double-digit wins in its first two games, NC State won 66-59 over Austin Peay on Saturday. Tracy Smith led the Wolfpack with 16 points and seven rebounds. Dennis Horner added 15 points and five rebounds. The Wolfpack shot 45 percent from the field and were 6-for-18 from 3-point range.

Smith has been the team’s most effective player so far. The 6-foot-8 power forward has teamed up with the 6-foot-9 Horner to give the Wolfpack a formidable duo down low. Starting point guard Farnold Degand is academically ineligible for the first semester, so Javier Gonzalez and Julius Mays have really had to pick up the load in the backcourt. There isn’t much depth on this team right now, as Sidney Lowe has only really used six players for the most part, with Scott Wood and C.J. Williams being the other two.

Auburn lost some serious production with the loss of Korvotny Barber and
Rasheem Barrett, and the Tigers have had a slow start while Jeff Lebo is
trying to figure out who his key players will be this season. Thus far,
DeWayne Reed, Lucas Hargrove and Frankie Sullivan have carried the scoring
load. Reed and Sullivan are both 6-foot-1 guards, while Hargrove is a 6-foot-6
small forward. The Tigers start four guards with 6-foot-10 Brendon
starting at center. This is a very guard oriented team and
the Tigers do not have much quality depth down low.

Auburn is coming off an 80-65 win over IUPUI on Saturday. Reed scored a game-high 24 points and Sullivan had 20. Freshman 6-foot-5 forward Ernest Ross, who has started every game, scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting. The Tigers shot 10-for-22 from 3-point range and 55 percent overall. Auburn hasn’t outrebounded any of its four opponents this season.

NC State has been very consistent in its offensive play this season, scoring between 66 and 69 points in each of its three games. The Wolfpack have not allowed 60 points in any of those three games, so they are playing well defensively despite the fact that they haven’t played too difficult of competition yet. But NC State’s last two opponents, Akron and Austin Peay, are solid mid-majors that have played pretty well this season.

Auburn opened the season with a quality home win over Niagara, one of the best mid-major teams out there. Auburn was trailing by seven with a minute and a half left before going on an 11-0 run in the final 89 seconds to earn the four-point victory. The Tigers followed that up with a disappointing loss at Missouri State and then a loss on Friday to Central Florida. The Tigers bounced back with a 15-point win over IUPUI, but a win over NC State would go a long way for them as they prepare for the SEC.

Auburn’s lack of size could come into play more against NC State than any of the previous four games. The best thing the Wolfpack have so far is their inside play. Horner and Smith have been carrying the Wolfpack on both ends of the floor. Smith is mobile enough to be able to guard one of Auburn’s small forwards. Auburn has the advantage in the backcourt, but Gonzalez, Mays and Wood aren’t chopped liver. The three of them should be able to do a decent job against Reed, Hargrove, Sullivan and Ross.

Ryno’s Pick: NC State has been playing better than Auburn in the early season. The Tigers showed how poorly they are capable of playing in their loss to Missouri State, and playing their third game in three days could be tiring for them and bring out the worst in them. NC State lacks depth but has played consistently in its three games, so the Wolfpack will probably play better than the Tigers. On top of all that, NC State has an advantage down low where Smith and Horner should own the boards and be able to score a lot of points around the rim. Take North Carolina State at -1.