NC State won all three meetings with Boston College last season, but the Eagles still hold the advantage in the all-time series between the two schools, 8-6.
Last season's meeting between the two programs in Chestnut Hill was a hard-fought contest with NC State prevailing 56-51 for its second win at Conte Forum. Scott Wood had a game-high 16 points, including going 5-for-5 from the charity stripe.
The game was decided on a pair of free throws by Lorenzo Brown in the closing seconds. NC State also won the meeting with BC in Raleigh, 76-62, and the matchup between the Wolfpack and Eagles in the ACC Tournament, 78-57.
Preseason ACC Favorites
For the first time since the David Thompson era, NC State was picked to win the ACC in a preseason poll of media at the league's annual Operation Basketball in Charlotte.
The Pack earned 26 of the 53 first-place votes cast in the poll, followed by Duke, North Carolina and defending ACC champions Florida State.
The only other times the Pack was picked to finish first in the poll was in 1973-74, when Norm Sloan's team was coming off a perfect 27-0 ACC championship season, one of only two undefeated seasons in ACC history.
Junior David Thompson and senior Tommy Burleson helped the Wolfpack follow through on that prediction, not only winning its second consecutive ACC title but also ending UCLA's college basketball dynasty, beating the seven-time champion Bruins in the NCAA semifinals at the Greensboro (N.C.) Coliseum. The Pack won the school's first team NCAA title by beating Al McGuire's Marquette squad in the championship game to finish the season 30-1.
The Pack was also picked to finish first going into 1974-75, Thompson's senior season. That year, as Thompson earned his third consecutive ACC Player of the Year Award and his second straight National Player of the Year Award, the Wolfpack finished 22-6, tied for second in the ACC standings and losing to North Carolina in the ACC Tournament championship game It did not receive one of the ACC's two bids into the expanded 32-team NCAA Tournament field.
Over the years, the Pack has been better at exceeding expectations in the preseason poll. State has finished at least two spots better than its predicted finish on 11 occasions, including last season, when it was picked eighth and finished fourth.
It has also finished two or more spots below its predicted finish on nine occasions, including 2008, when the Wolfpack was picked third but finished tied for 11th, and 2011, when it was picked fourth, but finished tied for 10th.
NC State is 33-26 all-time in ACC openers and 14-18 when opening league play on the road. The last time the Wolfpack opened its conference slate on the road was the 2008-09 season at Clemson, suffering a 63-51 setback to the Tigers.
NC State is 5-5 in its last 10 ACC openers, including 1-5 when starting conference play on the road.
This is the first time that the NC State has opened conference play at Boston College.
New Year, New Format
When ACC play opens league-wide on Saturday, conference's 12 teams will play in the inaugural 18-game format.
The format was adopted in advance of Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse joining the ACC.
Each year, teams will play every league opponent at least once with the two partners playing home and away annually. In addition to the four annual games against partners, the remaining 14 conference games will feature home and away games with two rotating opponents and five home-only games and five road-only games.
The two-primary-partner format preserves competitive balance and builds upon traditional rivalries while providing the opportunity to create new ones.
Freshman T.J. Warren and senior Richard Howell are ranked one and two in the ACC statistics in field goal percentage.
Warren, who was 6-of-8 in the Pack's win over UNCG, is connecting on .694 of his shots from the floor, which is third nationally. Howell's season percentage is .667, which is the ninth best shooting percentage in the nation. Howell had an impressive 8-for-8 performance against the Broncos ninth nationally.
The last Wolfpack freshman to lead the ACC in field goal percentage was J.J. Hickson, who shot .591 for the 2007-08 season. The duo are the only teammates that rank in the top 10 nationally in shooting percentage.
By the end of the January, the Wolfpack's four upperclassmen could all be members of the program's 1,000-point club.
Junior C.J. Leslie earned his place in the fraternity with a made free throw with 58.3 seconds remaining in the first half in NC State's win over Western Michigan, becoming the 46th player in NC State's storied basketball history to score his 1,000th point. He now is 44th on the list with 1,036 points.
Leslie was 5-for-10 from the field in the game and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line, scoring a game-high 19 points as the Wolfpack earned its sixth consecutive win and its eighth straight win at home.
Among the many former Wolfpack stars who have reached the 1,000-point plateau is current teammate Scott Wood, who scored his 1,000th point in last season's opening-round win over San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament.
Wood currently has 1,176 points (37th).
Senior forward Richard Howell is 58 points away from joining them and junior Lorenzo Brown is 80 earning a spot in the club as well.
The last time NC State had three 1,000-point scorers on the same team was in 2006-07, with Engin Atsur (1,181), Ben McCauley (1,138) and Courtney Fells (1,060).
The 1982-83 squad also had a trio of 1,000 scorers led by Thurl Bailey (1,495), Dereck Whittenburg (1,272) and Sidney Lowe (1,048).
The Streak Is On
NC State's current eight-game winning streak is the longest under coach Mark Gottfried.
The last time the Pack had that many consecutive wins was at the start of the 2004-05 season when it finished 21-14 and advanced to the Sweet 16 where it fell to Wisconsin, 65-56.
The most recent double-digit winning streak occurred during the 1988-89 campaign, when NC State put together 10 consecutive wins starting with a 109-81 victory over Alabama State (Dec. 20) and stretching to an 82-64 victory over Wake Forest (Jan. 18). North Carolina handed the Pack its first setback in a month, taking State an 84-81 win in Chapel Hill.
The longest winning streak in NC State history is 36 games which spanned the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.
Leslie At The FT Line
In his last four games, junior C.J. Leslie has made 31 of his 42 free-throw attempts in the last three games, a clip of .738, raising the career .581 free throw shooter's average on the season to .644 percent.
Leslie had a career-high 13 free throws and a career-high 18 attempts against St. Bonaventure on Dec. 22 and followed up with a 9-for-11 performance against Western Michigan.
Sharing The Wealth
The Pack has evenly shared the scoring load this season with five players averaging double figures, freshman Rodney Purvis close behind.
The Pack is led by junior C.J. Leslie with an average of 15.8 points per contest. Freshman T.J. Warren is second on the team in scoring with an average of 13.5 ppg.
Senior Richard Howell is contributing 13.3 ppg, while junior Lorenzo Brown is averaging 12.4 ppg. Senior Scott Wood is averaging 11.5 ppg, while Purvis averages 9.1 ppg.
NC State is one of two ACC schools with five players averaging in double figures. The other is Duke.
Nationally, the Pack is one of seven teams with a quintet averaging double figures. Those schools include: Detroit, Indiana, McNeese State and Oregon State.
Head Of The Freshman Class
T.J. Warren is the ACC's leading freshman scorer with an average of 13.5 points per game. He owns the top two scoring games in the conference among freshmen this year with 22 against Penn State (tied with BC's Oliver Hanlon, who also had 22 versus Penn State) and 21 versus Massachusetts and Norfolk State.
Warren has led the Pack in scoring four times, with three of those performances coming as a reserve. The Freshman 20 In just 13 games this season, freshman forward T.J. Warren has already hit the 20-point mark on three occasions, becoming the Wolfpack's first freshman since J.J. Hickson in 2007-08 to score 20 or more points multiple times in a season.
Hickson scored at least 20 points on seven occasions in his only season with the Pack, including 33 in his first game.
C.J. Leslie had a season-high 21 in his first game with the Wolfpack in 2010-11 and Scott Wood surpassed 20 once with his 31-point performance against Florida State in his inaugural season. Brandon Costner had nine 20-point performances as a redshirt freshman in 2006-07.
The Higher, The Better
In the Wolfpack's 11 wins, it is averaging 84.6 points per game and shooting .550 (337-613) from the field. Three times NC State has topped the 90-point barrier, scoring a season-high 97 points in the opener versus Miami of Ohio, posting 94 against UMass in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and scoring 92 in its win over St. Bonaventure.
In its Miami victory, the Pack shot a season-best .614 (35-of-57) from the floor.
In its two losses, NC State is averaging 64.0 points per game and shooting .458 (54-of-118) from the field. In 11 of its 12 contests this season, the Wolfpack has shot .500 or better from the floor.
NC State's .535 field goal percentage leads the nation.
The Pack has outscored its opposition, 546-401, in the paint this season. That's 42.2 points per game for NC State coming off of shots around the rim, while its opponents are scoring 30.8 points a contest in the lane, giving the Pack a 11.4-point advantage.
That equates to .515 of the Wolfpack's scoring production coming from in the post, compared to .444 of the scoring output for its opponents' post players.
Lending A Helping Hand
Three times this season, junior Lorenzo Brown has recorded double digits in assists, versus Michigan, Massachusetts and St. Bonaventure. Against the Bonnies on Dec. 23, Brown had a season-high 11 assists.
All of last season, Brown had two performances with 10 or more assists, including a career-best 13 in the Pack's loss to Syracuse. Against the Orange, he also registered his first career double-double, adding 10 points.
Against UMass this year, Brown posted his second career double-double by scoring 11 points to go with his assist tally. Brown, who leads the ACC in assists per game at 6.3, is the conference's active leader for doubledigit assist games with three. Brown's assists per game are the most by a Wolfpack player since Chris Corchiani averaged 9.6 per game during the 1990-91 season.
On The Break
One of the points of emphasis in NC State's offensive style is to score points in transition.
This season, the Pack has outscored its opponents, 234-89, on fastbreak points.
Through 13 games, NC State is averaging 18.0points per game on the fastbreak, compared to 6.8 points per contest for its competition.
In The Rankings
NC State has been ranked in the Associated Press poll since the preseason, opening the year at No. 6.
The Pack was ranked 23rd in the Dec. 24 AP poll, marking the ninth straight week it has been ranked. New polls are released every Monday afternoon.
It is the longest stretch that NC State has been ranked by AP since spending 15 weeks in the poll during the 2005-06 season.