Temple +4 1/2 (-115) and NC State -4 1/2 (-105)

This game may come down to the health of 6 foot 8 inch senior forward Richard Howell. He was last seen riding a stationary bike as opposed to being on the court. Anytime a team runs the risk of losing a player that averages a double double, they are going to take a significant step back. Although N.C State does have 4 other players who average at least 12 points per game, his health will likely go a long way in determining the success of the team. If Howell is unable to play, even more responsibility will fall into the hands of junior star C.J Leslie. He is the leading scorer at nearly 15 per game and the person who will likely have the ball in crucial situations.

It is likely that Temple will focus most of its defensive attention to shutting him down. Freshman T.J Warren is an impressive player who does not take a lot of three pointers but connects at a clip over 50%. The Wolfpack play their best when the game is up-tempo and struggle to defend in the half court. Temple had a strong season and is making their sixth consecutive tournament appearance. They have big wins vs. Syracuse and VCU on their resume. The key to their success is certain to be six foot four senior guard Khalif Wyatt. When he is on his game he is one of the most prolific scorers in the country, as his 20 points per game average will attest. He is not only a scorer; he is also usually looking to get his teammates involved, especially early in the game. Hometown senior Scootie Randall will be looking to make his last NCAA tournament a successful one. He averages 12 points and seven rebounds while hardly ever coming out of the game. He is not a high percentage 3-point shooter but is more than willing to let them fly. Sophomore Anthony Lee is a big body who averages 10 points and 7 rebounds a night. He is also a health concern; he was rushed to the hospital with concussion like symptoms after the teams Atlantic Ten tournament loss.

While a fast start is generally important for all teams, it is extra critical for Temple due to the depth and skill of N.C State. Temple plays primarily man-to-man defense, which will be tough and is certain to lead to several mismatches that are not in their favor. N.C State is the 5th highest shooting team and 13th best shooting team in the country. It will be tough for Temple to contain them for 40 minutes but they are certainly capable. Hopefully both teams health concerns are alleviated and both players are able to actively participate in the game. The tournament has always been friendly to team who can put the ball in the basket frequently and N.C State is certainly capable of that.

Ray's Free Pick: Take N.C State -4 ½

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