With Brown at the helm, the Wolf Pack has one of the best offenses in the country. They score 116.6 points per 100 possessions, the No. 11 most-efficient unit in the country. It's mainly thanks to Brown's ability to get into the lane and find bigs in Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie, as well as gunner Scott Wood. But Brown is doubtful for the Miami game, leaving the team rudderless. The hypothetical backup is freshman Tyler Lewis, who averages fewer than ten minutes a game. With Brown out against Virginia, the Wolf Pack lost from ahead, blowing a seven point lead to the Cavaliers before losing 58-55.
And they're not exactly going up against weak opposition. Thanks to the interior presence of Kenny Kadji and Reggie Johnson, the Canes only allow 84.2 points per 100 possessions, the fifth-best figure in the nation. They're pretty good on offense, but Jim Larranaga's squad has ridden their elite defense to eight-straight wins, including their first seven games in-conference. They're the last undefeated ACC team, and although these are the only two teams in the nation to knock off Duke, Miami's win was much more convincing than NC State's, blowing out the Blue Devils by 27 points.
Despite Brown's absence, Miami blog State of the U was more than a little bit worried about the upcoming game in their preview:
So yeah, this is basically the perfect storm for NC State to upset Miami. They’re at home, where they are 12-0 on the season. They’re pissed off after losing a very winnable game at Virginia. Their backs are almost against the wall. It has all the makings of an upset.
NC State blog Backing the Pack sees the Pack's biggest problem without Brown on the defensive end, where the 5'11 Lewis will be tasked with guarding Shane Larkin, a player they say is one of the best points in the conference.
Tyler Lewis will be on the floor a lot more, and there is no Jontel Evans to hide him behind, so to speak, this time. If his task is Shane Larkin, then that is a huge mismatch in the Hurricanes' favor. I mean, Lewis has had problems staying in front of guards on the mid-majors we've played this season. We'll just have to grit our teeth through those possessions.
Here's the info on the showdown of ranked teams:
No. 14 Miami Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0) vs. No. 19 North Carolina State Wolfpack (16-5, 5-3)
Where: BankUnited Center, Raleigh, North Carolina
When: 4 p.m. ET