No. 22 Wisconsin hosts anxious N.C. State
It's time to find out what North Carolina State can do against a power-conference team and while playing on the road.
The Wolfpack ought to gain a dose of that insight Tuesday night at No. 22 Wisconsin, which already has been in a few sturdy tests.
The teams meet at Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., as part of the ACC / Big Ten Challenge.
Wisconsin (5-1) has been in notable tussles across the opening weeks of the season and has proven to be a formidable team. The Badgers are coming off a 53-46 loss to then-No. 4 Virginia in last week's championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Wisconsin won a road game at Xavier a week into the season. The Badgers also topped Stanford and Oklahoma in the Battle 4 Atlantis by 16- and 20-point margins, respectively.
"We've shown flashes of good defense, but the consistency in developing the identity on that end of the court needs to grow," Wisconsin coach Greg Gard said.
For N.C. State, this game should be a measuring stick of sorts.
"Every game is exciting and we love to play basketball, but those games are definitely something you come to college for," N.C. State guard Torin Dorn said of the matchup with Wisconsin. "We want to play against teams of that caliber, so we're definitely excited as a team for those challenges."
N.C. State dealt with late-game pressure for the first time in Saturday's 78-74 victory against Mercer.
"When you look at the first five games we played, they were a little lopsided," said N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts, who's going for his 100th collegiate coaching victory Tuesday night. "We did have the opportunity to try and execute at the end of the game. I thought we did some good things and I thought we had some things we need to work on."
N.C. State is 6-0 for the first time in four years. The Wolfpack hasn't started a season 7-0 since the 2004-05 campaign.
The Wolfpack mostly has overwhelmed opponents. So this is a different challenge and N.C. State's ability to play at a crisp pace also might be put to the test by Wisconsin.
"I know we're ready to play (games like this)," said N.C. State redshirt junior guard CJ Bryce.
It will be a contrast of styles.
Wisconsin's season-high turnover total is 13. N.C. State has benefitted from at least 15 turnovers from opponents in every game.
"If you can do those two things well - defend and take care of the basketball - you give yourself a fighting chance at least," Gard said.
The Badgers are shooting 42.1 percent on 3-point attempts. No N.C. State foe has shot better than 30 percent from long range.
While N.C. State has played in six home games, this will mark only the third home outing for the Badgers.
This is part of a potentially brutal stretch on Wisconsin's schedule. The Badgers have a pair of Big Ten Conference games against Iowa and Rutgers after this, followed by in-state rival Marquette.
Bryce, a transfer from UNC Wilmington, reached the 1,000-point career mark in the most-recent game.
Wisconsin redshirt senior Ethan Happ has moved to fourth in school history with 120 career blocked shots.
Wisconsin has won both previous meetings, claiming a decision in the 2005 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in Syracuse, N.Y., and winning at home as part of the 2010 ACC / Big Ten Challenge.
Updated November 27, 2018