Raleigh, NC – Nine home games at PNC Arena, including the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, and an early-season tournament that includes two contests at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., highlight the NC State men’s basketball nonconference schedule. The Wolfpack could potentially play seven different teams that played in the postseason last year prior to ACC play.
“This will be a very difficult and competitive nonconference schedule for our team, particularly given we have no seniors on our roster,” head coach Mark Gottfried said. “We have continued to be aggressive and schedule teams we feel will have good seasons and finish high in their respective conferences.”
After opening the season against a William & Mary squad that won 20 games a year ago, the Wolfpack will then host IUPUI and South Alabama as part of the Legends Classic. Gottfried will then take his team to the Barclays Center to play Arizona State in the continuation of the Legends Classic, with LSU and Marquette waiting on the other side of the bracket.
Michigan comes to PNC Arena for an ACC/Big Ten match-up in early December and the Pack will play on the road at Missouri and South Florida.
A trio of teams that won 20 or more games last season – William and Mary, High Point and Northeastern – also come to Raleigh. Games against Bucknell and Winthrop, each 19-game winners last year, also figure to be quality games that could become a factor later in the season.
“We will also play UNC, Duke, Florida State and Wake Forest twice along with the rest of the difficult ACC teams once. Every night is a challenge. This nonconference schedule will help us prepare for the rigors of the ACC, which is the toughest basketball conference in the nation.”
Here is a breakdown of each nonconference game for the 2015-16 season:
William and Mary (Friday, Nov. 13 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 20-13 (12-6 Colonial); RPI: 95
Pack record vs. William and Mary: 23-5
The Wolfpack opens the 2015-16 season at home against William & Mary Friday, Nov 13. The Tribe is tasked with replacing its all-time leading scorer Marcus Thornton, who was drafted by the Boston Celtics. However, W&M will be dangerous, as it returns four starters from last year’s 20-win team that made the NIT. Three double-digit scorers return in Omar Prewitt (13.5 ppg), Terry Tarpley (11.8 ppg) and Daniel Dixon (11.1 ppg).
South Alabama (Legends Classic) (Sunday, Nov. 15 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 12-21 (9-11 Sun Belt); RPI: 276
Pack record vs. South Alabama: First Meeting
The Pack’s third home game to open the season will be Wednesday, Nov. 18 vs. South Alabama, where Mark Gottfried’s father, Joe, served as athletic director for 25 years. USA returns its top two scorers in Ken Williams (15.7 ppg) and Taishun Johnson (12.5 ppg) as well as top rebounder Abdul Lewis (6.9 rpg). The Jaguars also had two transfers and a 7-1 European center sitting out last year who will now be eligible to play.
IUPUI (Legends Classic) (Wednesday, Nov. 18 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 10-21 (6-10 Summit); RPI: 260
Pack record vs. IUPUI: First Meeting
The match-up with the Jaguars, who are coached by former Arizona star Jason Gardner, will be State’s first of four games that comprise the Legends Classic. IUPUI returns three starters from last season, including leading scorer Marcellus Barksdale (9.5 ppg).
Arizona State (Legends Classic) (Monday, Nov. 23 – Brooklyn, N.Y)
2014-15: 18-16 (9-9 Pac-12); RPI: 102
Pack record vs. Arizona State: 4-0
NC State will travel to the home of the Brooklyn Nets, the Barclays Center, for a pair of games to close out the Legends Classic. The first game will be against Arizona State, which is coached by Bobby Hurley and has former Wolfpack player and Gottfried staffer Levi Watkins on staff. Arizona State, which returns two double-digit scorers in Savon Goodman (11.2 ppg) and Gerry Blakes (11.1 ppg) won 18 games last season and won a game in the NIT.
LSU or Marquette (Legends Classic) (Tuesday, Nov. 24 – Brooklyn, N.Y.)
LSU in 2014-15: (22-11, RPI 54); Marquette in 2014-15: (13-19, RPI 142)
Pack record vs. LSU: 1-0 Pack record vs. Marquette: 3-2
Depending on the results in Brooklyn, the Pack will take on either LSU or Marquette. A game against LSU would be a rematch of last season’s epic NCAA Tournament match-up, when the Pack won on a last-second jump hook by BeeJay Anya. LSU returns guards Keith Hornsby and Tim Quarterman and added the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class. Marquette signed a highly-regarded class after a transition season last year. Double-digit scorers Duane Wilson (11.9 ppg) and Luke Fischer (11.0 ppg) return.
Winthrop (Friday, Nov. 27 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 19-13 (12-6 Big South); RPI: 211
Pack record vs. Winthrop: 8-0
Winthrop returns three starters from last year’s team that led the Big South in defensive efficiency and nearly made the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles’ top returner is 5-7 point guard Keon Johnson (11.5 ppg). Winthrop, which also set school records last season offensively, has won 39 games over the past two seasons.
Michigan (Tuesday, Dec. 1 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 16-16 (8-10 Big Ten); RPI: 81
Pack record vs. Michigan: 3-3
Michigan aims to rebound after a 16-16 season that saw its two starting guards, Caris Levert and Derrick Walton, Jr., go down with injuries. Those two players return along with leading scorer Zak Irvin (14.3 ppg). In all, Michigan returns nine players who started 10 games or more last season.
Bucknell (Saturday, Dec. 5 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 19-15 (13-5 Patriot); RPI: 139
Pack record vs. Bucknell: First Meeting
All five starters return from Bucknell’s 19-win team that played in the NIT and won the Patriot League regular season title. The Bison is a team capable of making 3-pointers in bunches, having made 38.5 percent as a team last season. Chris Hass (16.0 ppg) is a prolific senior scorer who had monster games against Villanova (32 points) and Wake Forest (26 points).
South Florida (Sunday, Dec. 13 – Tampa, Fla.)
2014-15: 9-23 (3-15 American); RPI: 273
Pack record vs. USF: 3-0
NC State returns a game at USF after defeating the Bulls 68-65 at PNC Arena last November. South Florida, which will play a foreign tour in Spain in August, is projected to be much improved under second-year head coach Orlando Antigua. Double-digit scorers Chris Perry (10.8 ppg) and Nehemias Morillo (10.1ppg) are USF’s leading returners.
High Point (Wednesday, Dec. 16 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 23-10 (13-5 Big South); RPI: 87
Pack record vs. High Point: 6-0
High Point won 23 games last season and returns three starters from a team that placed second in the Big South. HPU is led by 6-8 forward John Brown (19.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg).
Missouri (Saturday, Dec. 19 – Columbia, Mo.)
2014-15: 9-23 (3-15 SEC); RPI: 218
Pack record vs. Missouri: 2-2
The Wolfpack will travel to Missouri to complete a home-and-home that began two years ago. The Tigers added six new players to its roster and are building under second-year coach Kim Anderson.
UNC Greensboro (Tuesday, Dec. 22 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 11-22 (6-12 Southern); RPI: 310
Pack record vs. UNCG: 9-0
NC State’s final game before a weeklong holiday break is at home vs. UNCG. The Spartans return four players who scored in double figures a year ago. The Wolfpack traveled to Greensboro two years ago and won and is 9-0 all-time against UNCG.
Northeastern (Tuesday, Dec. 29 – PNC Arena)
2014-15: 23-12 (12-6 Colonial); RPI: 85
Pack record vs. Northeastern: 2-0
The Pack’s final nonconference tilt will be at home against the defending Colonial Athletic Association champ Northeastern. NU returns three starting guards combining to average 33.4 points per game. Northeastern was one of the most offensively efficient teams last season, shooting nearly 49 percent and 39 percent from 3-point range.