Temple fans this season have all come to the same realization: Khalif Wyatt needs to carry this team. The A-10 player of the year has averaged just under 20 ppg (19.8). Wyatt has scored over 30 points five times this season, and a sixth time is a high possibility against the Wolfpack. In NC State’s 10 losses, they have allowed at least one player on the opposing team to score over 20 points 7 times. Don’t be surprised if Wyatt has a monster game.
Another player who could have a big game for Temple is Jake O’Brian. The 6’9″ forward is Temple’s greatest 3-point shooter, stroking the 3-ball at 43%. NC State is known for it’s weak defending on the perimeter, and with all the attention going in to the game on Wyatt, O’Brian will be spotting up all game long.
North Carolina State is lead by their front court of C.J. Leslie and Richard Howell. The two big men are both in the top two on their team for scoring and rebounding. Combined, these forwards average 27.6 ppg and 18.1 rpg. Both players have proven that they can go off at anytime and exploit a weaker opponent.
Undersized Temple will be forced to match up 6’6″ Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson with one of these strong post players. Fortunately for Temple, both Leslie and Howell shoot under 65% from the free throw line. NC State, though, has three more players that all average over 12 points per game. NC State makes up their poor three point shooting with tenacity on the offensive boards, averaging about 11 offensive rebounds per game.
What does Temple need to do to win? It’s simple: make open 3s. North Carolina State as a team shoots 68% from the line as opposed to Temple’s 72.5% free throw percentage. In what should be a tight grueling game, look for Temple to end up ahead if the scoreboard is close at the end. How does Temple lose this game? Allow Leslie and/or Howell to dominate the offensive rebounds. If Temple sophomore Anthony Lee has a poor defensive game, Temple can be in some serious trouble.
Final Prediction: Temple 83, NC State 79
In a high scoring game, Khalif Wyatt takes over the second half and gives Fran “One and” Dunphy his second NCAA tournament win as a Temple head coach.