03/20/2012 09:05 pm ET

Sweet 16: Kansas, N.C. State Face In NCAA Tournament [Predict]

By Greg Mengelt, CollegeHoops.Net

(2) Kansas vs. (11) North Carolina State: Midwest Region
Kansas 29-6, 16-2 Big 12 (Regular-season Conference Champions; At large)
North Carolina State 24-12, 9-7 ACC (At large)
Time: 10:17 p.m. Friday
Location: Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis
Winner will face: (1) North Carolina or (13) Ohio, Sunday
Tournament Results
Kansas def. Detroit, 65-50; def. Purdue, 63-60
N.C. State def. San Diego State, 79-65; def. Georgetown, 66-63
Kansas No. 6 AP; No. 6 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
N.C. State No. 36 ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll
RPI Ratings
Kansas 8
N.C. State 35
Line: Kansas -8 (O/U 141½)

Players to Watch
Kansas: F Thomas Robinson, 6-10 Jr. (17.9 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 25 double-doubles); G Tyshawn Taylor, 6-3 Sr. (17.1 ppg, 4.7 apg, 49.5% FG); G Elijah Johnson, 6-4 Jr. (9.8 ppg, 3.7 apg, 1.5 spg). Johnson has been the key to the Jayhawks’ berth in the Sweet 16, particularly with Sunday’s 18-point performance over Purdue. In two NCAA games, Johnson has 33 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
N.C. State: G Lorenzo Brown, 6-5 So. (12.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.4 rpg); F C.J. Leslie, 6-8 So. (14.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 53.1% FG); F Richard Howell, 6-8 Jr. (11.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 51% FG). Brown continues to prove he’s one of the most underappreciated point guards in the country after 29 points, 15 assists, 15 rebounds and three steals during upsets over San Diego State and Georgetown.
Why Each Team Is Dangerous
Kansas: The Robinson-Taylor duo is arguably the best inside-outside combination in the country. The two combine for over 34 points per game. With Johnson playing well, it makes Kansas’s offense, which averages 74.4 points and shoots 48 percent from the field, that much more difficult to defend. The Jayhawks also out-rebound opponents by nearly six per game, including 15 offensive boards in the win over Purdue. Defensively, opponents shoot just 38.1 percent from the field against the Jayhawks.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack can score and play defense. They average 73.3 points per game, make 5.3 3s per contest, average 15.8 assists, hold opponents to 41.7 percent from the field, 33.8 from behind the 3-point line and force 12.4 turnovers per game. N.C. State is athletic and long, and on its good nights, and play with anybody in the country. N.C. State is a good rebounding team with a plus-5.3 rebounding margin and had 15 offensive boards in the win over Georgetown. Led by Brown, the Wolfpack are excellent in transition.
Why Each Team Is Vulnerable
Kansas: This Kansas team is less athletic and skilled than Jayhawk teams of the past. They have almost no depth with only seven players averaging more than three minutes per game. The Jayhawk perimeter defense allows opponents to shoot 34.5 percent from behind the arc, and Purdue went 8-for-18 on Sunday. Kansas turns the ball over too much at 13.1 times per contest, allowing opponents to swipe 6.6 steals per game. Kansas sometimes relies on 3-point shooting too often and connect on 35.2 percent behind the arc.
N.C. State: The Pack are inconsistent. They have played their best basketball of late, but they’re capable of really bad games. And when they’re playing poorly, they’re usually turning the ball over. N.C. State averages 12.7 errors per game and has a minus-0.2 turnover margin. The Wolfpack aren’t a great shooting team, hitting 46.3 percent from the floor and 35.8 from behind the 3-point line. Despite their size and athleticism, the Pack scores just 20.2 percent of their points from the foul line, which ranks 172nd in the country.
The Bottom Line: I like N.C. State’s chances of continuing to advance and I really like the Wolfpack getting eight points.
CollegeHoops.Net Pick: North Carolina State 70, Kansas 69
Greg Against the Spread This Season: 214-164-6
NCAA Tournament (through first two rounds): 27-21-1