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March Madness 2012: Georgetown Vs. North Carolina State Preview

The match-up: No. 3 Georgetown (24-8) faces No. 11 North Carolina State (23-12) in a Midwest region round of 32 match-up in Columbus, tipping off at 12:15 p.m. Both teams received at-large bids into the field of 68. After spending weeks inside the national rankings, the Hoyas spot was a mere formality while the Wolfpack were living on the NCAA Tournament bubble until they weren't due in part to an 0-8 pre-tournament record against teams in the AP top 25.

Opening game: Spotty offensively entering the tournament, the Hoyas shot 61.2 percent from the field and handled Belmont 74-59...Behind four double-digit scorers, the Wolfpack downed sixth-seeded San Diego State 79-65.

The history: NC State leads the all-time series 4-2, though Georgetown won the last two meetings including last season's 82-67 win in the championship game of the Charleston Classic.

The coaches: John Thompson III is in his eighth season with the Hoyas and looks to make his first Sweet 16 appearance since the Final Four run in 2007. Mark Gottfried took over the Wolfpack's coaching reigns this season after previous stints with Alabama and Murray State. The two coaches faced each other early in the 2007-08 season when No. 4 Georgetown defeated Alabama 70-60 in Tuscaloosa.

The players: Hoyas leading scorer Jason Clark (13.9 pts) broke out of a long distance shooting slump with four 3-pointers and 21 points against Belmont, the senior guard's most prolific point total in nearly two months. Poised freshman Otto Porter tallied 16 points and eight rebounds in the win while senior center Henry Sims continued his scoring prowess with 15 points. One of seven players in the country to lead his team in assists and blocks, Sims is averaging 19 points over his last three games.

Agile 6-foot-10 forward and NBA prospect C.J. Leslie (14.6 ppg; 53.2 FG percent) scored 15 points against San Diego State, but it was leading rebounding Richard Howell who led the way offensively with 22 points. Point guard Lorenzo Brown ranks 12th nationally in assists (6.4) while Howell's 9.3 rebounds tied him with North Carolina's Tyler Zeller for second place in the ACC.

The stats: The Hoyas have made their mark on the defensive end this season, leading the nation in 3-point shooting defense (27.4 percent) while ranking second among Big East teams in scoring defense (59.0). On the other side, the Wolfpack allow 67.9 points, ranking 202 among DI programs...The Wolfpack averaged 73.4 points during the regular season, third in the ACC behind only Duke and North Carolina, and their 46.3 field goal percentage tied the Tar Heels for the conference lead...The turnover battle will be crucial and the Wolfpack average 13 per game and finished on the wrong side of the turnover margin stat (-0.3)... Both sides get the bulk of their scoring from inside the arc, averaging less than six 3-pointers per game.

What can we extrapolate from last season's match-up in the Charleston Classic? Considering the NC State has a new coach and we know Georgetown's vastly different in terms of personnel and size, not much, although at least two Hoyas have fond memories to draw from.

Hollis Thompson drained 7-of-9 shots including two 3-pointers and led the way with 18 points and nine rebounds. Perhaps another game against the Wolfpack will snap the Big East's leading 3-point shooter out of his recent scoring and shooting slump; over his last three games, Thompson averaged 7.7 points - five below his season average - and missed eight of nine shots from beyond the arc.

Sims also yanked nine boards in just 15 minutes of action - the Hoyas finished with a 47-37 edge on the glass - but this was the game where the 6-foot-10 center's passing artistry stood out for the first time in extended action. Positioned on the high post or in the paint, Sims repeatedly found cutting teammates and most of his five assists - at the time his career high - came during a decisive 19-2 second half run.

Howell led NC State with 14 points in the loss. Leslie missed seven of 10 shots and finished with eight points, but the athletic forward with rim-rattling ability on the offensive end has improved considerably since his freshman season.

Length vs. Length: Georgetown's size has been a vertically imposing advantage throughout the season, but on paper it will simply be an equalizer against an NC State starting lineup that goes 6-foot-5 or taller. Both teams attack the boards and the Hoyas' length manifests itself on the defensive end while the Wolfpack work on the so-called other end of the court has been rough at times.