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NC State Basketball: 3 keys to victory over Marquette in the Sweet 16

NC State is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015. What must the Wolfpack do to topple 2-seed Marquette?

Can DJ Burns help keep the Wolfpack's improbable run alive?
Can DJ Burns help keep the Wolfpack's improbable run alive? / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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2. Let the big fella go to work

Quality guard play is the common thread that runs through most teams that find NCAA Tournament success. NC State has that, as Morsell, DJ Horne, and Jayden Taylor are all very good players that average in double figures. What the Wolfpack also has, though, is a not-so-secret weapon that goes by the name of DJ Burns.

Burns is a unique player that is impossible to deal with one-on-one. He's listed at 275 pounds and loves nothing more than using his weight to back less beefy centers into the post. Once there, you're at his mercy, as he can go through you, over you, or around you with a surprisingly nimble spin move and a deft touch around the basket. Burns bends the defense to his will, and his passing ability allows him to find open teammates all over the court when teams try to double him.

Marquette has some recent experience dealing with an imposing presence in the post, as they just finished surviving against Eddie Lampkin of Colorado on Sunday. The big man had a solid game, posting totals of 13 points and seven rebounds, but it wasn't enough to overcome the Golden Eagles, who shot over 60% from the field. I will never forgive Marquette for depriving the world of the inevitable Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire crossover that we could have had if Burns and Lampkin had the chance to rumble. Why else make NIL legal if we can't have that?

Marquette is not a deep team. Shaka Smart usually only plays seven players, but Burns can force him into some difficult decisions if he can get Oso Ighodaro and David Joplin into foul trouble. Regardless, State is at its best when the offense runs through the big fella. Let him go to work.