NC State @ Boston College
Noon | Boston, MA | ESPN3
State is coming off a pretty impressive stretch with wins over Louisville and UNC (both ranked in the top 15). They have really put themselves in a good spot come selection Sunday, but the season isn’t quite over. This is still a young team and they’ve been accustomed to streakiness all season long which likely gives most State fans pause when thinking about today’s Boston College game. Sure the Eagles are in last place in the ACC and only have 1 victory, but this is the ACC and if you know anything, you know that anything is possible. Case in point, Pitt has been one of the hottest teams in the ACC over the past month, but on Tuesday night they almost lost to Boston College when Olivier Hanlan went off for 39 points. State can’t allow something like this to happen if they want to stay off the bubble. This is a game they’ll have to keep their focus and really concentrate on execution and defensive pressure. Here are our keys….
Stay Humble, Stay Hungry
This State team is different than a lot of others we’ve seen in the past. This team doesn’t have a ton of ego or attitudes on it. It’s a group of guys that, for the most part, are on the same page. The reason they have been so streaky has not been because they don’t feel like putting in the work, or are’ too cool/ too good’ to compete in some of the lesser games, but because they are young and still learning to win together. This team has always been improving since day 1. They went from a team that depended strictly on Lacey and Turner to a team that usually has 4 legit scoring option on the floor at any given time. They seem to have a clear vision of where they want to be. After the UNC game they celebrated but they all talked about “we have to keep going…the season isn’t over” in their interviews. This was a good sign and a reason to believe that this team thinks they could do something very special come March.
On the road in what might be a pretty empty stadium against the ACC’s last place team. Gottfried is going to have to do his best job to keep the guys zeroed in and focused on business. One thing State can’t do is come out soft and think they can go through the motions in this one. BC is pretty bad, but they are an ACC team and have enough talent to take advantage if you’re not prepared. The Pack needs to focus in on their mission. Sure this should be an easy win on paper, but you know how that usually goes. This is going to have to be a point of emphasis for the Wolfpack bigs. Freeman and Abu have done a great job throwing their bodies around in the post and it’s a real reason Gott has stayed with that lineup. BC isn’t strong in the paint and has had trouble rebounding all season long. If the Pack bigs come out looking to get physical, the Eagles aren’t going to have much of a chance.
Remeber the guy that dropped 4o points in an ACC tournament game as a freshman? Yeah, he’s still around and he’s been white hot over the last few weeks. Olivier Hanlan has scored over 3o points in 4 of his last 6 games. He went to the foul line 14 times against Pitt last time out and connected on all 14. He’s BC’s motor. You stop him and you stop the Eagles. State will probably start with Lacey on him, but you could see Barber end up there by game’s end. I wouldn’t be surprised to see State face guard Hanlan like they did Paige (if Hanlan gets hot early). BC doesn’t have many more playmakers, so taking him out of the game would spell death for BC.
Here is the 2024 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament Bracket
The bracket for the 2024 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament is here. The 10th ranked NC State is the #2 seed in the tournament, and their first game will be on Friday at 5pm on ACC Network.
The Wolfpack will play the winner of the Duke (7 seed) vs. Georgia Tech (10 seed)/Pitt (15 seed).
NC State defeated Pitt 83-47 on February 11th, and they defeated Georgia Tech 86-85 on February 18th.
The Wolfpack lost to Duke 58-69 on February 25th. NC State entered the game as 1.5-point favorites, but ended up losing in enemy territory.
Georgia Tech defeated Pitt 68-58 on January 7th. Duke defeated both Georgia Tech and Pitt this season, defeating the Yellow Jackets 84-46 on January 14th, and the Panthers on 69-38 on February 1st.
There is Reason to be Frustrated
If you are an NC State fan, it’s only reasonable that you’re frustrated with the state of the Men’s Basketball program.
Under Kevin Keatts, NC State has gone to the NCAA Tournament twice in 7 seasons. The Wolfpack didn’t win a game in the Big Dance in either of those appearances.
Keatts has led NC State to a 3-5 record in the ACC Tournament, failing to reach the semifinals a single time.
You could make an argument that his first season in Raleigh was his best (I don’t think it was), because the Wolfpack finished 5th in the ACC, which is the highest the team has finished in the conference under his watch.
2017-18 – 5th
2018-19 – 8th
2019-20 – 6th
2020-21 – 9th
2021-22 – 15th
2022-23 – 6th
2023-23 – 9th (currently)
Average finish: 8.3
(For context, in 6 seasons, Mark Gottfried’s average finish was 8.7.)
Over the past 7 seasons, NC State has been ranked in the Top-25 in only 8 polls (2 separate seasons), with the highest being on January 7th, 2019, when the Wolfpack were ranked 15th.
Under Gottfried, NC State was ranked in 13 polls (all one season). With Herb Sendek at the helm, the Wolfpack were ranked in the Top-25 in 5 different seasons, in a total of 35 polls.
Do I think Kevin Keatts is the worst coach at NC State in recent memory? No, that award goes to Sydney Lowe. In all reality, NC State’s record overall and in conference play is nearly identical under Keatts, as it was under Mark Gottfried and Herb Sendek.
Kevin Keatts – 58.3/48.3
Mark Gottfried – 58.9/45.3
Herb Sendek – 59.1/45.0
What’s the difference between Keatts and the other two?
A couple of observations.
Sendek finished his time at NC State with 5 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, and Gottfried started off his tenure with 4 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The Wolfpack advanced to the 2nd round 3 times, and the Sweet 16 once under Sendek. Under Gottfried, they advanced to the 2nd round twice.
Sendek led NC State to the ACC Championship game 3 times (in 10 years), and the semifinals 4 times. Gottfried led the Wolfpack to the semifinals on 3 occasions. Heck, Sidney Lowe led NC State to the ACC Championship game once, and the semifinals on another occasion.
Is the NC State Men’s Basketball program worse off under Keatts than it was under the previous coaches? If you simply look at total wins and losses, that’s not necessarily the case, but when you look at the Wolfpack’s production in postseason play, there is no other answer besides ‘yes.’
Every now and then you have to be willing to eat crow. Years ago, I was of the opinion that Herb Sendek needed to go. Do I think that Sendek would have brought NC State back to where it was in the 80’s? I didn’t think it then, and I’m not certain my opinion on that has changed, but the past 20 years has proven to me that the grass isn’t always greener.
Call me nostalgic, but from a historical perspective, I believe NC State fans have right to expect their Men’s Basketball program to be successful…to consistently be ranked in the Top-25…to finish in the top half of the ACC…compete for conference championships…and go to the Big Dance on a regular basis.
There is reason to be frustrated.
Madison Hayes Will Be Returning for Her Final Year of Eligibility in 2024-25
Last night NC State Guard Madison Hayes was honored on Senior Night, but she also announced that she would be returning in 2024-25 for her final year of eligibility. She was honored alongside Center River Baldwin and Forward Mimi Collins, who are both out of eligibility after this season.
Hayes is in the midst of a breakout season this year, averaging 11.7 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, which are both career highs. She ranks 3rd on the team in scoring, behind the other two Guards in the starting lineup, Aziaha James and Saniya Rivers, who will also be back in 2024-25. Even though she is a Guard, Hayes leads the Wolfpack in rebounding. Her 44.1% Field Goal Percentage is the best of any of the Wolfpack Guards, and her Three Point Percentage of 41.7% is the best on the squad.
As a Senior in high school, Hayes was named a McDonald’s All-American in 2020, and she earned a spot on the All SEC Freshman team in 2021 as a member of Mississippi St. In 2021-22, she transferred to NC State, and played in 26 games off the bench, but earned a spot in the starting lineup last season.
Big news for the Wolfpack Women’s Basketball program!