Yesterday morning Coach Mark Gottfried was with Mike and Mike on ESPN Radio and he hit on a couple of topics as to why his team has had such a strong finish to the season. His main supporting argument as to why they upset the #1 seeded Villanova Wildcats was the strength of schedule that the Pack played this season. Not only does NC State play in the best basketball conference in the nation (5 teams in the Sweet 16) but the Wolfpack didn’t rely solely on the class of the ACC, they went out and played a challenging non-conference schedule. Coach Gottfried spoke about how his guys saw Villanova as just another team in front of them and how they have great confidence each night because of the teams they have played thus far.
He then cited the facts that our players have proven capable of beating world class opponents as they have won on the road versus Louisville and UNC. He pointed out that his guys have kept their heads up through the low points and have never lost that sense of belief. A quote I love from former player Scott Wood is, “if you don’t play anyone, you don’t beat anyone.” How true is this statement? How often do we see top seeds coast through an easy non-conference schedule and a weaker conference only to find their way out of the tournament before the second weekend?
Not only has Coach Gottfried made it a point of emphasis to schedule a tough non-conference schedule that is usually comprised of teams that have a track record for making the NCAA Tournament but he has laid a blue print for getting into the dance as well. Many can argue that in the last few years and even this season a big reason why the committee overlooked the fact that our teams have lost more than 12 games is because we have had such a high RPI and SOS. Gottfried recognizes this and this is the reason he will continue to schedule the best of the best.
Let’s take a look at how NC State moved past what looked like a classic example of a collapse within the last minute of the Villanova game. In the last minute or so the Wildcats chose to press the Pack which we handled with success, until Trevor Lacey was about to get trapped and the unthinkable happens…he over throws a wide-open Dez Lee at half court. At this juncture I know that Wolfpack fans across the country thought not again! With 36.8 seconds remaining the Wildcats were only down 2 points and it’s their ball. Our guys all look towards each other and make the choice to not allow Trevor to be the scape goat. In that next to final possession our guys defend like their lives depended on it and the Wildcats missed a three pointer to win it. Cat Barber collects the rebound and in the next 14 seconds State steps up and sinks free throws to win the game.
In my opinion the Wolfpack didn’t collapse because they have seen every possible situation this season and have learned how to handle adversity. By playing a rigorous schedule, the Pack has learned that you must never give up or let your guard down. If our guys would have lost focus and thought that the game was over once the Wildcats missed with 14 seconds remaining we could very well be talking about what could have been. Luckily for the Wolfpack, they have learned their lessons and have begun to apply them at the right time. Let’s hope we can use all of our experiences this coming Friday and keep the momentum going as we look to take down the Cardinals of Louisville for a second time this season
It’s Not Over Till It’s Over
Look…I know the odds of NC State’s Men’s Basketball team going to the NCAA Tournament is next to zero percent.
In fact, according to Bart Torvik, the Wolfpack have a 1.1% chance of making the Dance as an at-large bid.
Don’t accuse me of wearing rose colored glasses, because I’m not. The fact remains, it’s not over until it is over.
What would have to happen for NC State to make the NCAA Tournament?
More than likely, NC State would have to win out the rest of the way, in games against Boston College, @ FSU, @ UNC, Duke and @ Pitt.
Maybe there’s a scenario where the Wolfpack beats BC, FSU, Pitt and beats either Duke or UNC. In order for that to play out, I imagine the Wolfpack would have to make a splash in the ACC Tournament as well.
Or maybe NC State could earn a bid winning 4 of 5 if they all of a sudden put together astronomical offensive and defensive efficiency numbers, which thus far has killed their position in the NET Rankings.
Either way, you would need some legit Cardiac Pack vibes for this team to make the Dance.
Call me unrealistic, but I think NC State should be in the NCAA Tournament every single season. Historically speaking, heading into this season, NC State ranked 27th for the most wins in college basketball history. If I lowered the standard a bit to 75%, accounting for an off year every now and then, the program is still way off the mark.
Read into this what you will, but if the Wolfpack doesn’t go to the Big Dance this year, that means they will have only gone twice in the past 7 years, and in my opinion, that’s unacceptable.
With that being said…GO PACK!
#6 NC State 70 UNC 80: BOX SCORE (with notes)
#6 NC State was defeated by their rival UNC this evening, falling 70-80 to the Tar Heels. Below is the Box Score with notes underneath.
- This game came down to shooting.
- UNC shot 50.8% from the field and NC State shot 35.2%.
- The Tar Heels shot an insane 52.4% from three, hitting 11 from beyond the arc.
- The Wolfpack shot 9 of 27 from deep.
- Junior Guard Aziaha James led the Pack with 24 points (10-24), and also grabbed 9 rebounds.
- Senior Forward Mimi Collins had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
- The Pack needed to feed Collins. She was 3 of 6 from the field.
- Junior Guard Saniya Rivers had 13 points (4-13), and knocked down 4 three pointers (3-6).
- Senior Guard Madison Hayes had 11 points (4-12) and 9 boards.
- Senior Center River Baldwin struggled, hitting 2 of her 9 shots.
- The Wolfpack did manage to score 17 second chance points, compared to UNC’s 7.
- They also made 11 free throws, compared to UNC’s 5.
- UNC played extremely good defense, but NC State missed an obscene amount of shots around the rim.
- The Tar Heels looked like the better team tonight, leading for 3/4th of the game.
The Wolfpack will play at Duke on Sunday at 5:30pm on ACC Network.
#6 NC State Looks to Sweep Rival UNC This Evening
The 6th ranked NC State Women’s Basketball team is looking to sweep their rival UNC this evening at 8pm on ACC Network. Back on February 1st, the Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels 63-59. At the time NC State was ranked 5th, and UNC was ranked 24th.
Since arriving in Raleigh, Wolfpack Head Coach Wes Moore has led NC State to a 13-9 overall record against the Tar Heels, but they are 4-6 in Chapel Hill under his watch.
NC State lost to UNC the last time the game was played in enemy territory, falling 46-57 loss in Carmichael Arena on January 15th of last year. In that contest, the Wolfpack were ranked 11th and the Tar Heels were ranked 22nd.
If NC State wins tonight, it will mark the 4th time that Moore has led the Wolfpack to sweep UNC in the regular season.
Historically, NC State holds a 63-54 advantage in the series against UNC, but they are 20-30 on the road.
NC State’s Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Late Season Watchlist for the Naismith Women’s College Coach of the Year Award
NC State Women’s Basketball Head Coach Wes Moore is 1 of 15 on the Naismith Late Season Watchlist for the Coach of the Year Award.
The leader of our Pack 🐺🐺
— NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) February 21, 2024
Currently, Moore has led NC State from being unranked in the preseason polls, to #6 currently. The Wolfpack are 23-3, and numerous publications project them to be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Moore was a finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award in 2020-21 and a Semifinalist in 2015-16.