I know what you’re thinking.
This guy is trying to get me with some NC State / NCAA Tournament clickbait?
Well maybe I am, but now that you’re here, might as well give this a read, because I’m serious when I say the Pack CAN make the big dance.
Before you shoot me down or get me cancelled on social media, let me explain.
First, let’s start with where the Pack stands right now and what their upcoming schedule looks like. At this moment, Pack sits at 11-9 on the season and 7-8 in the ACC. As far as NET Rankings go, which the committee most certainly looks at (except maybe in the 2018-19 season.) State sits at 79…which is not quite ideal. The Pack is currently 1-6 vs Q1 team, 2-2 vs Q2, 3-0 vs Q3, and 5-1 vs Q4. That dud against Miami hurts but the Pack does have strong wins against UNC and now UVA. Then you look at our RPI which sits at 131, also not great.
OK…so now that most of you are gone and bashing me on Twitter, all of us real fans can take a deeper look at how the Pack can make this happen.
The Pack has 3 games left.
First up is a very winnable, very well-timed matchup against a struggling Pitt team who is in the midst of losing a guy that is potentially their best player in Xavier Johnson, followed only hours later by the loss of another top scorer and elite defender in Au’Diese Toney. State would really need to lay an egg to lose this one amidst the Pitt turmoil.
After that, you’re looking a Notre Dame. The Irish have been up and down all season, but for the most part, has struggled against the tougher teams in the ACC. Now don’t get me wrong, Notre Dame is always a well-coached, talented team and it won’t be easy to beat them on the road. But this is also a winnable one for the Pack, especially with the way the freshmen have played. And get this, Notre Dame is sitting at 73 in the NET and the game is on the road, meaning this would be considered a Tier 1 win!
Finally, your toughest test comes at home against Virginia Tech.
The Hokies sit currently at 51 in NET rankings and as we stated, this one is in Raleigh, which would make a win here Tier 2. This is a tough one for the Pack as VT has run through the ACC without any real bad losses (though they did lose to Georgia Tech pretty bad the other night – post-COVID pause). Luckily for the Pack, this is at home and, at the moment, it’s likely they will have a portion of the fans allowed in the arena, giving them some TRUE home-court advantage. If State can remain hot (they’d be on a 5 game wins streak at this point) and the freshman play well, the Pack could pull off this W as well.
OK. So assume the Pack does pull off 6 straight wins heading into the ACC Tourney. That doesn’t even guarantee us an at-large bid, does it?
If everything were to stay the same in the NET rankings, and the Pack win their next three, that would give them 2 Q1 wins (2-6), Q2 would be 3-2, Q3 at 4-0, and Q5 at 5-1. From that view, it would still be hard to say that the Pack is locked in.
But again, that’s assuming nothing changes. Things WILL change, and to figure out how other teams factor in, we need to take a look at the standings.
State would sit at 10-8 in the ACC. 10 wins could put NC State in the top 5 or 6 in total wins. Now, the rest would be up to other teams ACC. Let’s look at a couple of teams that are currently in, according to Joey Brackets.
- Louisville Cardinals
Currently NET 48 with zero Q1 wins and 7-0 with Q2. 7-4 in the ACC. So fewer loses, in fewer games, but still just 7 wins in the ACC….and a final 3 games against red hot Duke, Virginia, and VT.
- UNC (of course ESPN thinks are in:: sarcasm)
8-5 in the ACC. one Q1 win, 6-1 vs Q2, and 0 Q4 losses. UNC also faces a tough draw in its final 3 with FSU and Duke at home, along with a tough road game against Syracuse.
State has a real chance to tie or come out ahead of those teams in ACC wins, while at the same time possibly have more Q1 wins than both. Who gets in then?
This was a crazy year for college basketball with COVID.
The Pack was certainly affected by the virus and its protocols. State had a long break where they couldn’t practice, and the freshmen missed a lot of early preseason games. Then, some of their early losses came without a full lineup, and when the Pack did get to full strength, down went Devon Daniels.
Came off COVID and did not have DJ Fundy or Cam Hayes. Fell apart late and lost by 11
Would have been a Q1 win and lost in Overtime. No Braxton Beverly
Still would have been a loss, but not having Bates against the biggest team in the ACC made it worse
A close loss in the first game without Devon Daniels
Now I know all this sounds like excuses, and there were bad losses (Miami) where they were full strength and still lost. But I will be curious to see how the committee will weigh a lot of these factors.
Young teams certainly had an uphill battle and struggled mightily to start the season. Teams were forced to shut down for weeks a time and some teams only played a fraction of the games that others did.
Soo…Can We Make The Big Dance or not?
Even with the Pack winning out the regular season, it still looks like an uphill battle to get in. But, as you can see, there will be a lot more for the committee to look at.
What if State at 10-8 finishes in the top half of the ACC? What if the Pack have more Q1 wins than other teams that are considered tournament teams? How much consideration will be taken in on losses without a full lineup? And how will all that weigh on the committee with the Pack on a 6-game win streak and 2 Q1 wins down the stretch?
Now, destiny is in State’s hand, and they certainly need to win out the regular season to even have a chance. But they have been playing great as of late and your talented freshman have really started to turn the corner.
You are also seeing Beverly playing some of the best ball of the season now that he doesn’t have to hold reigns as the primary distributor. You have young guys growing into their roles and a team that seems to be gelling at the right time.
My prediction is if State wins out, followed by a quality win in the ACC tournament, they will be sitting pretty on the bubble come Selection Sunday. Two wins in the ACC tournament and you can go ahead and punch your ticket.
So call me crazy but I think State can get it done.