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NC State’s 2nd Half Turnaround Propels Them to a 76-64 Win Over Duke, Advancing to the FINAL FOUR for the First Time Since ’83

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#11 seed NC State had pretty much led for the entirety of every NCAA Tournament game heading into tonight’s matchup against ACC rival #4 seed Duke in the Elite Eight. How would the Pack handle things if they fell behind?

NC State trailed Duke 21-27 at halftime, shooting only 26.5% from the field. The Wolfpack showed the type of resolve they possess this evening, turning things around in the 2nd half, shooting an insane 73.1% from the field after the break.

With 12:59 remaining in the game, NC State took the lead on a pair of DJ Horne free throws, and they took it for good when he made a jumper at the 11:49 mark.

Senior Forward DJ Burns carried his team to the Final Four this evening, finishing with 29 points, shooting 13 of 19 from the field. Duke quite literally had no answer for Burns. It was a magical thing to watch.

Like it’s been for much of the year, it’s been both DJ’s that have been essential to Wolfpack victories, and it was no different today. Senior Guard DJ Horne 20 points, shooting 7 of 16 from the field, and 2 of 6 from beyond the arc.

For both DJ’s, they shined the brightest in the 2nd half, when the Wolfpack was in desperate need for an offensive spark. They needed their offense to gain the lead, and it would be their offense that held it. Burns scored 21 of his 29 in the 2nd half, and Horne scored 15 of his 20 after the break.

The two DJ’s combined for 65% of NC State’s offense today. They were the only 2 Wolfpack players to score in double figures.

A lot was said about Duke’s spectacular defense in the Big Dance by the commentators in the first half, but the Wolfpack’s defense had the last word, holding the Blue Devils to 32.2% shooting from the field, which was their worst shooting performance of the year.

Junior Guard Michael O’Connell was the floor general, dishing out 6 assists, with only 1 turnover, and in a crazy turn of events, he led the team with 11 rebounds.

The miracle run continues. NC State is headed back to the Final Four for the first time since 1983, and the 4th time ever.

It feels like ’83, but it also feels like something altogether unique as well. Despite what people may think, NC State didn’t need to win the ACC Tournament to go to the NCAA Tournament in 1983. This squad did, and what they have put together with the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament might just be the best run in March ever.

Heck, it feels like ’24.

Matthew is Co-Owner of Pack Insider. He writes for all sports, with a focus on football and recruiting, and is in charge of business strategy. He is an NC State alum who majored in business. Matthew is also the lead pastor of The Point Church in Cary, NC.

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NC State Basketball

NC State’s Mohamed Diarra Has Professional Options in France

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According to a source, when NC State Forward Mohamed Diarra went back home to France after the Final Four, the option of playing professionally in his home country next season became a very viable option.

Diarra has one year of eligibility remaining, and according to my source, the Wolfpack coaching staff obviously wants him back next season in the Red & White.

With that being said, from what I’m hearing, Diarra returning next season to NC State is pretty much a coin toss at this point. It’s worth noting that Diarra just wrapped up his 4th year of college, playing his first two seasons at Garden City Community College, and then 1 year at Missouri before coming to Raleigh.

Diarra was a significant player for NC State all season long, averaging 6.3 points and 7.8 rebounds (team high), but his impact in March was tremendous, recording 10+ rebounds in 7 of the Wolfpack’s 10 postseason games, and five of those performances were double-doubles.

This isn’t an easy decision to make for Diarra, but NC State is somewhat in limbo until he calls his shot. Currently, if Diarra were to pursue the professional route next season, NC State would have a frontcourt made up of Ben Middlebrooks and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield. While those are two good pieces, without Diarra, NC State would be in desperate need to find depth in the post in the Portal pronto.

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NC State’s Kevin Keatts Named Clarence “Big House” Gaines Division I College Basketball Coach of the Year

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NC State’s Kevin Keatts has been named the Clarence “Big House” Gaines Division I College Basketball Coach of the Year.

The Clarence “Big House” Gaines College Basketball Coach of the Year Awards are presented to the head coach in NCAA Division I and Division II, who may not earn recognition from mainstream outlets. (Link)

Kevin Keatts, the men’s basketball coach at North Carolina State University, and Alfred Jordan, the men’s basketball coach at Clark Atlanta University, have been named the Clarence “Big House” Gaines College Basketball Coaches of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. The Gaines Awards will be presented during the NSMA’s 64th awards banquet on July 1, 2024 in Greensboro, N.C.

Keatts, the Division I winner of the Gaines Award, took NC State on a magical run through the postseason. After finishing the regular season with a 17-14 record, the Wolfpack swept five games in five days to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament in Washington, D.C., the Wolfpack’s first ACC Tournament title since 1987. As the ACC’s automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament, NC State then rang up four straight wins to reach the national semifinals, where the Wolfpack lost to eventual runner-up, Purdue University. In seven seasons at NC State, Keatts’ teams are 139-94. His NC State teams have won at least 20 games in five of his seven seasons at NC State. (Link)

Here’s a look at former coaches who have won the award:

 

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WATCH: Pack Insider’s DJ Burns 2024 ACC Tournament Highlight Reel

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There would be no ACC Championship if it weren’t for Senior DJ Burns.

Burns averaged 15.2 points per game over the 5 games, shooting an absurd 62.7% from the field, going on to win the 2024 ACC Tournament MVP Award.

Check out Pack Insider’s DJ Burns 2024 ACC Tournament Highlight Reel.





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NC State vs. Duke in the Elite Eight was the Most Watched Game of the Men’s NCAA Tournament

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The 2024 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has come and gone, but it’s still remarkable to note that the Elite Eight matchup between NC State and Duke was the most watched game of the entire tournament.

Elite 8: Duke/NC State: 15.1 million
Finals: UConn/Purdue: 14.8 million
Final 4: UConn/Alabama: 14.1 million
Final 4: NC State/Purdue: 11.45 million
Elite 8: Purdue/Tennessee: 10.39 million

The game between the two ACC crosstown rivals was the most watched Elite Eight game in the past 5 years. The 15.1 million viewers was more than all but 5 college football games last season.

Sunday’s NC State-Duke NCAA men’s basketball tournament regional final averaged a 6.4 rating and 15.14 million viewers on CBS, marking the most-watched Elite Eight game since Michigan State-Duke in 2019 (16.20M) and the most-watched basketball game of any kind, including the Final Four and NBA Finals, since the 2022 national championship (Kansas-North Carolina: 17.05M)

Since the wave of cancellations and postponements that decimated the industry four years ago, the Wolfpack’s win ranks fifth among basketball games behind the aforementioned 2022 title game, North Carolina-Duke in that year’s Final Four (17.66M), the 2021 national championship (Baylor-Gonzaga: 17.08M) and Gonzaga-UCLA in that year’s Final Four (15.39M). (Link)

(The above information was before the Women’s Championship Game between Iowa and South Carolina beat all of those with 18.89 million.)

 

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