The 16-4 North Carolina State Wolfpack aren’t inconsistent, they just can’t play on the road.
One of the nation’s most frustrating teams continues to show flashes of brilliance only to follow it up with a hair pulling effort.
The Wolfpack have knocked off bitter rivals the Duke Blue Devils and North Carolina Tar Heels but still can’t be considered conference favorites. North Carolina State can’t be considered ACC favorites because they can’t seem to win big games away from their home court.
In the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Finals they had one of the most embarrassing efforts in school history at a time every preseason prediction had them at the top of the conference. They were blown out by 20 points to the Oklahoma State Cowboys after C.J. Leslie was ejected for losing his cool.
Two games later they lost in a solid effort against the Michigan Wolverines. The Wolfpack battled hard all game long and looked strong before the home town Wolverines took control late for a 79-72 victory.
After the Michigan loss, N.C. State went on a 10 game win streak that opened conference action with three straight wins. Unfortunately, the road struggles continued after the win streak was snapped by the Maryland Terrapins in 51-50 loss. Two games later the Wolfpack lost again away from Raleigh, this time in an 86-84 defeat to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
The disappointing part of three of the four losses is they are all games N.C. State held leads in during the second half. The wheels came off after Leslie’s ejection in Puerto Rico, however the Wolfpack could have easily won all three other contests.
Playing away from their home court is something the Wolfpack need to figure out immediately as their next game is a visit to the Virginia Cavaliers on Jan. 29. If their recent struggles continue it’s likely this is a game that will get away from N.C. State in the final minutes. However, if the trend does continue it’ll be just as likely the Wolfpack would return home and knock off the Miami(FL) Hurricanes on Feb. 2.
Regardless of what happens in either of those games, Feb. 7 will be the team’s biggest test of the season. A poor outing against Duke at the Cameron Indoor Stadium would remove everything N.C. State accomplished in the team’s first meeting.