Road to the NCAA Tournament: Sleeper Team of the Week: North Carolina State Wolfpack
The North Carolina State Wolfpack began the season ranked No. 6 overall and were in the discussion for number one team in the country almost immediately, but an early season blowout loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys and a loss to the Michigan Wolverines a few games later caused the Wolfpack to drop under the radar for a while. Don’t sleep on North Carolina State, because they are still one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
The Wolfpack have five players averaging double figures in a game, and these five players are averaging over 64 points a game. C.J. Leslie is one of the best Forwards in the country, Richard Howell is averaging a double-double on the season, and don’t forget about the outstanding play of Lorenzo Brown who is averaging seven assists per game. North Carolina State is one of the best and most explosive offensive teams in the country – Mark Gottfried just needs his team to step it up on defense against top opponents.
The Wolfpack have some work to do against the opponents of the same caliber as stronger ACC opposition, but are one of the most consistent teams in the country at beating the teams that they are supposed to beat. The only considerably bad team that North Carolina State lost to was the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The other losses were against highly talented, ranked teams in close games, or teams away from home like Maryland and Virginia who can play themselves into the NCAA tournament with strong ACC tournament performances.
North Carolina State is sitting at fourth in the ACC and has the opportunity to get to third with a Duke win over North Carolina – setting the Wolfpack in prime position from the ACC tournament. After the loss to Michigan early in November, North Carolina State went on a 10 game winning streak that included wins over UConn and No. 1 Duke. If the Wolfpack can finish the season string and finish with a good run in the ACC tournament, they can carry that momentum into the NCAA tournament and make it farther than many expect.
Remember, this is still the team that was the preseason No. 6 and North Carolina State’s talent level is on par with the top teams in the country. The Wolfpack did not achieve that No. 6 preseason recognition by accident, and even if they have had a semi-disappointing season, North Carolina State will still be one of the most dangerous teams in the country once the NCAA tournament begins.