Say what you want about North Carolina State.
Sure, the Wolfpack began the year ranked within the top ten and have seemingly not lived up to expectations despite the loaded and experienced roster that they feature. The criticism that they receive is well deserved. In fact, the last time they picked up a quality win was back on Jan. 26 against North Carolina.
However, let’s be serious. N.C. State has more than enough capability to make a run down the stretch here, whether that’s in the ACC Tournament, NCAA Tournament, or both. Just a year ago, the Wolfpack were a No. 11 seed within the Big Dance, but managed to make a run to the Sweet 16. That’s what ultimately boosted their preseason hype and despite some of their up and down struggles during the regular season this year, the Wolfpack are still a team that nobody should want to face.
On Thursday, the Wolfpack will prepare for their first match-up within the ACC Tournament. A date with Virginia Tech is set in stone and one that N.C. State can use a launching pad to gather some momentum. While the Wolfpack hold the fifth seed in the field, North Carolina State does have a “favorable” schedule, should they be able to make a run.
If they advance past the Hokies, the Wolfpack would then square off with Virginia, who has seemingly not helped their own tournament resume down the stretch here. If N.C. State can get past the quarterfinal round, then they would then presumably square off against Miami (FL), a team that just barely beat them in the regular season on a Reggie Johnson tip-in as the clock sounded.
It’s an uncertain equation and one that will obviously have to play its course, but the bottom line is this: don’t be surprised if North Carolina State gears up for an ACC Tournament run and finds themselves still playing on Saturday or even Sunday of next week.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS