What’s the biggest rivalry in college basketball? That’s easy. It features two teams that wear two different shades of blue that make their homes on two different campuses in North Carolina. They’re actually a hop, skip and a jump apart from one another. Some say it’s arguably the greatest rivalry in all of sports. Here’s what’s funny. There’s another school in Raleigh who has seen themselves, for a very long time, as a rival of those other two as well.
The NC State Wolfpack and their fan base have never been too fond of those guys from Chapel Hill or Durham. I don’t think anyone outside of that campus regularly looks at the Wolfpack as if their program sits at the same level, but they aspire to be; and if they can improve on last season, then, realistically, the games against their big brothers in the conference can become a little more interesting to the rest of the nation.
Here’s the bad news. After sneaking into the tournament last year, the Wolfpack put together an impressive run, the highlight of which was their upset against the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats. Things were looking pretty good. Then, Trevor Lacey decided it was time to get paid and play big boy ball at the next level. Right after that, Kyle Washington decided he was leaving to go play his college ball on somebody else’s campus. There’s good news too, though. They’ve still got Anthony Barber, Abdul-Malik Abu and Beejay Anya.
Terry Henderson joins an already-talented roster after transferring from the West Virginia Mountaineers, and Maverick Rowan is a highly-touted freshman who gives the unit some pop and figures to find his way into the rotation early and often. On Sept. 10, the Wolfpack signed one of the stars of next year’s class by landing Dennis Smith, one of the best point guards in the country.
Clearly, Mark Gottfried has done his job. Now, it’s just a matter of putting it all together and proving this team can compete among the best teams in NCAA basketball.