For years, I've wanted to put together the definitive list of gut-wrenching, devastating NC State losses. The compendium of NC State S***, if you will. Last night has spurred me to finally do it.
I'll count down from 25 to 1 in a series of fanshots.
I subjectively balanced these factors:
Nature of loss: Did we blow a big lead? Lose in bizarre fashion? Get everyone's hopes up only to have them crushed? Ref screwjobs are prominent in most of the worst losses.
Stakes: Self-explanatory, some games are more important than others. A painful loss in the NCAA tournament is worse than a painful loss in a random non-conference game.
Hindsight: Some losses look worse over time due to subsequent events. E.g., the Thornton charge/technical game at Maryland which led to a season-destroying collapse. Others are not as painful in retrospect. E.g., the 1999 football loss to UNC led to Mike O'Cain's dismissal.
Opponent: Major bonus if the loss is to UNC, bonus if the loss is to Duke, Maryland, or some other particularly hateable foe.
Venue: Home losses suck worse.
Other notes: There's a recency bias here, I'm sure. On the other hand, if a loss from 20+ years ago is bad enough to still be remembered vividly, then I'm moving it up the list.
I'm sure I have forgotten some real soul-crushers so feel free to make suggestions in the comments as we go along.
Without further ado, the Dishonorable Mentions. I considered these games but they didn't make the cut. As you'll see, these are some nasty, nasty losses. Tremble in fear at the pain in store as we discuss even worse ones soon. (For the top 25 I will post YouTube clips from the games when available).
March 17, 2002: UConn 77, NC State 74 (NCAA Round of 32)
The toughest cut from the list. Two highly questionable calls go against State at the game's end. Didn't make the list only because, after a 10 year absence, we were just happy to be back in the tournament.
September 13, 2003: Ohio State 44, NC State 38 (OT) and November 15, 2003: Florida State 50, NC State 44 (2OT)
Two absolutely brutal losses. I could write thousands of words about each. Didn't make the list because they were road games against great teams that no one expected State to win anyway (and there's a far worse loss from this season which did make the list), and we could take pride in how well the team did play even in defeat. But the fact that these two don't make the top 25 demonstrates just how much worse it will get.
February 2, 2013: Miami 79, NC State 78
You could make a good case for this one. Another tough omission.
March 6, 2005: Wake Forest 55, NC State 53
The Nut Punch game. Would have been a no-brainer for the list except that we soundly beat Wake 5 days later in the ACC Tournament and ultimately made the Sweet 16.
November 27, 2010: Maryland 38, NC State 31
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. A worse loss from this year did make the list.
March 2, 2003: Maryland 68, NC State 65
Drew Nicholas drains a step back 3 at the buzzer. This one sucked.
September 29, 2012: Miami 44, NC State 37
State has the ball, game tied, with under 1 minute left, and somehow loses in regulation. Interception, then Miami throws a 70 yard hail mary with 19 second left. Epic stupidity.
March 25, 2005: Wisconsin 65, NC State 56 (Sweet 16)
Blew a 9 point halftime lead with a chance to play UNC in the Elite 8 on the line. Didn't make the cut because a Sweet 16 is a good season and we didn't get screwed in this game.
March 23, 2012: Kansas 60, NC State 57 (Sweet 16)
Basically the same as the Wisconsin situation 7 years prior.
September 10, 2006: Akron 20, NC State 17
Just embarrassing. Also, the Akron runner's knee clearly touched the ground before he scored the game winning TD, and somehow the replay officials chose to not even review it. Not on the list only because this entire year was a disaster and one more win would have changed little.
March 11, 2007: UNC 89, NC State 80 (ACC Tournament Final)
Had a real shot here but tired legs gave out. Overachieving team, so we can't get too upset about not winning a 4th game in 4 days. Also, the Sidney Lowe years never happened.
November 18, 2007: New Orleans 65, NC State 63 and December 8, 2007: ECU 75, NC State 69
Nope, didn't happen. No sir.