Ratchet Up Your Rooting Mechanisms

The Pack heavyweight could become the program's sixth national champion (and help wash that bad taste from epic hoops heartache out of our mouths). The Pack women get underway in the women's tourney today as well.

There are still things to root for. First and foremost, Nick Gwiazdowski, N.C. State's sophomore heavyweight wrestler, is grappling for a national championship tonight on ESPN. Gwiazdowski, the tournament's #2 seed, takes on #1 seed Tony Nelson, a two-time defending national champion from Minnesota. Coverage begins on ESPN tonight at 8 p.m.

Gwiazdowski suffered one of his two defeats this season against Nelson, a 1-0 setback in the Southern Scuffle. The Pack heavyweight did defeat Nelson twice over the summer in the U.S. World Team Trials; Gwiazdowski finished third in that event.

You can flip over to the mothership after watching women's basketball open its NCAA tournament against BYU. The 16th ranked Pack, a five seed, take on the Cougars on ESPN2 at 6:30. Hopefully this 12 seed over a five seed thing does not apply to women's basketball.

Three things to watch in the game will be foul trouble, the health of Markeisha Gatling, and how the Pack handle BYU star Jennifer Hamson, who recorded 20 double doubles this year. Hamson, a 6-7 junior, averages 18.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game. The Pack, decimated by injuries, have a very short bench, and Gatling, the team's leading scorer (17.6) and rebounder (7.1) was dinged in the ACC tournament. The team needs her at 100% and on the floor to make a sustained run. Resident BTP women's hoops expert sbas2 expects Gatling to be good to go. Read his thoughts on the game here.

If a pep talk from Mr. Belding (fast-forward to about the three-minute mark) does not spark a long tournament run from the women, I will have lost my last shred of hope that this world might turn out to be right and decent.

Hope is dwindling on the diamond, where the Pack nine embarrassed themselves Friday night in College Park, losing 10-0 with Carlos Rodon on the mound. The infield did what it could to undo the junior lefty, as everyone save Trea Turner took turns making miscues. Jake Armstrong, Andrew Knizner, and Logan Ratledge all made an error, and Brett Austin contributed a passed ball. Rodon gave up eight runs in 4.2 innings and every damn one of them was unearned. He didn't exactly help himself with four walks, two hit batters, and two wild pitches, though he did strike out eight.

Bubba Riley, last seen doing this, was injured for his spectacular efforts and did not play Friday. It's tough to say his bat was missed in the lineup; all bats were missed, or rather missing. State struck out 17 times, SEVENTEENTIMES, in getting shut out for the third time this season. Hopefully this is rock bottom. Remember that the Pack opened ACC play 4-7 last year before going on a 15-game winning streak; they were on a 32-4 stretch before losing the last two games of the season in Omaha.

The squad will try to get its excrement together today at 2 p.m.

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