This was one of those weeks where a bunch of ranked teams lose and you want your team to not lose to take advantage. Not that there’s ever an okay time to lose to UNC, anyway, but that loss hurt the Wolfpack this week as they slid down two spots to #17 in this week’s AP poll.
12 of the 15 teams outside the top 10 lost at least one game last week. Five of them lost twice. NC State was lucky to be the sixth as they gritted out a home win against Pitt.
It wasn’t just the top 25 that saw turmoil, the ACC is showing the country why it’s the toughest league around. UNC was still sore from barely getting by the Wolfpack that they went home and got drubbed by 21 to Louisville. Duke escaped the no-fly zone in Tallahassee to win at the buzzer against FSU. Virginia Tech skated by Georgia Tech. Pitt beat Louisville who beat UNC who beat NC State who beat Pitt. The circle keeps going across the league.
It’s been said before, but both of NC State’s ACC wins so far are wins that the Pack historically hasn’t won. The mental toughness to gut out tough wins in a tough league is going to be a hallmark of the Keatts era. That being said, they have been really good at making me a nervous wreck in each of these conference games so far. Are they all going to be like this? State could have gone up double digits in the second half against Pitt, but instead let the lead slip away, went back and forth and eventually did enough to win the game. I’m not sure my heart can take it if the remainder of the season is going to be like this. I will deal with it if they win much more than they lose, but I would like them to settle into comfortably holding a lead.
Because their defensive pressure is bound to lessen at points of the game, it opens the door for teams to make comebacks. My challenge to the team (as if they care what I say or even know this is here) is to take that next step of handily winning a league game against a lower tier opponent. Turns out you’ll have the chance tomorrow night in Winston Salem. Evoking the name Cardiac Pack brings back a lot of memories. I’m not equating this team to that one, just the feeling of anxiety the fans likely felt during those games.
Obviously no wins in the ACC are guaranteed. Duke was lucky to get such a wide open look for the game winning three against FSU. UNC sucks anyway, but they flat out didn’t show up against Louisville and got run off their own floor, a loss which only cost them a single spot in the poll. Four losses and 13th, okay, got it (next four loss team is Nova at #22). So yeah, nothing will be handed to the Pack, and I think they are starting to learn that. Now let’s go out and try to not make me so anxious during a winnable game. And get that ice cream.