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Putting NC State’s 2022 basketball season in context

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I don’t know if I feel better or not.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Clemson vs NC State Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Every coach that NC State has had since Herb Sendek has cratered during his time in Raleigh—some earlier than others—with Kevin Keatts the latest to join this unfortunate club. To offer some perspective on what happened in 2022, I went and found the five worst State teams of the 21st century, by Pomeroy Rating.

Here those are:

Worst State Teams Of This Century

... KenPom Rtg Ovr Win Pct ACC Win Pct
... KenPom Rtg Ovr Win Pct ACC Win Pct
2022 (Keatts) 143 .344 (11-21) .200 (4-16)
2008 (Lowe) 110 .484 (15-16) .250 (4-12)
2017 (Gottfried) 109 .469 (15-17) .222 (4-14)
2011 (Lowe) 87 .484 (15-16) .313 (5-11)
2009 (Lowe) 81 .533 (16-14) .375 (6-10)

The circumstances were a little different for each coach. Sidney Lowe’s crater season was his second, and while the Wolfpack got better after that, they didn’t get much closer to making the NCAAs. Lowe’s teams never finished better than 6-10 in ACC play.

The Gott man’s crater year was of course his last—it came after another off year the season prior, which Gottfried rightfully survived given that it was the first time one of his teams missed the NCAA Tournament. But two bad years in a row, the worst in year six overall, wasn’t gonna work.

Keatts’ tenure so far has looked a lot like Gottfried’s, especially if you count Keatts’ first three seasons as NCAA years, even if there was only one official appearance in there. Year two was a snub, and year three was the pandemic year.

Keatts’ fourth season slipped away for good after Devon Daniels got hurt, as the team immediately lost four out of five, but State did rally to win five straight to close the regular season and finish above .500 in the ACC.

This year, well, I don’t have to detail. The question is whether or not Keatts is capable of coming back from a campaign this bad, and while I think he’s a better coach than either Gottfried or Lowe, recent history doesn’t provide a lot of encouragement. We won’t be able to properly assess his chances until the roster is settled, but the task seems daunting right about now.