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Wes Moore’s comeback machine has struck again

They can keep getting away with this, apparently

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

On Thursday night, NC State delivered on an incredible fourth-quarter rally to beat Courtney Banghart’s North Carolina team in overtime. The Pack trailed by 10 with less than five minutes to play, but would finish the game on a 32-11 run including overtime to score a double-digit win.

If you were new to NC State basketball, you may mistake this as a miraculous comeback for the ages. But if you’ve been watching Wes Moore’s team the last three years, it’s more likely you recognized this as business as usual.

Moore’s team has made a habit of exploding large fourth-quarter deficits since the start of the 2020-21 season. The Pack has erased five double-digit fourth quarter deficits in the last three seasons. If you shrink that threshold to eight, State has crushed eight teams that thought they had it in the bag.

Boston College - December 13, 2020

NC State trails Boston College 63-47 with 8:03 remaining

Win probability: 0.3%

Closing run: 28-6

NC State wins 75-69

Virginia Tech - January 24, 2021

NC State trails Virginia Tech 73-59 with 8:17 remaining

Win probability: 2.4%

Closing run: 30-14

NC State wins 89-87

Georgia Tech - March 6, 2021

NC State trails Georgia Tech 53-43 with 8:54 to play

Win probability: 8.8%

Closing run: 23-8

NC State wins 66-61

Louisville - March 7, 2021

NC State trails Louisville 48-40 with 9:07 to play

Win probability: 11.7%

Closing run: 18-8

NC State wins 58-56

Louisville - January 20, 2022

NC State trails Louisville 51-37 with 9:11 to play

Win probability: 2.3%

Closing run: 31-8

NC State wins 68-59

Notre Dame - March 26, 2022

NC State trails Notre Dame 59-51 with 6:23 to play

Win probability: 7.3%

Closing run: 15-4

NC State wins 66-63

Syracuse - January 1, 2023

NC State trails Syracuse 49-40 with 9:29 to play

Win probability: 13.6%

Closing run: 16-5

NC State wins 56-54

UNC - February 16, 2023

NC State trails crap factory 55-45 with 4:15 to play

Win probability: 1.1%

Closing 4th quarter run: 17-7

Closing winning run: 32-11

NC State wins 77-66 in OT

This is a true stat. In games where State’s win probability dipped below 15% at any point in the fourth quarter, Moore’s team has a record of 8-14 over the last three seasons. State is 5-10 over the last three years in games where it’s trailed by double digits in the fourth quarter. State wins one out of three games where it trails by 10+ in the fourth quarter. That’s nuts. Over the two seasons prior to this one, that record was actually 4-4, an even .500!

Thursday’s win may have been the most impressive, given that that team was sunk. State wasn’t playing measurably worse than it had all season. It was pretty much a par for the course shooting performance over the last month or so, but State was not going to lose at home to UNC. State scored 45 points in the game’s first 35:45 and 32 points in the final 9:15.

I’m not sure what drives this. Certainly, being mentally tough is a prerequisite, but it’s far from the only thing. Whatever it is, State is good at it, and it’s made a living doing it given that three of the above games occurred in the postseason. State outscored Louisville 18-8 and Notre Dame 15-4 down the stretch for comeback wins in the ACC Championship and the Sweet Sixteen, respectively. These teams certainly can turn things around in a hurry, and here’s hoping Thursday’s win is the beginning of this season following that same arc.