NC State's baseball team returns a lot of talent from the 2015 group that nearly knocked off TCU in the regional round of the NCAA tournament. (It actually took a minor miracle for State to lose that regional, but let's not talk about that.) D1Baseball sees the potential for bigger things from the Wolfpack in 2016 and has the Pack 10th in its preseason poll.
Only two ACC teams are ranked higher: Louisville (2) and Miami (6). Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida State also cracked the top 25.
After a disappointing final go-'round with the Rodon/Turner/Austin core in 2014, NC State bounced back last season with more offense and quality performances from some of its young pitchers. The primary source of optimism in 2016 has to do with those pitchers, as State returns almost every single one of its impact arms.
The rotation has the chance to be outstanding, just as it was toward the end of last season. Brian Brown (2.03 ERA in '15) figures to be the Friday starter, with Cory Wilder (3.50) and Johnny Piedmonte (3.26) handling Saturday and Sunday. State also has a half dozen additional arms it can bring out of the pen or perhaps work into the rotation, depending on the circumstances.
There are questions within the lineup and in the field, since State has to replace Logan Ratledge (.329/.431/.558) and Jake Fincher (.291/.370/.407), both of whom were above-average hitters playing premium defensive positions (SS/2B and CF, respectively).
But the offense should hold up fine around Preston Palmeiro (.305/.381/.456) and Andrew Knizner (.317/.360/.426), who will be the anchors in the middle of the lineup. If promising sophomore third baseman Joe Dunand (.219/.289/.381) begins to realize his full potential, then all the better.