The 2024 NC State Baseball schedule is now out. Have a look:
The ACC slate will obviously be grueling, as usual. NC State’s 2024 ACC foes averaged an RPI ranking of 32.3 last year. A finishing kick of a pair of 2023 College World Series participants, Wake Forest and Virginia, will be brutal.
The non-conference portion of the schedule again leaves something to be desired. The midweek games against East Carolina, Coastal Carolina, Campbell, UNCW, and UNCG are great (all except UNCG were Top 50 RPI teams a year ago), but those only make up eight of State’s 23 non-conference games. Playing weekend series against VCU, Hawaii, Towson, and Ball State aren’t going to cut it. Those four weekend opponents had an average RPI of 157.3 last year, with Hawaii’s 2023 ranking of 76 and Ball State’s 101 pulling the weight for VCU’s 221 and Towson’s 231.
Hawaii is on an upswing under head coach Rich Hill - and you can’t fault the Pack for choosing to take that trip in February. Ball State has been a solid program under Rich Maloney and is a much better opponent for that late season non-conference weekend series than The Citadel or Radford teams we’ve seen in the past few years. It still would have been nice to see State go after a more local team with higher postseason expectations (see: the list of in-state midweek opponents mentioned above). Given what NC State is facing from the time ACC play starts until the end of the year, scheduling Ball State there is pretty solid.
Looking at the schedule before ACC play, Towson is a horrible program that has been mired in mediocrity for a while now. Only once over the last nine seasons have the Tigers finished in the Top 200 (out of 305 teams, mind you) in RPI, and that season was the shortened 2020 campaign. VCU fell off a cliff last year after Shawn Stiffler left to take the Notre Dame job. The Rams are a bounce-back candidate, but likely won’t have the pitching to get back to a Regional.
There is a next to 0% chance that game against Norfolk State gets played on May 7th, so they might as well have not even scheduled it.
NC State should be a much improved team in 2024 led by an experienced core group, including what should be one of the ACC’s best pitching staffs, and supplemented with some key transfer and freshman additions. If the defense can improve and the pitching staff actually develops and uses the depth it has on the roster - and, as always, assuming the injury bug can be avoided - this will be a Wolfpack team that should easily make another Regional appearance with the potential for much more.
Quick gut prediction: 36-17 (17-13 ACC)