The Weather Moose:
I can't really stomach looking back at the last two games. I can't make heads or tails of the Clemson loss and then needing a buzzer-beating shot in overtime to beat Georgia Tech?
I know this may sound surprising, but this season feels like it's game over after last week. And now they had to Wake Forest. Winston Salem isn't exactly the most friendly place for State, so I'm not feeling particularly great. And then you welcome Virginia? Might as well throw another couple losses on the board.
Do we have anything to look forward to?
Well, yeah, I dunno.
I said after the Clemson loss/debacle that the NCAA tournament shouldn't be the focus because that team isn't making the tournament. They have to get better first. And then, really, by all rights they should have lost the Georgia Tech game only to be pulled out of the fire by Trevor Lacey's heroics. I think none other than Julius Hodge himself called that shot a season saver, and while I'm not sure I'd go that far its certainly got the Pack off life support for a bit.
This team, as its played over the last two weeks, has no shot at the NCAAs. They are simply juggling fire in a shallow pool of gasoline - constantly playing well for 10-15 minute stretches only to just go in the tank offensively and simultaneously lose interest in the defensive side of the ball and NOW I'M YELLING THANKS NC STATE. But there are all these flashes of a legitimately good basketball team in there that I can't just write them off entirely yet.
Of course any hope is predicated on winning at Wake Forest, as the resume just isn't good enough to sustain a sub-100 RPI loss and Wake is definitely going to end up in the sub -100 range. Wake still shaken off a lot of the Bzdelik in the last month or so - while they haven't won an ACC game on the road yet they've been competitive in losses Syracuse (OT), Clemson (2-point loss) and Florida State (2OT). They continue to be a much better team at home though, and unfortunately we can't play them twice in Raleigh.
The Pack has, believe it or not, now lost two straight years in Winston-Salem. So that would be a nice streak to break. They aren't very good at shooting, or guarding the interior but they've gotten slightly better at hanging onto the ball recently. When they play well they seem to consistently get to the FT line and also get good performances from Devin Thomas. Thomas struggled in Raleigh, and I have no idea if that was good defense or just him being bad, but the place to start defensively is with him. Offensively I think the Pack has to be more patient, take less jumpers early in the shot clock and hopefully maintain some consistently for 40 minutes instead of these drastic swoons one way or the other.
With just one game this week, that's all I've got, so I'll go ahead and make a pick to keep this short and sweet. I predict sadness.
So what you're telling me is that NC State has actually won at Wake Forest in the last decade? That's a positive. I could've sworn they've gone winless there since I've been alive. Vegas tells me this is a pick 'em while the scacchoops.com game sim is telling me State by 7-8.
And even though I think this will be a tough game, Wake Forest is considerably worse on defense than either Clemson or Georgia Tech. And I think because of that, State will have an easier time getting the looks they want. Whether or not they make them is a different story all together.
And I'm picking victory here because, dammit, there's nothing left to look forward to if they lose to a really bad Wake team.
In keeping with your Super Bowl theme...