We've seen some interesting things in the last few weeks since we talked. State played Virginia, @Louisville, Virginia Tech, @UNC, and @BC.
In typical Wolfpack fashion, they beat Louisville and UNC on the road. Then turned around and lost by quite a significant amount to Boston College.
Before the team took on BC, most folks had them as a lock for the tournament. Annnnd because this team can't leave well enough alone, they find themselves back in bubble territory according to some folks. I don't really have any deep thoughts on the last few weeks that are family friendly, so I'll choose to move along.
State heads to Clemson Tuesday night and then closes the season with Syracuse at home. The margin for error, as usual, is so incredibly thin and with Clemson having been a terrible place for State the last few years, I fear we're staring at having to beat Syracuse to secure a bid. So I have a few questions:
1. Why do I still pull for this team?
2. What does State have to do to beat Clemson?
3. LOL they have to try and win against Syracuse's zone?
Yeah there's just no analysis that justifies the last week in any way. State played its best defensive game of the year by a mile, considering the opponent. A few days later it went to Chestnut Hill and played its worst defensive game of the year considering opponent.
This makes State officially the most schizophrenic team in the league and hell for someone like me who wants a little predictability in their sports lives. The Pack has three top 20 KenPom wins in ACC play, two of them on the road and also has two sub-100 KenPom losses in ACC play both on the road to go along with a home loss to 83rd ranked Clemson. In those three losses the Pack got throttled - managing to make two of them competitive was nice but the team had a 20+ point deficit to all of them at one point.
I'm going to answer your questions in order
1. A sense of loyalty and a healthy self loathing, I assume.
2. Well, of course, because Clemson isn't good. Now which team shows up on Tuesday - literally no one on the planet knows. I could talk about match-ups here, or how all you need to do is play half a semblance of defense and watch Clemson beat itself with its own atrocious attempts at scoring, but really its just wasted words. Maybe State shows up, gives a crap on both ends of the court and beats an inferior opponent in a tough environment. Maybe the BC version shows up and Clemson ball boys are wiping the blood off the court from NC State hemorrhaging its NCAA hopes. Flip a coin, man.
3. It's at home, and Syracuse is a two man team with some very questionable depth and equally questionable point guard play. Also State has multiple outside shooting threats for the first time since what - Gottfried's first season I guess? I actually sort of think they match up well with this Syracuse team which doesn't turn opponents over or defend the rim at the same level as prior Cuse teams.
Oh, good. I feel loads better now.
The effort, though, man. The effort. I don't understand that. I mean, I get that these are college kids and there were (several) days in college where I was less than motivated, but good grief. Is this a coaching thing? I think you and I agree that Gottfried is a capable coach, so I'm not saying that, but how do you get guys to buy in? His last few years he's managed to get them going in the right direction. I feel like this past weekend should provide plenty of motivation. State's earlier loss to Clemson involved one of the worst offensive halves of basketball they played all year. I don't think we'll see that again.
But if I read you right, you're saying State will lose to Clemson and beat Syracuse at home? That's very NC State-ish.
Yeah, that sounds about right. I'd love to predict a full week sweep but the last time State went a full week and won every game on the schedule was November (I'm not counting the one game weeks here). So, inconsistency thy name is Wolfpack.
I suppose gifs are in order.
and then Syracuse:
Well, I wish I shared your optimism.
Just when you think they've found a way to get out of their mess, they lose three straight to close the season: