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Wake Forest 77, NC State 74: Wolfpack drops third straight to open ACC play

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Well, everybody, it's happening; the worst-case scenario is undeniably well underway at this point. There appears no end to the pattern that NC State's established this season, which is occasional great play, some decent stretches, but games defined by the Wolfpack's limitations. This team fights, and it can handle some adversity, but its margin for error is slim since it simply cannot shoot the basketball well for more than a handful of minutes at a time.

You know, I thought that I'd come to terms with this group's limitations before league play started, and maybe I did. I mean I understand intellectually that there are a lot of things this team can't do because it is shorthanded and has had to reshuffle what remains of the deck at its disposal. I get that. Then the games start and I realize that, emotionally, I can't treat every game as some program-building "teachable moment," or whatever else you might want to call it.

I've been spoiled by the last four seasons, and I can't knock myself out of the mindset that came with all of them to this point. We felt--I felt--pretty bad about the Pack at points in every single on of the last four seasons, and State managed to get its stuff together in each case, sometimes making the NCAAs by a super narrow margin. (Hey, that's the fun part.)

It's tough to recognize that things are a lot different this time around--there are no major adjustments that State can make, and the schedule is unrelenting. The ACC is deeper than it's been in a while. As usual, our timing is bad. So it goes, huh.

This season may end up paying off next year, but it's most likely going to end badly. I can repeat that as many times as I want and process it in a certain sense, but then the next game is on TV and I'm still emotionally invested, and this is all wrong.

In conclusion, I will see you all next game! We might not win, and I'll probably end up bummed about it if we don't, but we might win, and I'll watch in any case. I cannot divorce the cares, and for this I probably need help. This stupid sport, I swear.