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NC State basketball: The quest to avoid a losing season

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

With five games remaining in the regular season, NC State has its work cut out for it to avoid a losing season. Losing season overall, that is--a losing season in conference play was assured by the loss at Virginia Monday night. At 13-13, State needs a 3-2 finish to the year to guarantee at least a .500 overall record.

That's not impossible, but it ain't gonna be easy. Four of the Wolfpack's remaining opponents are ranked higher in the Pomeroy Ratings; there's a game against UNC; there are two road trips to NCAA tournament-caliber foes.

Let's go to the numbers to see how our chances are lookin' the rest of the way:

Opponent Opponent's Pomeroy Rank Pack's Win Probability Projected Score
Clemson 50 59% NCSU 69-67
UNC 8 32% UNC 81-76

at Syracuse

31 22% Cuse 72-64
Boston College 246 92% NCSU 73-59
at Notre Dame 25 19% UND 83-73

(All data from

NC State is heavily favored in one game, another is basically a coin flip, and State is a heavy underdog in the other three. Fun*** fact! The chance of an undefeated finish to the season, based on those win probabilities, is 0.7%. It's practically a certainty!

(***Fun-ness of fact debatable.)

If State's gonna get three of these last five, the Pack almost certainly has to beat Clemson and Boston College. If they drop one of those contests and need two of the other three, well, that's going to be a wee bit of a challenge.

A 2-3 finish is probably the most likely outcome, and while it would mean a losing regular season, hope would not be lost, friends! A couple of wins in the ACC tourney would guarantee a .500 season in that case, and State's first game (probably on--ugh--tournament Tuesday) is going to be very winnable.

So all is not lost. I mean, when it comes to this one very unambitious goal.