NC State’s early-season foray into the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament comes at a bad time in a lot of respects—it’s early in the season, State has a new coach, and also there are several really good teams involved that don’t need a grace period to start playing well.
Here’s a look at how each team in the field finished last season in the Pomeroy Ratings:
Villanova (No. 2)
SMU (No. 11)
Arizona (No. 18)
Purdue (No. 19)
Tennessee (No. 57)
NC State (No. 109)
Northern Iowa (No. 169)
Western Kentucky (No. 232)
UNI and Western Kentucky are trending up, while both Villanova and Arizona will be good enough for deep NCAA tournament runs again. Fun times!
There’s no other way to frame this competition for NC State beyond the very trite “learning experience.” Hope for the best, but assume no significant breakthroughs, especially not at such an early spot in Kevin Keatts’ Wolfpack career.
There are a handful of teams in this field that should/could end up in the NCAAs, and NC State is not among them. If we’d had it over again, I’m sure we would not be in this field—but this is what can happen when you schedule events like this years in advance.
I’m not here to blame Mark Gottfried for doing that since his willingness to accept some non-conference challenges made the difference between the NCAA and the NIT more than once. Calculated aggressive non-conference scheduling is a good thing, and the sport is usually better off for it.
In this case NC State definitely is not better off for it. Oh well. You can’t bend things to your advantage all the time; odds will catch up to you at some point. Scheduling in a balanced way that will help you in March comes with some amount of gambling, and you won’t always hit. I guess it’s appropriate that this tournament is played in a casino.