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As its non-conference slate winds down, NC State is well-positioned for return to NCAA tournament

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We could skip the drama this year if everybody’s cool with it.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 04 Wisconsin at NC State Photo by Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Is it too early for bracketology? Of course it’s too early for bracketology! But it is probably useful for ballparking where NC State fits in the NCAA tournament picture with the non-conference portion of the schedule wrapping up.

Joe Lunardi’s update this week has NC State as one of the last four teams out of the tournament. Lunardi has five ACC teams in the field at this point, with four of them earning a four seed or better. Plenty of time yet for the Wolfpack to deliver some resume-defining wins the rest of the way.

Starting before we even get back to conference play—Lunardi currently projects Auburn as a three-seed in the NCAAs. That’ll probably end up being generous but the Tigers are going to be one of the SEC’s best all year, which is to say that State has a huge opportunity on Thursday night. A win there is substantial currency in March, whether State is on the bubble or playing for seeding.

That game doesn’t come with any consequences for a loss, and anyway NC State is on pretty good footing for this point in the year. Being at No. 50 in the NET and on the fringe of the NCAA field in Lunardi’s estimation goes to show you, for example, that strength of schedule isn’t going to be one of those major demerits requiring like 13-14 league wins for balancing.

Although I still think State should win 13-14 ACC games just for the heck of it.