Now that NC State is through being given the what-for by a ridiculously talented Duke team, we can look ahead to a manageable finish to the regular season, and hopefully at least four wins to go with it.
The Wolfpack closes things out with a pair of games against Boston College, home games against Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, and a road trip to Florida State. The Pack will rightfully be the underdog in Tallahassee but no doubt will be favored in the other four games. Simply handling business at home will ensure that NC State finishes no worse than .500 in league play, which might be good enough to firm up an at-large NCAA bid despite a rather underwhelming list of accomplishments.
BC, Wake, and GT are three worst teams in the league—the only three ACC teams below 100 in the Pomeroy Ratings, actually. (Not that this mattered for that road trip to Wake. Ahem.) The Ratings like State by at least 11 against each of those teams in Raleigh. If those projections prove accurate, we shouldn’t be stressing too much in those contests.
Assuming State doesn’t get a win at FSU, there’s some added pressure on the final road trip (and game) of the regular season, which is at Boston College. The manageable nature of the schedule is double-edged, after all: a loss to any of these bottom-dwellers would be extremely unhelpful.
The Pack also wants to solidify a spot in the top nine of the standings, since that means getting a bye past the first day of the ACC tournament. It is highly unlikely at this point that State would finish outside the top nine—BC is actually the only team in the bottom six that hasn’t been mathematically eliminated from a top-nine finish, and the Eagles already have eight losses anyhow. That should take care of itself.
But the higher up in the standings, the better, for the sake of appearances, especially given the other power-conference schools on the bubble. Several of them are certainly going to finish with losing league records.
Without the Duke game having been factored in most of the brackets collected by Bracket Matrix, NC State is averaging out to around a 10-seed in the various predictions. That’s not an alarming place to be, but it ain’t exactly secure, either. So let’s go ahead and finish 4-1 and give ourselves some breathing room, okay, team?