NC State probably can’t afford to lose its ACC tournament opener against the likes of Pittsburgh or Wake Forest if it wants a reasonable shot at an at-large bid, and a second win might lock up a spot, since that would come against Duke.
How likely is that to happen? Well, not terribly likely, as Ken Pomeroy’s log5 analysis of the field illustrates:
NC State has about a 64% chance of winning its first game, though winning two straight is far less probable since the Wolfpack will have to go through the ACC’s best team in order to do it. But there’s no reason to think State can’t give Duke a game on Thursday if the Pack gets that far.
With the lack of top-end wins to be found among just about every other team on the bubble, a second victory over Duke would go a long way for NC State, so that’s the goal for starters. After beating the Blue Devils, the Pack could just go ahead and win the whole thing if it feels like it.