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NC State needs at least two wins this week, starting with the bubble elimination game against Syracuse

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NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

It’s taken a late run just for NC State to get back on the periphery of the NCAA tournament bubble discussion, but the Wolfpack has an opportunity this week to make itself into a more serious contender for tournament inclusion.

That starts, obviously, with Syracuse in what amounts to an elimination game. The Orange are by all accounts higher in the bubble pecking order than State, but also probably not in the field at this point. By beating Syracuse, NC State can get the Orange out of the picture and give itself a chance to move into the field with another win or two or three.

The starting point for any sort of at-large discussion is two wins. Two wins and NC State starts to have a compelling argument. Here, for example, is a theoretical look at the bubble if State goes 2-1 (wins vs. Cuse, UVA; loss to GT), using Bart Torvik’s teamcast feature:

NC State enters the week as the seventh team out, in Teamcast’s estimation, so going 2-1 moves State up 10 spots in the pecking order, though this still leaves plenty to chance—and of course this is by no means implying that the selection committee will see it the same way.

Taking it one step farther—a 3-1 tourney run (wins over Cuse, UVA, GT; loss to FSU in title game)—and we get here:

That’d be two wins against teams in the field, plus a loss that looks fine on paper. Maybe we could breathe easy at that point, but Selection Sunday would still be stressful.

It’s gonna take a run this week, and while it’ll be far from easy, at least it feels doable. That’s a big improvement from three weeks ago. when the team was all but buried.