NC State already has a breakthrough of sorts—it is in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time in more than a decade—but this is a team good enough to get to the really good stuff, and those are the games that lie beyond Friday night’s matchup against top-seeded Mississippi State.
Getting this far is an accomplishment for the Wolfpack, no doubt, especially after losing so much experience off of last year’s team. But somehow this also ended up being Wes Moore’s best NC State team, and it has an opportunity now to create its own history.
NC State has been to the Elite Eight before; it has been to the Final Four before (once); it has been to the second weekend plenty of times. But this is new territory for this team specifically and for the program more generally, because success has been a more painful, incremental process in the last 15 years.
It’s been a decade since NC State got this far in the tournament, it’s been two since State made its lone Final Four appearance. State has a fine tradition and these are fine accomplishments, but they are old, and the age shows; much like with the men’s program, the challenge in recruiting is often talking your way past the dust and selling how you, yes you, future college basketball player, might establish a new-yet-familiar frontier.
The first step toward that for Wes Moore is Friday night.