Let the people rejoice – State beat the castrated turkeys once again, to get back to .500 in the ACC. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the second half of the conference schedule is even more difficult. NC State will likely only be favored in one game (home vs. FSU). But all is not lost – State may not be the favorite, but can legitimately expect to compete well in 5 other matchups. We break the games down into categories below, with percentage likelihood of victory in parentheses.
Home games against inferior opponents (1)
vs. Florida State (80%)
The Pack played really well (and the Noles really poorly) for 5 minutes at the end of the first half in Tallahassee. Thanks to a banked 3 from Fells and huge plays on both ends of the floor from Hickson in the last minute of play, that was enough. FSU is in the midst of watching another season go down the drain in ACC play, with the NIT looming on the horizon. This is a game that NC State must win, and should do so absent a severe mental letdown.
Road games against inferior opponents (3)
at Boston College (50%), at Virginia (50%), at Wake Forest (50%)
Getting 2 out of 3 here would be huge, and probably necessary. Let me clarify what I mean by inferior – on a neutral court, I would expect NC State to be favored against all 3. Of course, if we play poorly (like we did in the home matchup against Wake), all bets are off. But I like our roster better than each opponent’s, and there are no bad matchups for us (no great outside shooting or multiple, dynamic guards). If Fells can shut down or at least suppress Rice, Singletary, and Teague – then State is better at the other positions. I also expect momentum and motive to work in NC State’s favor – Boston College is in freefall, and Virginia is showing signs of weariness (due to their coach being a raving lunatic in the mold of his asshole mentor, Jim Calhoun). These two also have a somewhat lackluster home-court advantage. BC is worse than their record indicates, and UVA is better (3 of their ACC losses have come in overtime). Wake is more of a wild card, but if everything breaks right, NC State could enter the game at 7-8 and needing a win to punch its dance ticket. I fully expect Wake to be playing for nothing but pride. I also don’t think much of head coach Dino Gaudio.
Very tough matchups, but not hopeless (2)
at Maryland (25%), vs. Clemson (35%)
The upcoming titlt in College Park is just one of those games I have a feeling about. Maryland is notorious for playing to the level of their competition. They do have multiple, good PGs – but neither is an explosive scorer. They don’t shoot well from the outside. The Terp big men are talented – but they also give up alot of fouls. That’s the weak point we can exploit, as long as we aren’t dominated on the glass and don’t go crazy with turnovers. It will be a fun matchup, if for no other reason than Osby. Like Fletch, he’s 6’9″ with the afro. Clemson is a tough matchup for us, with good perimeter shooting, solid rebounding, and smothering defense. They made us look silly in Littlejohn. However, the Tiggers are a different team on the road, and have really struggled of late. The crowd will be up for this one, and I can’t write off a possible upset.
Divine intervention needed (2)
vs. UNC (2%), vs. Duke (1%)
These are nightmare matchups for the Pack, both offensively and defensively. Regardless of location, the two blues would beat the Pack 99 times out of 100. As Duke showed last week, it is capable of undoing 20 minutes of yeoman’s work by the Pack in about 3:20. I listed our odds at 2% for the UNC game, because there is a remote chance that Lawson won’t play, or will be severely limited.
Add up the percentages, and the median number of expected wins over the last 8 ACC games is 2.93. 7-9 is the most likely mathematical result, with 6 wins being slightly more likely than 8. I would be really surprised to see 5-11 or 9-7.