NC STATE BASKETBALL
R. Cory Smith (N&O)
No. 8 seed NC State hopes experience helps against Temple in Dayton
But despite the woes throughout the season, State finished with a 24-win season and returned to the NCAA tournament. With Gottfried reaching the tournament this season, he becomes just the third ACC coach to do so in their first two seasons, joining former North Carolina coach Bill Guthridge and current Tar Heels coach Roy Williams.
While Gottfried deserves most of the credit for turning the Pack around, he bestowed the praise unto his players.
“You always want to be a higher seed, I don’t care who you are,” Gottfried said of his team’s draw. “It is what it is, this is where we are. I’m proud of our guys and I’m proud of the fact that we’re sitting here with 24 wins prior to the NCAA tournament.
“That’s 48 wins in two years and back-to-back NCAA tournaments. These guys have done a phenomenal job of building our program.”
The Owls are a team that, much like N.C. State, has some noteworthy victories in the Atlantic-10 Conference and in play outside the conference. Triumphs over Syracuse and St. Louis at home paired with a win at Villanova were part of a resume that earned Temple a nine seed.
Coached by Fran Dunphy, who is in his seventh year with the program after 17 seasons with Penn, the Owls have only missed the NCAA tournament once since he took over. While Dunphy has never had an issue making it to the tournament – as he has done so in 16 of his 24 seasons – his teams have only advanced past the first round twice.
Despite Dunphy’s lack of success in the tournament and a possible showdown with No. 1 seed Indiana looming, Gottfried said there will be no overlooking his opponent.
“They’re very well coached; Fran Dunphy does a phenomenal job there,” Gottfried said. “They’ve played in a tremendous league this year … and they have an elite player in Khaliff Wyatt. They’re a team that’s very proven.”
Luke DeCock (N&O)
Wolfpack still a good bet in Vegas
Vegas still believes in N.C. State. The Wolfpack was installed as a 60-1 shot to win the NCAA tournament by bookmakers at the LVH, what used to be known as the Las Vegas Hilton.
That puts the Wolfpack ahead of a whole mess of No. 4, 5 and 6 seeds, just behind North Carolina at 50-1, the 20th choice overall.
Clearly, Las Vegas bettors see something in the eighth-seeded Wolfpack that the NCAA tournament committee does not.
“As far as Las Vegas is concerned, we don’t really look at the seeds,” LVH sportsbook director Jay Kornegay said Monday. “We look at the road they would have to travel to get to Final Four. If that’s based on seeding, so be it.”
In this case, it’s an acknowledgement that N.C. State has enough talent to win the NCAA tournament, more talent than many teams with better seeds, and that while it isn’t likely, it’s not something gamblers are prepared to dismiss, either.
The Wolfpack is 20-1 to win the East Regional, making it the de facto fifth seed as far as Vegas is concerned.
“When you start looking at teams in the second tier – Michigan State, Georgetown, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Syracuse, I’d throw New Mexico in there, St. Louis – you can put them all in the same group,” Kornegay said.
“It’s pretty much a grab bag. The third tier is the same way. I would throw the Wolfpack in that third-tier group with Pittsburgh, Arizona, North Carolina, Virginia Commonwealth and Kansas State. Marquette’s probably right there as well.”
“Future odds in the NCAA tournament are about being able to win six games,” said gambling analyst R.J. Bell of pregame.com, “More important than consistency is raw talent and the ability to get hot and beat the best teams in the country.”
The Associated Press
N.C. State NCAA tournament preview
THE FIRST OPPONENT
N.C. State’s first challenge will be slowing down Temple’s Khalif Wyatt, the Atlantic 10′s player of the year. Wyatt, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, averaged 19.8 points per game. The Owls (21-11) also feature senior swingman Scootie Randall, who averages 11.8 points. Temple closed the regular season by winning seven straight games, including one over Virginia Commonwealth in the season finale. But Massachusetts knocked the Owls out in their A10 tournament opener. First steps in the NCAA tournament are also tricky for the Owls as they’ve won their opener once in their past five trips to the NCAA tournament.
THE POTENTIAL PITFALL
If the Wolfpack can get past Temple, Indiana poses the biggest hurdle by far. The Hoosiers dropped two of their final four regular-season games and bowed out of the Big Ten tournament with a semifinal loss to Wisconsin. But sophomore forward Cody Zeller and junior guard Victor Oladipo are among the most dangerous players in the country, helping put Tom Crean’s Hoosiers on the short list of NCAA tournament favorites. N.C. State did face Indiana last season, with the Hoosiers taking an 86-75 win in Raleigh.
NC State will play Temple in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. The at-large bid marks the second consecutive for Mark Gottfried’s team, which advanced to the Sweet 16 a year ago. It is NC State’s 24th trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Gametime has been announced as 1:40 p.m., on TBS.
Gottfried is now the first coach in NC State’s storied basketball history, and only the third in the 60-year history of the ACC for all schools, to take his first two teams to the “Big Dance.” This year’s squad has already recorded a 24-10 record, its highest win total in 30 years.
“I’m obviously very excited for our team,” said Gottfried. “It’s a great accomplishment to be back in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back years.
“I think Temple is very good. When you have wins over Syracuse and Villanova in their non-conference schedule and play the way they have in their own conference, that gets your attention real quick. Khalif Wyatt is one of the elite players in America and I have a lot of respect for Fran Dunphy, who is one of the most respected coaches in the country.”
The NCAA Tournament selection extends a season of accomplishments for the Wolfpack that includes the following:
• NC State has tied its highest win total for a single season in the past 30 years. The last Wolfpack squad to post more victories than the 2012-13 squad’s total of 24 was the 1983 National Championship squad, which posted a 26-10 mark.
• Mark Gottfried is the first coach in NC State history, and only the third coach in ACC history, to take each of his first two squads to the NCAA Tournament.
• Mark Gottfried has now won more games in his first two seasons with the Pack (48) than any coach in school history with the exception of Everett Case(55) in 1947 and 1948.
• NC State checks in at No. 32 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), and No. 39 in strength of schedule. NC State is 22nd in the Basketball Power Index (BPI), and has the No. 20 schedule in that rating.
• The Pack leads the ACC and ranks fourth nationally in field goal percentage (.494). Gottfried’s squad led the nation in that category for several weeks this season and its current mark would rank sixth in school history as of today.
Jacey Zembal (TheWolfpacker.com)
NC State excited about next challenge
“I believe we can play with anybody or beat anybody,” Gottfried said. “I’m sure Temple is a very confident team too. When you reach this point of the year, you aren’t going to find a bad basketball team.”
The Owls won nine out of their last 11 games to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Temple went 5-3 in games against teams which reached the tourney. The Atlantic 10 featured five teams in the NCAA Tournament – Teample, Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler – and the Owls also played Kansas, Duke, Villanova and Syracuse in non-conference action.
Temple fell 79-74 to UMass on Friday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. UMass, Duke and St. Bonaventure are three common opponents between Temple and NC State, with the Owls going 1-3 against them.
Temple finished with four games against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game – highlighted by a 83-79 win over then No. 3-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 22 – and also defeated then No. 21-ranked Virginia Commonwealth 84-76 on March 10 to close out the regular season.
“They beat Syracuse and Villanova in the non-conference and they’ve played in a tremendous league this year,” Gottfried said. “The A-10 with Butler, Saint Louis, VCU, a lot of really good teams in that league.”
What Temple does do is score the basketball at a decent rate. They are the 56th best team in terms of PPG and 42nd in assist per game. They also have the Atlantic 10s top scorer (and conference POY) Khalif Wyatt. We’ll get more into Wyatt in a detailed article coming this week, but what we will tell you is that he averaged 19.8 PPG. This guy is a volume scorer who takes a lot of shots, but doesn’t shoot a great percentage. He shoots 41% from the field and 33% from 3 point range. He’s pretty physical, standing at 6’3, 215lbs , but he’s not all that quick. Guards like this have not done all that well against the Wolfpack in the past two years, mostly in part because Lorenzo Brown likes to guard bigger guards as he usually matches up with size, but holds a quickness advantage on them.
The other player to watch for Temple is Scootie Randall. This is a guy who has struggle for most of the season, but is coming on strong as of late. He’s 6’6, 225lbs and averaged 11 PPG, but lately he’s hit 18, 15, 14, 13 and 12 in his last five games.
Inside NC State will have a big advantage. Temple isn’t very big or strong on the front line. Their best big is 6’9 Anthony Lee. The sophomore big is averaging 10 points and 7 boards per game. He’s physical inside, but he’s going to be giving up 35 pounds to Howell. He’s not really a polished post player either, so if he’s thinking he’s going to play a power game inside, he might want to think twice. He is shooting a very respectable 54%, but only hits about 65% from the line.
The Cherry and White (23-9) are under the direction of seventh-year head coach Fran Dunphy, who is making his 15th NCAA Tournament trip (6 at Temple). The Owls, led by senior and A-10 Player of the Year Khalif Wyatt, enter the tournament winners of 10 out of their last 12 contests.
Wyatt, the A-10 Player of the Year, leads the A-10 in scoring with a 19.8 average while ranking seventh in the conference in assists (4.1 apg.). Wyatt also ranks ninth in the A-10 in steals (1.6 spg) and seventh in free-throw percentage (.832).
Wyatt is one of five players in their final season of eligibility on a veteran Owl team. Seniors Scootie Randall (11.8 ppg., 6.1 rpg.) and Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson (8.9ppg., 6.2 rpg., 3.5 apg., 1.8 spg.) are staples in the Cherry and White starting five while graduate students Jake O’Brien (9.3 ppg., .429 three-point percentage) and T.J. DiLeo (3.0 ppg., 1.9 rpg.) are the top reserves.
Sophomores Anthony Lee (10.0 ppg., 7.0 rpg.) and Will Cummings (6.1 ppg., 1.4 spg.) fill out the starting rotation.
Scott Fowler (N&O)
Pam Valvano Strasser embraces March Madness, past and present
Every March, it starts again.
Pam Valvano Strasser’s life blurs at the edges. The past feels like the present, and the present feels like the past, and there is Jim Valvano from 30 years ago, running deliriously on a court in New Mexico, and there he is again from 20 years ago, so sick he can’t navigate six stairs up to the stage without help but telling a rapt audience at the ESPYs to never give up.
“It’s very hard for me to know who I am at times,” says Valvano Strasser, who was married to Jim Valvano for 25 years and then a widow for 10 more years before she married John Strasser in 2003. “I want to be this new person, but the old life just doesn’t end. I’m very proud of what Jim did – as proud as I can be. But I also have moved on.”
Valvano Strasser has lived in the Raleigh area for 32 years. She is 67 now – the same age Valvano would be if he had not died of cancer in 1993. And she navigates these two worlds – the present and the past – as well as she possibly can.
She participated in the two-hour documentary called “Survive and Advance” on the 1983 N.C. State basketball team that won the national championship – it airs Sunday night at 9 on ESPN. She visits Jim Valvano’s grave on his birthday and the anniversary of his death. She is active in “The V Foundation,” which she says has now raised more than $125 million for cancer research.
She still loves the N.C. State basketball program. She traveled with the team in December to watch them beat Connecticut in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York, and she leaves coach Mark Gottfried a good-luck voicemail before most games.
“Mark has been so wonderful to us,” she says, speaking of her family, which includes her three daughters and five grandchildren. “And he’s really brought new life to the program. Now I’m acting like a coach’s wife again. I’m talking to the TV, I’m screaming, I’m superstitious. Mark could have said, ‘You are history. We don’t want to compete with you.’ Instead, he has embraced us.”
She has also moved almost all of her basketball-related memorabilia out of her house in Cary. She thought this would be more respectful to her second husband, John Strasser, a longtime veterinarian in the Raleigh area who knew Jim Valvano before the coach died.
“At one point, I had an office in the house with all Jim’s stuff – pictures from floor to ceiling,” she says. “When John and I started dating, though, I thought that maybe it was not really nice for him to come to this mausoleum. So I gave the pictures to the (Jimmy V celebrity) golf tournament and to the V Foundation.”
But the reminders come anyway. They are everywhere if you watch TV – and since Pam Valvano Strasser is still a big-time college basketball fan, she does. Every March, the past tugs on her sleeve, insisting that it is time to tell the story once more.
Gottfried: It’s the greatest show on Earth
Forget Barnum and Bailey, North Carolina State head coach Mark Gottfried calls the NCAA Tournament the “greatest show on Earth,” which his Wolfpack is extremely happy to be a part of.
Wood: I don’t know a lot about them
North Carolina State’s Scott Wood admits to not knowing a great deal about the Pack’s first round draw in Temple, but is ready to study all things Owls, these next few days.
Howell: We know what’s at stake
North Carolina State forward Richard Howell says his team is fully aware that this is the last chance to make a statement.
REACTION: Howell, Wood Talk NCAAs
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say they know that I’m a pretty good shooter. It’s one of those things we’re you’ve got to go out and execute your stuff. Everybody knows what you run, they watch film on you. You just have to cut hard and set screens.”
“As far as the draw’s concerned I’m fine with it. I think there’s obviously some games that I think we could’ve won that could’ve improved our seed. At the same time, it is what it is and you’ve got to play ball and the end of the day.”
“I’m extremely happy where me and Rich have left this place. I know it’s going to be in good hands even when we’re gone with coach Gottfried and who he’s bringing in. Hopefully State can still be a powerhouse.”
“It’s a totally different feeling. It’s a good feeling. Just to know that we have a lock in the tournament and seed is a good feeling. But, figuring out where you’re going to play is a whole different story. We were predicted in California and all of this other stuff. But we’re happy and we’re just anxious to tell.”
“It’s a lot, just to experience us going to the Sweet 16 I think that gave a lot of people the chance to get inside of that environment. The big arenas, I won’t think that’ll affect us much. I think that last year definitely gives us a lot more experience.”
“We just want to win the ball games. We’re going to take it one step at a time. I don’t want to sit here and say ‘oh we’ve got to make it to the Sweet 16’ for our team to be a great season. We don’t feel like we’ve had the best season but we feel like we can capitalize on it with the games that we’ve had. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Andrew Carter (N&O)
As ACC fouls drop, the pounding players take rises
There might be more bruises in college basketball nowadays – more hand-checks on the perimeter, contact in the post, more obstacles for cutters trying to move along their intended path.
In the ACC, though, fouls – at least ones that are called – have decreased in recent years, this season reaching their lowest point this century.
During the past nine years, about seven fouls on average – 3.5 per team – have gone missing from ACC games.
The fewer fouls that are called, the more physical the game seems to become. Coaches like North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Miami’s Jim Larranaga have bemoaned college basketball’s increased physicality. Some believe it’s hurting the game.
Asked how officiating has changed, Larranaga put it like this:
“I think referees should call fouls when they’re fouls. The game hasn’t changed, the rules haven’t changed. It’s just the way the game is viewed by the people who are officiating.”
The decrease in fouls amid increased physicality is the most notable conclusion of a News & Observer analysis of ACC foul statistics dating to the 2000-01 season. Using figures available on the website statsheet.com – a subsidiary of the Durham-based company Automated Insights – The N&O searched for trends in ACC foul statistics dating to 2000.
Among the findings:
• Since 2000, North Carolina and Duke have both the largest positive foul differential – the difference between fouls drawn and fouls committed – and largest positive differential between free throws they’ve attempted and those their opponents have attempted.
“There’s a lot more contact that’s allowed now than it was even four, five years ago,” Mark Gottfried, the N.C. State coach, said. “I think the contact around the rim – the offensive player makes an offensive move, and there’s a lot of contact that’s allowed. I think that’s changed a lot. …
“Go put a tape on from 1995 and watch it. You’ll see it. It won’t take you but 10 seconds to see the difference and how much contact is allowed, especially around the basket.”
The decrease in fouls illustrates a shift, as Larranaga said, in how the game is officiated and what constitutes a foul.
In the paint, players fight for position with hands, elbows and shoulders. Contact has become an accepted part of the sport.
There’s less of it on the perimeter, but still a lot more than there used to be – a lot more than Williams, the UNC coach, remembers from earlier in his coaching career. For years, Williams has criticized increased contact in college basketball.
“The game is too physical,” Williams said earlier this season. “And I’ve said that for 15 years. I think you’re able to do more with your hands to stop people from cutting, to stop people from dribbling.”
Joe Giglio (N&O)
NC State, UNC, Duke took winding road to NCAA tournament
Wolfpack: Last opportunity
Coach Mark Gottfried got to the end of his postgame remarks Saturday in the auditorium tucked behind the Greensboro Coliseum. He summed his team’s 81-71 loss to Miami in the semifinals as “one of those days.”
With a disappointed Scott Wood at the table seated next to him and a despondent C.J. Leslie two chairs down, Gottfried didn’t dwell on that loss, or the issues of the regular season; rather, he offered optimism about the NCAA tournament.
“I think we’re an awfully good basketball team,” Gottfried said. “We have a lot of basketball left and we have great basketball in front of us.”
That was Gottfried, who has posted back-to-back 24-win seasons, defending his team. The Wolfpack fell short of the ACC regular-season title, going 11-7 and finishing fifth, and in Greensboro, but there were moments when it was, as Gottfried said, “awfully good.”
Most of those came at home with emotional wins against Duke and North Carolina, both in front ot big ESPN audiences and both the kind of “make room for us in the neighborhood” statements that recent N.C. State teams were unable to make.
Friday’s 75-56 win against Virginia in the ACC tournament was probably the team’s most complete effort of the season. Defensive intensity was a season-long challenge for Gottfried’s talented team, one of the best by any metric on offense.
“There’s no denying their talent or potential,” Greenberg said. “Quite honestly, they haven’t been as focused as you’d like them to be. They have one opportunity to bring it all together.”
After five months, it’s the same opportunity for all three teams.
Luke DeCock (N&O)
NCAA snubbed the ACC
North Carolina was handed not only a surprisingly low No. 8 seed, but set up on a collision course with Kansas – again! again! – in Kansas City, of all places. The Tar Heels appeared to have the resume of a No. 7 seed, but there will be less concern about the seeding than Roy Williams’ comfort level.
It’s hard to argue too much with N.C. State as a No. 8, or Virginia being left out, but the committee certainly didn’t do either any favors.
Maybe you can explain away some of that with the technicalities of seeding, scheduling and bracketing, but not all of it. The message was clear: Whatever the ACC did this season, it wasn’t good enough for the committee.
… The NCAA has often been accused of giving Duke preferential treatment, but the Blue Devils have a legitimate grievance this time around.
So do the Tar Heels. Another potential North Carolina-Kansas matchup may make for great television, but it’s not fair to either team given the history involved – especially the Tar Heels, who would have to play them in Missouri for the second straight year.
It made for a colossal gap in emotions between the conclusion of a dramatic, compelling ACC championship game and the deflation following the unveiling of the brackets a few hours later. What was shaping up to be such a great Sunday for the conference went out the window. A difficult path lies ahead for the ACC.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
ACC gets no love from NCAA tournament committee
“I am somewhat surprised and disappointed that only four ACC teams are in the field and that the league only received two No. 2s and two No. 8 seeds,” Williams said Sunday night. “I think the ACC deserved better than that.”
The biggest loser of the bunch appears to be Williams and his Tar Heels.
Despite a late-season surge that ended with Sunday’s ACC tournament championship game loss to Miami, the Tar Heels were seeded eighth in the NCAA’s South Region. They will play their first round game Friday in Kansas City against ninth-seeded Villanova.
But that’s not what makes the seeding so intriguing.
Should UNC win, it would face an uncomfortable second-round showdown with top-seeded Kansas – the team Williams used to coach before returning to his alma mater a decade ago.
The Jayhawks still hold a warm place in Williams’ sentimental heart, and he’ll undoubtedly wear it on his sleeve if his Tar Heels end up having to play them in again the tournament for the second straight year.
UNC lost to Kansas in the Midwest Region final in St. Louis last March, a game in which the Tar Heels were without starting point guard Kendall Marshall.
Like UNC, N.C. State is also an eighth seed – a fact that will stack the odds against a second straight trip to the Sweet `16.
Coach Mark Gottfried’s enigmatic team will be matched against Temple in a difficult first-round game in Dayton, Ohio, on Friday. With a win, State would then presumably have top-seeded Indiana – a team many think is the favorite to cut down the nets in Atlanta three weeks from now.
Andrew Jones (Fox Sports Carolinas)
ACC gets no respect from selection committee
The NCAA selection committee wasn’t all that impressed by the ACC this season. That was quite obvious with Sunday evening’s unveiling of the 2013 NCAA tournament.
For the first time ever, a team that won both the ACC’s regular season and conference tournament failed to land a No. 1 seed when Miami was given a No. 2 seed. The Hurricanes (27-6) had the No. 4 overall RPI and became the first team to ever beat North Carolina and NC State twice each in the state of North Carolina in the same season.
Including the two games this weekend at the Greensboro Coliseum, the Hurricanes won at UNC and NC State during the regular season. The four games were played in front of more than 80,000 people, but apparently that and routing Duke in one of its victories and owning more true road wins than any team in the nation.
North Carolina (24-10) has some ugly losses to quality teams on its resume, but the No. 8 seed Tar Heels, who are No. 16 in the RPI, also have 24 victories and obviously pass the eye test, which doesn’t matter given many of the committee’s decisions.
Not only does Roy Williams’ team have to play Villanova in their first game, but if they win they likely get top-seed Kansas in Kansas City. The committee says it never looks at what’s written across a team’s chest, but there’s no way on earth the committee didn’t know what it was doing with that possible matchup. And given that Williams used to coach the Jayhawks for 15 years, sending him back into that region just isn’t right.
NC State has the least to complain about. The Wolfpack (24-10) are better on paper than a No. 8 seed although their No. 32 RPI doesn’t suggest that. NC State will take on No. 41 Temple in Dayton, Ohio, and if they win will probably face top-seed Indiana.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
NCAA tournament announces first round starting times
While two of the three ACC teams from North Carolina didn’t get any favors in their matchups from the selection committee Sunday, at least their fans won’t have to stay up late to watch them play Friday.
Duke, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region, will play 15th-seeded Albany at 12:15 p.m. in Philadelphia. The game will be televised on CBS.
N.C. State, the No. 8 seed in the East Region, takes on No. 9 Temple at 2:10 p.m.in Dayton, Ohio, on TBS while North Carolina, the eighth seed in the South Region, tips off against No. 9 Villanova at 7:20 p.m. in Kansas City on TNT.
ACC champion Miami, the No. 2 seed in the East, plays its first game against Pacific at 2:10 p.m. in a game televised by TNT.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
BEYOND THE ARC: A Hurricane hits Greensboro
4. Great Scott: N.C. State’s Scott Wood made 16 of 27 3-point attempts (59.2 percent) in three tournament games. In the process, he broke Rodney Monroe’s career school record of 322 treys. He set the record while going 7 of 12 in the Wolfpack’s quarterfinal victory against Virginia. He added six more in Saturday’s loss to Miami to increase his career total to 332. Thirty-three of those treys came in the ACC tournament, the third most ever behind Duke’s J.J. Redick (41) and Wake Forest’s Randolph Childress (36).
2. Frustrated fans: A group of Wake Forest fans chipped in to buy an advertisement that ran on the front page of the local newspaper’s sports section calling for the ouster of coach Jeff Bzdelik. Then, after the Deacons lost their seventh straight tournament game, an angry fan came down to the railing behind the team’s bench and started screaming at Bzdelik, touching off an uncomfortable debate with a group of the coach’s supporters.
3. Slow starts: Boston College set a tone in the tournament opener by falling behind Georgia Tech 15-0. The Eagles recovered to win the game, but didn’t learn from their mistake by scoring just two points in the first 5:21 of its quarterfinal loss to Miami. Duke and N.C. State also fell victim to slow starts with the Wolfpack going the first 5:25 without scoring in a semifinal loss to Miami while Duke fell behind 12-2 and never recovered in its quarterfinal loss to Maryland.
4. Bubble burst: Virginia had a chance to strengthen its NCAA tournament resume by beating N.C. State in Friday’s quarterfinals. Instead, the Cavaliers got a subpar 4 of 13 performance from star Joe Harris in what turned out to be a damaging 75-56 loss. Instead of playing in the NCAA tournament, Virginia must now settle for being a No. 1 seed in the NIT.
STAT OF THE WEEK
UNC became only the second team in the 60 year history of the ACC tournament to lose three straight championship games. The Tar Heels also lost in the final to Florida State last year and Duke in 2011. Maryland also lost three straight tournament finals between 1972-74.
Brett Friedlander (starnewsonline.com)
Coaches All-ACC team differs from media picks
The coaches’ All-ACC first team consisted of Duke teammates Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry, Miami’s Shane Larkin, Virginia’s Joe Harris and Virginia Tech’s Erick Green. Curry was a second-team pick by the media.
Curry’s selection dropped N.C. State’s Richard Howell down to the second team, where he was joined by the Wolfpack’s Lorenzo Brown, Miami’s Kenny Kadji and the North Carolina duo of Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo.
There was also a tie in the coaches’ All-Rookie team, which consists of Boston College’s Olivier Hanlan, Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, N.C. State’s T.J. Warren, Wake Forest’s Devin Thomas, Georgia Tech’s Robert Carter Jr., and UNC’s Marcus Paige.
The Associated Press
North Carolina NCAA tournament preview
THE FIRST OPPONENT
Villanova tied for seventh place in the Big East with an 11-7 league record, and the Wildcats (20-13) lost 74-55 against Louisville in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Jay Wright’s team was 11-7 overall before it won back-to-back home games against Louisville and Syracuse in late January. Facing teams that made the NCAA field, Villanova went 4-2 at home (with additional wins against Marquette and Georgetown) and 0-4 on the road. JayVaughn Pinkston, a 6-foot-7, 260-pound forward, averages a team-leading 13.1 points, and Wake Forest transfer Tony Chennault averages 18.5 minutes off the bench.
This one is obvious. Playing Kansas, Williams’ former team, at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., would be no picnic. The Jayhawks jumped out to a 40-12 lead on UNC at the 2008 Final Four, and they returned three starters from the team that defeated the Tar Heels in the 2012 Elite Eight. Davidson upset Kansas in the Sprint Center early last season, but the Jayhawks are 6-0 there this season, with half of the wins coming in the Big 12 tournament. They have a 20-4 all-time record in the building.
The Associated Press
Duke NCAA tournament preview
THE FIRST OPPONENT
Albany (24-10) edged Vermont 53-49 in the America East Conference final to earn its first NCAA tournament bid since 2007. A team that prefers to play at a slow pace and rely on solid defense, the Great Danes won at Washington in November but lost six of their final 11 regular-season games. Senior guard Mike Black (14.9 points per game) and Jacob Iati (12.1 ppg) drive the Great Danes’ attack.
THE POTENTIAL PITFALL
If the Blue Devils need any idea how potentially damaging a meeting with No. 7 seed Creighton (27-7) is to a team’s NCAA title hopes, they can ask North Carolina. The Tar Heels beat the Blue Jays in last season’s tournament, but a hard foul on point guard Kendall Marshall by Creighton’s Ethan Wragge left Marshall with a broken wrist and the Tar Heels with a team that couldn’t get past Kansas two rounds later. This season, the Blue Jays, who would have to beat Cincinnati in the first round, feature one of the nation’s best players in junior forward Doug McDermott and a veteran supporting cast that should make them a tough out.
Lauren Brownlow (accsports.com)
Three To Look Back At/Three To Look Forward To, March 18
N.C. State 75, Virginia 56
So THIS is what N.C. State looks like when it plays defense against a good opponent! Weird. Of all people, Scott Wood absolutely locked down UVa star Joe Harris, who had 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting. N.C. State held Virginia to 38.9% shooting, forced a few turnovers, contested most shots and got defensive rebounds. It was a surreal experience. Sarcasm aside, it shows what N.C. State is capable of when it wants to play defense. Because it can, indeed, play defense.
Special shoutout: Scott Wood.
The senior has come a long way over his career. He can even defend a little now! But really, the biggest progression Wood has made is in his ability to bounce back from a frustrating stretch. (How frustrating was it, Scott? Okay, I’m sorry.) In three ACC Tournament games, Wood averaged 19 points and made 16-of-27 threes (over 59%). And he did all that while playing defense. And he hit hit a lot of those shots when N.C. State really needed them.
(Assuming seeds hold, these are the potential matchups I’m most looking forward to watching.)
No. 8 N.C. State vs. No. 1 Indiana
This is the game we all want to see, right? Which of course means that N.C. State will lose in the opening-round game to Temple. Well, let’s still pretend this game could happen. This game could very well end up being a #QuestFor100, as both teams love to get up and down. Indiana is 19th in the country (per Ken Pom) in defense, so it’s unfair to say the Hoosiers don’t play defense. But let’s just say it could be a bit of a shock to the system for Indiana at first to see a team from outside the Big 10, a team at which the rims are not angry.
Player to watch: Cody Zeller
CODY ZELLER! RICHARD HOWELL! ONE MAN DRAWS FOULS! ONE MAN COMMITS FOULS! ONE MAN GETS REBOUNDS! THE OTHER MAN GETS ALL OF THE REBOUNDS EVER! ONE MAN RUNS THE FLOOR! THE OTHER HAS A DEEP THIGH BRUISE THAT MIGHT LIMIT HIM! TWO MEN ENTER! (Um, both men will still exit. But it will be fun to watch, and just one team will advance. The all-caps wrestling promo just seemed appropriate somehow, as an homage to Big Rich if nothing else.)
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 1 Kansas
The NCAA Tournament hates rematches, unless of course it involves North Carolina facing Kansas again in the second round! ROY FACING HIS OLD TEAM! OH, THE DRAMA! Or maybe the Selection Committee just doesn’t hate rematches after all and has to seed teams somewhere. Many thought UNC had played itself off of the eight-seed line, but no such luck. UNC was a team many thought could be “dangerous”, if not for this whole pesky “playing No. 1 seed Kansas in Kansas City on the second weekend of the tournament” thing. Oh, and the whole “UNC being a very good group but probably not a spectacular team” thing. There is that thing too.
Player to watch: Elijah Johnson
Kansas has kind of gone as its much-maligned senior point guard has gone this year, and the NCAA Tournament should be no exception. Last year, Tyshawn Taylor was in a similar situation – his swings weren’t as dramatic, but he had stretches where he hurt the Jayhawks. But when Taylor faced a Kendall Marshall-less UNC squad in the Elite 8, he was a huge difference maker. Johnson might be that guy again, for better or for worse. UNC’s Marcus Paige has made marked improvements, but this will still be a tough matchup on a huge stage for the freshman.
Joe Giglio (N&O)
Towe, Blue Raiders also start NCAA journey in Dayton
Monte Towe will be in Dayton, Ohio, on Tuesday with Middle Tennessee State in the NCAA tournament.
There’s a part of the former N.C. State assistant coach, and star player, that wishes he could stay until Friday to watch the Wolfpack take on Temple.
Towe, an assistant to Sidney Lowe for five seasons at State, helped recruit and develop many of the current Wolfpack players.
“I’m really proud of them,” Towe said. “I know they had high expectations at the beginning of the season, but they’ve played well.
“I hope they can beat Temple and make a run in the tournament. I’ll be rooting for them.”
Towe’s hoping the Blue Raiders will be in Auburn Hills, Mich., for a Round of 64 matchup with Memphis by Thursday. The regular-season Sun Belt champions have to play St. Mary’s in the First Four on Tuesday in Dayton.
Zach Dillard (Fox Sports Carolinas)
Thirteen under-the-radar guys in NCAA tourney
While watching Tony Snell single-handedly dispose of UNLV in the Mountain West Conference tournament finals, the subsequent reaction, especially that of CBS announcer Reggie Miller, stood out.
In a one-point game against a Top-25-caliber opponent — one that had already beaten the Lobos in the Thompson & Mack Center earlier in the year—the junior swingman dropped 13 consecutive points to propel his team to the tourney title in the nation’s No. 1 RPI conference and a No. 3 seed in the NCAAs. With a loss, it’s conceivable the Lobos could have been handed a 4- or 5-seed. Instead, Snell kept the Lobos as dark horse favorites to reach Atlanta.
Miller called it Snell’s “Kodak moment.” In many ways, it was.
But there should be no surprise if Snell has an explosive March, and it got me thinking as to how the nation as a whole approaches the NCAA Tournament — focused on the big programs, the big stars it saw on TV week after week and then acting shocked when upsets inevitably happen and smaller schools steal the spotlight.
So, with Snell leading the way, here are 12 other under-the-radar names to keep in mind in this tournament:
Khalif Wyatt, Temple
Wyatt, much like Franklin, is another player who should be bigger than a blip on the national radar. In last season’s lone tourney game — a loss to South Florida — the senior’s 19 points were not enough. But he’s back in the field and even more of a focal point this time around.
Though his shooting percentages have fallen off, the Owls look to Wyatt to handle the bulk of their offensive needs, and he responded by leading the Atlantic 10 with 22.4 points per game in conference play. If he can rebound from his recent shooting slump and continue to get to the free- throw line — he’s made 50 free throws in his last five games alone — N.C. State and the East Regional will have a dynamic scorer to contend with.
NC STATE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL
NC State (16-16, 7-11 ACC) vs. Richmond (16-15, 6-8 A-10)
Thursday, Mar. 21, 2013 • Time TBA
Raleigh, N.C. • Reynolds Coliseum
NC State women’s basketball will make its 31st postseason appearance after receiving a bid to the 2013 Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) on Monday night. The Wolfpack will host Richmond on Thursday, March 21 at Reynolds Coliseum. A game time will be announced on Tuesday.
WNIT tickets go on sale Tuesday at 8:30 a.m., on GoPack.com or by phone at 919-865-1510.
Sixty-four teams make up the WNIT field, with 29 automatic berths and 35 at-large teams. The Wolfpack (16-16) earned one of the at-large berths, which requires an overall record of .500 or better to be considered for selection.
This is the Wolfpack’s third postseason appearance in four seasons under the leadership of head coach Kellie Harper. She led her first NC State team to the 2010 NCAA Tournament and guided last year’s squad to the 2012 WNIT.