“Five Straight NCAA Tournaments”

“Five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances”

You hear it all the time. This^ factoid has become this year’s primary and almost exclusive battle-cry of the Herb Sendek Sunshine Squad. It is the foreward written for the 2006 edition of the HSSS Handbook. It is everywhere. You cannot hide from it. And, it is quite an accomplishment…isn’t it?

The HSSS crew certainly thinks so. Mr. Bob Kennell, a former member of the University’s Athletics Council and staunch supporter of Herb Sendek, recently called the achievement “one significant measureable” on the Pack Pride Message Boards. Many may argue that it is the ONLY measureable that plays in Coach Sendek’s favor, but we need clarify the description of the subjective term “significant” that sits in front of “measureable” in Kennell’s statement. (Of course, anyone that closely follows the management style of Lee Fowler wouldn’t be able to control their laughter that suddenly the concept of “measureable” are being introduced to the conversation by a Sendek Supporter. Hilarious)

Coach Sendek is constantly pleading with the fanbase to take a “wholistic view” of situations — except, of course, you were/are supposed to ignore the ‘wholistic view’ of his failure to make an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first five seasons. (Understand how this works?)

The new buzz-phrase mandated for use in the updated-for-the post-season HSSS Talking Points is “whole body of work”. In fact, poor Gary Hahn was on Charlotte sports radio yesterday pleading with folks to take a look at this year’s “whole body of work”. Yet, he failed to mention State’s #51 RPI; 1-5 record vs the RPI’s Top 25 and 3-5 record vs the RPI’s Top 50.

(StateFansNation will be HAPPY to take some detailed looks at the “entire body of work” in the coming days…but, before we do our research we need to know if we are allowed to count those first five seasons of Sendek’s tenure that we have been told didn’t happen and shouldn’t count. I get so confused by all of the shifting of “standards”. Are we to look at the “entire body of work”…or just the parts of the body of work that Fowler/Sendek/Kennell/and crew mandate?)

I struggle with the practice of blanketly drawing conlcusions in a vaccuum without taking the time to look at the ‘accomplishments’ against the backdrop of actual data. It’s easy to conclude that something is “significant” when you so desperately want it to be, and when you don’t have the foggiest idea who it compares to other achievements.

Statistics, achievements & data should be comparatively judged against the achievements of what NC State’s program has shown that it can historically accomplish; what NC State’s direct competition accomplishes; and programs with resources similar to those of NC State accomplish.

So, let’s review NC State’s “Five Consecutive NCAA Tournamant Appearances” in the wholistic spirit of Coach Sendek’s request of reviewing the entire body of work. Just how significant? is this “streak” in which 4 of the tournament appearances had NC State sitting on the bubble in the last two weeks of the season?

Atlantic Coast Conference Comparison
Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985, how does State’s “5 in a row” compare with other streaks of schools throughout the country? Just cuirous, but “wholistically”….How does 5 in 10 years compare with other schools throughout the country?

For the record, the following are NCAA berths of ACC teams in 5 more consecutive seasons:

5 in a row

In the Atlantic Coast Conference — Duke, Carolina, Maryland, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech and Virginia have all BESTED 5 in a row (some have done it more than once) since the tournament expanded in 1985. Heck, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech & Virginia bested 5 in a row with coaches that they then pushed out for not winning enough. IMHO, it doesn’t look like our peers considered this achievement THAT signficant.

How “significant” can an achievement be if the only schools in the ACC who haven’t achieved at least SEVEN IN A ROW are Clemson and Florida State. (and, NC State, of course).

When you step back and look at this parameter of consecutive NCAA streaks more wholistically…the fact that NC State’s Basketball program has failed to attend more than five consecutive NCAA Tournaments in the last 21 years actually highlights how horribly the program has been managed. You know, Herb Sendek’s streak would be longer if Herb Sendek would have made the Tournament before his SIXTH YEAR of coaching Raleigh…but, somehow I am sure none of that is his responsibility.

NCAA Streaks
It is a very nice achievement that NC State is one of only 15 schools that has been invited to the NCAA Tournament in five consecutive seasons. When you hear this factoid, you cannot help but pick-up on the inference that NC State is performing in the same level as the top programs in the country. Come on…only 15 schools in the country have been as “consistent” as we have (to manipulate weak schedules into NCAA Tournament Bubble Berths). That is an achievement.

Ironicly, the same folks that claim that they want you to look at the “entire body of work” want you to stop right here. But, we cannot. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers behind the statistic. The following is a table of schools that have made at least five consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances sorted by average seeding in the tournament. Additionally, we have tracked the number of times the school exited in the Sweet 16 or advanced at least to the Elite Eight; the % column is how often team advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in the last 4 tournaments (since the 5th one hasn’t been played).

NCAA Seeds2

Wow! That data does a super job of highlighting the chasm between the performance of NC State and the performance of the other schools.

* State rankes 14th out of 15 in average seed (at least we are better than Southern Illinois!!!)

* State’s “best seed” in the last five years ranks better than only three programs – one of which has made multiple Final Fours and won a recent National Title (Michigan State), and one of which knocked us out of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

* State’s “worst seed” in the last five years is better than only one program – Southern Illinois.

Many in the media are criticizing Wolfpackers for not being happy with making five in a row in light of the company that we keep in this achievement. This is based on the natural assumption that NC State is performing similarly to the other schools. As you can see from the table above, NC State is much more of an anamoly than we are a statistical norm.

In fact, of the 15 schools that have played in five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, NC State is the ONLY school that has failed to advance to at least one Final Eight or won a single conference championship.

I know that this won’t change any of the media’s mind. It also won’t change the minds of those who foolishly believe that making the tournament should be the goal of the NC State program or that just making the tournament provides a legitimate opportunity to win it despite evidence to the contrary.

But, perhaps this holistic look at the true details of the situation explains why NC State fans may respond differently about our streak than other fans. It is because our streak IS different.

General NCS Basketball Stat of the Day

62 Responses to “Five Straight NCAA Tournaments”

  1. 427HEVN 03/15/2006 at 9:45 AM #


    Keep up the drumbeat. If 5 straight NCAA’s is all the sunshine lovers have, then keep setting them up and knocking them down.

    Love the blog BTW

  2. Sammy Kent 03/15/2006 at 10:03 AM #

    “Wholistic” approach. Do they mean “wholistic except the first five seasons”? “wholistic except all the games we played like crap this year” INCLUDING SOME WINS (Miami 2OT, Clemson 2OT, UVa and VaTech at home)? There is no greater indicator of the selective and pre-meditated hypocrisy of the HSSS than their constant changing of the bar while accusing Herb’s critics of it. The only moving of the bar is by Herb’s defenders as they continually lower it to match his pitiful accomplishments.

    Oh, and BTW, I hold Bob Kennel in about as much contempt as I do Dean Smith. They are very much alike in their thinly veiled attempts to spin convincing logic from the most disconnected and arbitrarily selected bits of bizarre minutiae. I guess that’s what his ilk are reduced to when the truth that contradicts them is so glaringly obvious.

  3. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 10:10 AM #

    If our OOC had been in the top 20 for the past 10 seasons I could understand the HSSS’s position but as we know that’s not the case. Their guy has been lifting 5lb. dumbells for 10 years and they think he’s Charles Atlas! When will these fools wakeup?

  4. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 10:13 AM #

    ^should have said “If our OOC schedule”

  5. Sam '92 03/15/2006 at 10:13 AM #

    great post, hard-hitting fact analysis.

    We *are* looking at the whole body of work — and we find it *mediocre*.

    The Herb supporters are not blind, and neither are we. We are both seeing the same results.

    The difference is that they find those results acceptable, while we do not.

    unfortunately, the satisfied crowd hold the reins; maybe if we keep making ourselves heard it will make a difference eventually.

  6. NoMoreHerb 03/15/2006 at 10:30 AM #

    Most of the Herb’s Sunshine Boys just remember the Les years. I wish they would please walk over to Reynolds, close their eyes, and just listen to sounds that I remember of Jimmy V, and Norm. You know, the light bulbs (noise meter) that was in there. And when the place got to rockin those thinks would light up. That’s the NC State I want back. I don’t need to be top 10 every year, I just want to try hit somebody in the mouth that has taken a punch at me. That’s what we used to do.

  7. WTNY 03/15/2006 at 10:48 AM #

    Interesting research. I would suggest double-checking all of your numbers as the Gonzaga data is incorrect. See


  8. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 11:05 AM #

    I bet NCSU is the ONLY team that was in the gutter in 1995.
    3 of the teams play in a mid-major conference..so a conf champ
    argument doesn’t fly there. It is really a horrible thing
    to be on about the same level as Michigan St too…wow that is NOT
    where you want to be. Heavens no. Wake, UMd, LSU, Tennessee, Syracuse, Iowa, UCLA, Ohio St, BC, UNC(!!), GT, and Louisville are not
    the ONLY teams that aren’t even on the list. This Spin City ONLY
    gets more and more amazing.

  9. Sam '92 03/15/2006 at 11:09 AM #

    by the way, since when is simply appearing in a 64-team tournament something to crow about?

  10. NCSU'79 03/15/2006 at 11:10 AM #

    Someone have Rick Barnes’ Telephone number? If so, give it to Fowler(or is that Foul_Up)

  11. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 11:15 AM #

    You are right…making the 64team field is easy. Fire Gary Williams!!
    Fire Pitino!!

  12. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 11:20 AM #

    ^I’ll trade their past 10 years with ours anyday! Or do you have something against being ACC and NCAA champions?

  13. TheConsultant 03/15/2006 at 11:23 AM #

    While we can all read the writing on the wall, why is it necessary to keep up with the negative vibes so close to the tourney? I personally like Herb, but I do wish that the team was doing better. Can he do a better job? Probably not. If he could, he would. But how about having a bit more class when it comes to the way that some of the posters here are characterizing each other? Surely, we are better than this…..???

  14. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 11:23 AM #

    I was there during the V years and I remember them. I do remember
    camping out for tickets and a very loud Reynolds. I also remember
    losing to Murray St in the first round, we did win some ACC tourneys, and
    that run in ’83 will always be the most amazing. I also remember making the NCAAs 6 straight times…wait we didn’t do that. I also remember
    not graduating a single player; I also remember national TV coming to
    campus for the wrong reasons. I also remember the penalty we paid
    for not “honoring the system”. Obviously you do not remember these
    things. Remember?

  15. Rick 03/15/2006 at 11:28 AM #

    I think the 5 yers straight is very misleading.
    I know there are at least two schools that have not gone to 5 straight but they have done more than we have when they are there (Md and UNC).

  16. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 11:29 AM #

    “I’ll trade their past 10 years with ours anyday! Or do you have something against being ACC and NCAA champions”

    First off, this was a 5 year argument. Second, the reason we were in
    the gutter 10 years ago was because we tried to cut corners and we
    paid the penalty…Les as a coach didn’t help things. So now you are
    pulling in factors that Sendek could not control.

  17. crpagpalp 03/15/2006 at 11:41 AM #

    “I also remember not graduating a single player”

    Judging by this quote and your previous posts your memory must be failing

  18. class of '74 03/15/2006 at 11:42 AM #

    ^What he has had dominion over he’s laid an egg. No trophies no banners and no competition for our big four rivals. Boy I sure am proud of that record!
    Demand little and you get guys like Herb.

  19. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 11:46 AM #

    How many players did graduate when V was coaching at NCSU?

  20. Fish 03/15/2006 at 11:52 AM #


    Argue the point. Why cannot State be at least close to what Texas, Illinois, Pittsburgh and Florida have accomplished? Resources are very similar and in fact our tradition and historically results way outshines theirs.

    Using the V-witchhunt and the attitude “if we try to be great we will cheat” is tiresome. Give it a rest.

    Tell us what is great about the accomplishments of 5 tourneys in a row and what makes you confident the program under Herb will ever reach similar results with schools of equal resources. What does it tell you that UNC-W has achieved a higher seed in the tourney with their resources and supposedly inferior coach?

    I tell you why because you can’t. Herb is not going to get us there. He hasn’t yet and we have paid him extermely well to try and have given him 5 years to long. Let’s give someone else a shot.

    If Herb is as smart and nice a guy as everyone says he is, then he has invested his money well and is financially stable and will respect the masses’ desires!

  21. Wolfpack Willie 03/15/2006 at 11:55 AM #

    Gugs – V didn’t do us any favors re:academics, I agree. But a competitive program and academic integrity are not mutually exclusive concepts!

  22. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 12:15 PM #

    My point was the V days had its glory days and its nightmare days.
    Gary Williams/UMd has had its glory days and its nightmare days.
    A month ago we would NOT have been having this conversation
    about Sendek. Yes I want both a competitve program with strong
    academics. And yes I want to beat UNC and Duke (not many teams
    have). WF will have trouble making the easy 64-team field again next
    year. We are so close to having both. Recruiting is improving.
    We are in the mix for 4 and 5 star recruits instead of 3 star recruits
    that transfer a year later. Sendek does teach good D; this year’s squad
    hasn’t played good solid man-to-man D as much as other years. I
    do have problems with some of Sendek’s coaching moves; I don’t like
    everything about him. I believe as the recruiting improves the results
    will improve.

  23. Chief93 03/15/2006 at 12:23 PM #

    “I bet NCSU is the ONLY team that was in the gutter in 1995.”

    Duke was pretty bad in 1995 too.

    The word is still “holistic,” BTW:

  24. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 12:32 PM #

    Ah yes the Gaudet year. Ok even better I bet NCSU is the ONLY team that was in the gutter from 1991-95.

  25. Gugs 03/15/2006 at 12:43 PM #

    I am curious as to who you guys want to get to coach and hang those
    banners and win those trophies. Barnes isn’t coming when he is
    enjoying the lack of recruiting competition in TX and big $$$.

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