0–4 Out of Conference puts Pack in a bind

In the previous four years of Sidney Lowe’s guidance, NC State’s Basketball team has proven an ability to win tough out of conference games whether played in the RBC Center or on the road –  Villanova, Cincinnati, Davidson, Seton Hall, Marquette, others.   Unfortunately…that didn’t happen for the Wolfpack this year and we now find ourselves in a competitive position that some could describe as ‘behind the 8-ball’ or even as bad as ‘up the creek’.

I recognize that the quality of your wins is a major factor in NCAA Tournament invitations and seeding.  But before the season began I carved away some specifics and took a  general look at the Wolfpack’s Basketball Schedule. 

With 30 games on the schedule before the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, the Wolfpack plays 14 out of conference games because of the three tournament games in the Charleston Classic.  “EYEBALLING” the schedule, one would think that 20 regular season wins would be a recipe for an almost guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament; with 18 pre-ACC Tournament wins serving to place the Wolfpack on the weaker side of the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble.  Now that we know that the ACC is weaker than we had originally hoped, I don’t think 18 wins could get the Wolfpack into the big dance unless we performed decently well against our four decent out of conference opponents — Cue Captain Obvious – we didn’t.

As you can see from the table below



Let’s presume for a moment that Wolfpack could (miraculously) achieve an 8-8 record against one of the more difficult ACC schedule’s and use this as a foundation of our an assumption set.  (Obviously, any conference performance that varies from this peg will play a role in impacting NC State’s NCAA Tournament resume.)   This would mean State would needed to generate a minimum of an 11-3 record against non-conference opponents to ‘be  the discussion’ in March.  A 12-2 record against the 7th toughest OOC schedule in America coupled with an 8-8 ACC record would have appeared to create safe haven and probable Top 8 NCAA Tournament regional seed for the Wolfpack.  That isn’t going to happen.

  • As you can see from the table, NC State has ten OOC match-ups that are ‘hold serve games’ and should result in wins.  Any stumbles against these foes, ala East Carolina a couple of years ago, could be deadly for the Wolfpack’s season (and could intellectually be argued to be deadly to Sidney Lowe’s coaching career as you extrapolate the potential impact of such a loss to the Wolfpack’s season).

  • This leaves four ‘swing games’ that will play a defining role in the Wolfpack’s quest for success this season.  We have highlighted those four games in the table above – Georgetown, @ Wisconsin, @ Syracuse, and Arizona.  As we now know…the Wolfpack whiffed on this and now are in a lot of trouble.

  • Just a single victory against that^ subset of opponents was an absolute must and would have gotten the Wolfpack to a minimum of 11-3 to be on squeeking onto the NCAA Tournament bubble with an 8-8 record in the ACC. 

As I see it today, a 9-7 record in the ACC is a necessary to fit ourselves squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

As most everyone sees it today, based on our our uninspired play to this point of the season, that scenario is shaping up to be a pipedream.

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10-11 Basketball Sidney Lowe

108 Responses to 0–4 Out of Conference puts Pack in a bind

  1. gotncstate 12/20/2010 at 8:14 AM #

    I watched the past 2 games. 1st 1/2 against Y.S was PATHETIC! NCSU will NOT make the NIT or the NCAA. This will probably be Sid’s last year here b/c he has proven he is not a high-caliber coach. Finding a quality coach that wants to come to Raleigh & compete w/Duke & Carowhina will continue to be a challenge for the Wolfpack faithful. Good Luck fellas….

  2. section2chuck 12/20/2010 at 8:24 AM #

    I was watching the game yesterday on FSS, and what do you know Mike Gminski and Tim Brando threw out a Herb Sendek reference in the 1st half…I just want to vomit. They talked about what an amazing coach he was, and how he may not have the best of personalities but he can win games, and his “Amazing” run of 5 NCAA tourneys, also they even said that Sendek took State to the NCAA’s in the 1990’s(um, no he didnt). The facts are Sidney Lowe is a trainwreck, and we all know it. But, I think we all knew it was time for a change in 2006, only problem was he had an idiot conducting the search, those same mistakes will not be made by DY. This team looks like ALL of Lowe’s teams, LOST…

  3. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 8:35 AM #

    Last night marked only the second time this year that I watched an entire Pack hoops game (Georgetown being the other). So, I would have written a similar article except that SFN beat me to it. Although my title would have been “A New Low(e) – O-for-OOC.”

    Because beating Little Sisters of the Poor means nothing come tournament time. Which is why I believe that overall wins is a completely useless metric. Given the weakness of the ACC and the “performance” against our OOC slate, I think 9-7 plus first round ACCT win would give State a VERY weak bubble resume. Even with 3 extra bids available.

    We also have to quit harping about the “tough” conference schedule. November and December have proven the following:

    1) Duke is very good (State plays Duke twice).

    2) Wake Forest is “Les Robinson era NC State” awful (State plays Wake twice).

    3) The middle 10 is a hot, jumbled mess.

    So, the only teams with a “hard” schedule are the ones that play Duke twice, and Wake only once. The “easy” roaders get Wake twice and Duke once. State is in neither category.

    This team still plays no defense (Tracy’s return – especially on a bum knee – won’t help that one bit), and is fundamentally unsound.

    Compare that to Arizona, fighting jet lag and in Sean Miller’s SECOND season. He inherited a decimated roster, too. He just bitched about it less and did a better job establishing an identity for his team. Must be nice, huh?

  4. 87stategrad 12/20/2010 at 8:56 AM #

    I find it ironic that the theme for this year’s team is, “The Stage is Set”. Which happens to be a line from the song, “The Grand Illusion”.

  5. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 9:07 AM #

    For the record, our Sagarin ranking is 82, with a SOS of 73 – despite having played 4 games against Sagarin Top 20 foes. UNC’s schedule has been tougher, and Virginia, Miami, and Boston College are in the same ballpark, schedule-wise. It’s safe to say that adding games against 4 awful foes (the highest rated squad is 2-5 Delaware State, at #161) will drag the OOC ranking down to no better than 100. Without ANY decent OOC wins, that’s not going to help a bubble case.

    East Carolina is State’s best win so far. They check in at #189.

  6. PackInsider 12/20/2010 at 9:09 AM #

    ^^ Get ready to hear more and more about how great we had it with Sendek and look for the myths to expand even further. They’ll be telling us Sendek had something to do with the ’83 title before all is said and done.

    Getting rid of Lowe is inevitable. This team is young and you were kidding youselves if you thought Leslie, Brown & Harrow were going to come in and lead us on a tear early, but there are lots and lots of red flags beyond just youth problems for this team. I’ve decided to stop kidding myself and have accepted that Lowe is not going to work out, something I feared back on the day we hired him. I hope we are gauging interest early now so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes that incompetent bum Fowler made.

  7. Alpha Wolf 12/20/2010 at 9:17 AM #

    It’s time to start to start keeping an eye on good coaches at other schools who might be in the mood to making a change at the end of the year. It sure looks like Sidney Lowe will be back in the NBA as an assistant by summer and that NCSU fans are going to be following a coaching search in April.

    What’s going to be the excuse this year? Injuries? Youth? Or the old standby…”I keep telling them what to do, but they just won’t listen?”

  8. Packfan28 12/20/2010 at 9:23 AM #

    Given the relative mediocrity of the ACC this year, I’m thinking 9 and 7 with one ACCT win gets us on the bubble, but probably on the wrong side of it. 10 and 6 with two ACCT wins or 11-5 with one ACCT win likely gets us in. Having some difficult OOC games is great, but you really need to win one of them for it to truly matter. Elon. UNCG, NCCU etc all play some tough OOC games that they all lose as well.

  9. baxter 12/20/2010 at 9:24 AM #

    I loved the Herb left with only his wife and kids as his fans comment.

  10. Prowling Woofie 12/20/2010 at 9:25 AM #

    When does football season start ?

  11. Pack Mentality 12/20/2010 at 9:31 AM #

    Pulling an 0-for in OOC play against good teams when we had many games is all you need to know. What would the odds be in Vegas on Lowe having his job next year.

    So, this being the case and we all know this is his last year we need to get rid of him now! Show the fanbase they’re serious about the state of the team. Show all potential coaches that we are looking. Have the whole season to decide.

    Yes we may gave some miraculous turn of events. But while I don’t put my life savings on a single number when playing roulette, I’ll play the safer odds here of assuming that Lowe will not turn it around.

  12. packalum44 12/20/2010 at 9:33 AM #

    Anyone know Lowe’s buyout? Before folks start looking outward we must look inward first. Out athletics department is not exactly flushed with cash right now. If his buyout is reasonable there is hope.

  13. PoppaJohn 12/20/2010 at 9:42 AM #

    Okay, I’ve given up on SL too. They quit last night, and that is not acceptable. I think Sid was a great idea that did not work out. What a great story it would have been – but is not to be. He’s got his talent, he’s got his point guard, no more excuses. He’s had 10 games to see something – and last night was terrible.

    I think we are in deep trouble. Those on this site that think we are a ‘destination’ for coaches are kidding themselves. Any coach that remembers when we were good is too old for us to want him, and the rest just remember us as losers – but losers with a nice building. Losers with two of the most successful programs in the history of college basketball just up the street to be compared to daily. And of course there is the fan base, very passionate, but very demanding and vocal. Not sure we are perceived as a strength, weakness, or not a factor at all. (I.e. great if you win, pretty rough otherwise – a wash and probably not very different from many schools, as much as we flatter ourselves otherwise.)

    This will be Yow’s signature hire, I hope she can pull off a miracle.

  14. VaWolf82 12/20/2010 at 10:17 AM #

    There are alot of unknowns trying to look forward to Selection Sunday in Dec, but this is a good “back of the envelope” summary of State’s position. If you’ve missed the bubble discussions over the last several years here at SFN, then here’s a simplier version for you:

    If you can’t beat any of the good OOC teams, why would you expect to beat enough decent ACC teams to have any chance at the NCAAT?

  15. Sw0rdf1sh 12/20/2010 at 10:17 AM #

    There were a lot of opportunities last night and I can’t say I’m totally disappointed. I knew going into this not having T Smith was a big factor. The fact that Howell continues to grow and Painter has shown considerable improvement (and holy shikes did he just add 15 pounds in the past month?) does bode well for us moving forward. Vandenburg looks like he is really struggling.

    Tracey would have been a HUGE difference in that game. We were doing the right things, pushing them, getting fouls…and we just couldn’t capitalize on it later in the game.

    There were a couple of moments were we were all over the boards getting second chance after second chance and NONE of the easy shots were falling. We had chances…they were not falling. I cannot blame that on coaching.

    Now I didn’t care for the give up attitude with 1:00 to play, V would have never done that, he would have drug them suckers to every last second.

    We are our best player away from gellin like Magelen (I hope).

  16. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 10:19 AM #

    NC State is still one of the best 20-30 jobs in the sport, even after all the damage Monteith, Turner, and Fowler did to our brand identity. You will see this when a competent AD conducts the next coaching search.

    I would never support an interim coach, absent a HUGE ethical problem. Teams inevitably play better, and this often leads to bad permanent hires. We are playing out the string now, so who cares if Lowe finishes out the shitstorm?

  17. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 10:25 AM #

    I’m about 90 percent certain that Lowe only has two years left on his contract. It hasn’t been extended recently and obviously it won’t be again. That should make a buyout fairly easy, especially if Lowe wants the dignity of a buyout/resignation instead of just getting fired.

    If I were Debbie Yow, I would go ahead and get the lawyers talking now. And we only forego a firing if we get a fair buyout negotiated by the first week of March.

  18. PackisRolling 12/20/2010 at 10:29 AM #

    Realistically I agree this quite possibly will be Sid’s last year. But…having Tracy Smith out definitely hurts. I’ll hold off on burying this team as dead until we see the impact of Smith’s return.

  19. PackisRolling 12/20/2010 at 10:32 AM #

    I agree NC State job is a top 25 job. The proximity of UNC and Duke actually helps in my opinion. Had we gotten Calipari the media would have LOVED to hype the triangle / tobacco road angle I think.

    but…glad we didn’t get cal in the end.

  20. BJD95 12/20/2010 at 10:35 AM #

    Of course the team will play better if and when TS comes back. But not enough. We are way more than one one-dimensional player from being a good basketball team. Lowe has no mulligans left, improvement doesn’t matter. Neither do injuries or youth. It’s Year Five. Shit or get off the pot.

  21. Classof89 12/20/2010 at 10:44 AM #

    My only question is, would Rick Barnes be willing to come, and would we be willing to pay what it takes to get him here?

    Anyone hear his comments after the UNC win? That man dreams in his heart of hearts of coaching on Tobacco row. And the 3rd best job on Tobacco row is better than coaching hoops anywhere in the state of Texas…

  22. 61Packer 12/20/2010 at 10:50 AM #

    Last night’s performance has led me to drop the “e” in Sid’s last name.

    I was there last night and heard mainly “U OF A!!” raining down on me for most of the game. While one team whipped the ball around with authority, the other team handled the ball like it was a rotten potato. It was another classic 3-D game from a Sidney Low team- no defense, no discipline, and no direction. Fans around me left shaking their heads.

    Our program, once great, has deteriorated in the past two decades to basically a D-2 level. I don’t really care anymore about Low’s future. What I do care about is the future of State basketball. Will we EVER look good again?

    This whole fiasco since we left Reynolds makes me wonder why we simply don’t hand the RBC keys to the Hurricanes and go back to Reynolds. Better yet, it’s time for our AD to go back to Square One.

  23. Pano Fasoulas 12/20/2010 at 11:00 AM #

    Am I frustrated with the season so far? Yes.
    Is State in a tough spot for making the tourney? Yes.

    But, I’m going to hold judgement until the season is over and I’ve seen the whole product on the floor. A “one dimensional” player can definitely turn things around if it’s the missing piece. Painter and Howell are getting great experience without Smith here. That bodes well for when Smith takes a rest in games or gets in foul trouble. Remember, patience is a virtue. If the season goes like this the rest of the way, then I’ll make a decision on the future of the coach. Until then, I’m going to keep supporting the team, and not jump off a cliff.

  24. PackHowler 12/20/2010 at 11:05 AM #

    ^Yes, he does still have 2 seasons left on his contract after this one, as per Pack will be Patient with Lowe. Looks like the patience has run out…

  25. Alpha Wolf 12/20/2010 at 11:07 AM #

    Sure, wait until the season is over to make the call, but let’s be honest: it’s the same old, same old no-heart crap that has dogged this team for the entire Lowe era when they aren’t playing Duke or Carolina…and even then they can’t usually get the W.

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