The REAL game that is important this week is played on Saturday

Hopefully the taste of last night’s debacle in Chapel Hill has had a little time to dissipate for you.

More importantly, I hope that it is already been forgotten by the NC State basketball team because the game that actually matters most lies on the horizon on Saturday night at 8pm when the Wolfpack host Virginia.

Most NC State fans were fairly realistic before State’s trip to Chapel Hill — we didn’t expect a win, nor were we in a ‘must win’ desperate situation. State fans were hoping to see a more competitive contest than we have seen in recent years and use the experience as a barometer of where we may stand this year. I am not going to prolong that point. If you haven’t read BJD’s fantastic framing of State-Carolina then you need to click here for a great, quick read.

Allow me to repeat: “we didn’t expect a win, nor were we in a ‘must win’ desperate situation.”

Since we were not expecting a win…there is no real difference between losing by 19 or 9 or 90. At the end of the day, my pre-game proclamation that NC State’s RPI would improve by simply taking the floor in Chapel Hill was proven correct. State moved up to #51 in the RPI to further solidify ourselves on the potential NCAA Tournament bubble, with a clear need for a couple more good wins against ‘NCAA Tournament-level competition’.

Guess who is #52 in the RPI? And, who also is currently considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament while being ranked in the Top 20 of the national polls?

That is right — the Virginia Cavaliers

Although NC State is not in a ‘must win/can’t lose’ situation yet, make no mistake about the importance of a win against Virginia on Saturday night. Despite the pervasive simplistic view of the national media that Virginia is (currently) clearly NCAA Tournament worthy, the only thing separating the Cavaliers and the Wolfpack is that UVA has one more solid out of conference win than State – against #23 Michigan.

I can’t stress how valuable it would be for the Wolfpack’s post-season chances to firmly entrench ourselves in the same stratosphere as UVa. State has played the #44th toughest schedule in America while UVA has played the #144th toughest schedule. With such a scheduling disparity, a Wolfpack win over the Cavaliers would clearly emphasize that the only reason they have a better record than us is because they played such a weaker schedule.


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11-12 Basketball

19 Responses to The REAL game that is important this week is played on Saturday

  1. wufpup76 01/27/2012 at 6:42 PM #

    Game of the season thus far with respect to postseason implications.

    It’s nice to be able to talk realistically about a berth after 20 games.

    Either way, nice strides have been made this season. Would be great to get a real positive shot in the arm with a win over Virginia. We can do it.

  2. blpack 01/27/2012 at 6:52 PM #

    Get it done, Pack!

  3. choppack1 01/27/2012 at 7:05 PM #

    When we finally got back in the tourney in 2002 our games vs. Uva were critical. It is the same this year. This is the battle for 4th in the conference

  4. Ashman87 01/27/2012 at 7:13 PM #

    I agree, although I have a bad omen. I just saw who’s doing the TV telecast: Mike Patrick and Len Elmore. I hope that’s as worse as it will get tommorrow.

  5. ADVENTUROO 01/27/2012 at 7:47 PM #

    Totally agree. BC almost had UVA last night. We looked better against BC than UVA did and it WILL be a home game. Everyone needs to BE THERE. There are usually LOTS of tickets in the Parking Lot. Several adds on C/L-Raleigh and the prices are reasonable. Need a full and racous crowd….and not a lot of ORANGE folks.

  6. BJD95 01/27/2012 at 8:07 PM #

    This is a very good matchup for us. I don’t think they have an answer for out “multiple bigs” looks on offense. And they usually don’t open up their offense enough to have their guards create a mismatch when they have the ball.

    I think we will lead start to finish. It will be close, and at times ugly. But 5-2 is where we’ll land.

    Yes, GA – I sacrificed a chicken as I predicted that.

  7. BJD95 01/27/2012 at 8:09 PM #

    Another plus – they no longer have Mustafa Farrakhan on their roster, so Allah should remain neutral.

  8. Wulfpack 01/27/2012 at 8:41 PM #

    UVA is the master of keeping it close no matter who they are playing. They play extremely tough man to man defense and are very well coached. Scott is the difference maker. This one will go back and forth. I agree we have the advantage down low. Looking forward to watching it.

  9. logarithm 01/27/2012 at 9:15 PM #

    I think I read that their most fast-paced game had 61 possessions, all of the rest having 60. State hasn’t played a game yet with fewer than 68 possessions. I’m hoping our boys can outpace them and be patient and cleanly stonewall them on defense.

    I agree, it’s a much more important game for our NCAA hopes. We lose to UNC-CH, they were #7 nationally, whatever. We lose to UVA, that defines us as a fingers crossed, hope-we-get-lucky bubble team instead of a squad with real wins and real contention for a spot.

  10. john of sparta 01/27/2012 at 9:22 PM #

    UVA has a reason to win.
    we have a reason to…..
    it’s that simple.
    do we want it?

  11. BladenWolf 01/27/2012 at 10:41 PM #

    The teams look even on paper but the statistic mentioned earlier about strength of schedule is interesting. Hope that playing a much tougher schedule will give us the advantage we need. GO PACK!

  12. Wolfman 9806 01/27/2012 at 11:15 PM #

    “Since we were not expecting a win…there is no real difference between losing by 19 or 9 or 90.

    There most certainly is a HUGE difference in the manner in which a game is lost. To lose while being competitive would have demonstrated the continued development and positive direction of this team. To shit your pants on national tv and get embarrassed could actually be very detrimental to a team that is trying to develop their self-esteem and confidence along with the on-court play.

    I’m also not sure about your “not expecting to win” mentality. If as players and fans, we have already conceded defeat, then why even bother to show-up for the games that we are not farvored to win. If we don’t start expecting to beat unc and duke, then they will continue to have us beaten before we even suit up.

  13. ryebread 01/27/2012 at 11:40 PM #

    Great original post and something that I’ve been harping on for a couple of weeks. Winning at UNC would have just been icing, but it wasn’t expected. I had that game circled as a loss before the season started, without even seeing what we put on the floor. While I was disappointed in how we loss, it really wasn’t that critical to our season.

    If we want to go to the NCAA, UVA at home is a must win game. We have to defend the home court. We need a win against a “name” opponent. We need wins against top 50 RPI teams (which I think UVA could end up being).

    We also need to finish at worst about 4th in the ACC as the league may not get more than 4 teams in. UNC, Duke and FSU look like the top 3 teams, so we’ll battle it out with UVA, Maryland and Miami for that 4th spot. Finish 5th at 9-7 and we’ll be on the outside looking in.

    This is a barometer game for the coaching staff. How does the team respond AFTER the whipping laid on them by UNC. Will that game cause a “hangover and a home loss to UVA?”

    Really, UVA is ripe for the taking. Due to injury, they’re the weakest they’ve been all year. This game is at home. Stylistically, we match up very well with them. We should be able to pound them on the boards, get out on the break for some easy buckets. If we score 70, we’ll win this game.

    Come on team. Let’s get this done!

  14. swamppack 01/28/2012 at 12:25 AM #

    I am watching what all you positive posters are saying on this blog. Let’s just say it is an objective point of view concerning how I feel about the program right now.

    Yes, we beat all of the patsy teams this year, and I will admit that’s a step forward. When it comes to the games we had a chance to serve notice in though, we either got blown out or lost the lead in the second half.

    Will we ever see that “something special” materialize with a State team again?

  15. Wufpacker 01/28/2012 at 4:45 AM #

    The UVa game is big, no doubt. They are not top 50 RPI currently, but likely will be by year’s end. Of more immediate issue is the fact that they’re ranked. A statement win tomorrow against them would get increased media coverage because of that, and give the perception of the program a little momentum forward….recruits watch SportsCenter. Players watch SportsCenter as well, and being able to watch some positive images of themselves all weekend would likely help take the sting out of what happened Thursday night (and restore most of the confidence lost).

    And don’t panic when we come out looking a bit flat for the first few minutes. I fully expect a bit of a lag from Thursday. Fortunately, UVa isn’t a deliberate running team so we shouldn’t be too far behind once we shake the cobwebs. After a shaky start, I think we win going away.

  16. mak4dpak 01/28/2012 at 5:21 AM #

    First year coach, and has the team much better than Lowe ever did. Give the man a break. We are getting there. It might even start with a win over UVA. It is a home game, so the nerves should not be a problem. Seems we played Sid ball for 3 quarters of the game against UNC, them finally realized what we were supposed to be doing in the final 10 minutes. Here is hoping we do it from the start. Go Pack!

  17. tractor57 01/28/2012 at 8:43 AM #

    With all respect to the stats gurus I still am in the camp that you must hold serve at home. That is a minimum in my myopic view.
    Second you must win the games with teams that are “less than you” and steal a few from the “betters”.
    With the loss to Tech the team must steal one from the “betters”.
    Time to see how far the team has come …

  18. VaWolf82 01/28/2012 at 12:23 PM #

    There is a huge difference between “conceeding defeat” and rationally concluding that your team is unlikely to win. I don’t see why so many people can’t see the difference.

    On the other hand, I disagree with the original thesis of the entry. Just because State was unlikely to win, doesn’t change the fact that State needs some key wins and the Chapel Hill game was one of the few ones on the regular season schedule.

  19. LRM 01/28/2012 at 6:06 PM #

    This is one of those times I’m glad we had a quick Thurs-Sat turnaround, rather than a Tues-Sun stretch.

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