GAMEDAY HEADLINES: Pack vs Holes, Act III (ACC Tournament Edition)

March 10, 2012

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Ron Green Jr (N&O)
With gritty win, Wolfpack makes NCAA case

N.C. State is making itself comfortable in this land of hope and dreams where its basketball season now resides.

With its gritty 67-64 victory over Virginia Friday in the ACC tournament quarterfinals, the Wolfpack assured itself of remaining in the discussion in Indianapolis where the game’s bracket builders are piecing together the NCAA tournament field this weekend.

Was a victory over a good but not great Virginia team enough to push the Wolfpack over the edge from out to in?


Maybe not.

Edward Aschoff (
Wolfpack say they’re a tournament team

Heading into the second round of the ACC tournament, all the talk concerning North Carolina State and its NCAA tournament chances centered on beating Virginia.

Mission accomplished.

Or was it?

Now that NC State’s 67-64 win over the Cavaliers is in the books, the Wolfpack can only sit and speculate on the fate of their tournament chances. They know their bubble didn’t burst, but was their winning effort enough to persuade an NCAA tournament committee that was probably on the fence about NCSU?

Leslie growing up before our eyes

One of the big differences between pro sports and college sports is that, for the most part, the college kids are just that — kids.

There’s the odd 18- or 19-year-old on a pro team, but for the most part they’ve been to college or fought their way up through the minors. College teams are loaded with 18-year-olds, of course, and there are times where boys become men before our eyes.

That’s happening right now with C.J. Leslie, who is growing up so fast on so many levels. The detached, sulking Leslie that stumbled through his freshman year at N.C. State is gone, replaced by a confident, driven young man who’s taking over games. He may sense the NBA approaching rapidly, but that’s no reason not to appreciate the growth in Leslie, who will turn 22 in June.

As he has been for the last month, Leslie was a demon on the court in today’s win over Virginia. At one point, Lorenzo Brown asked for the ball back. Leslie shrugged him off, took his man to the rim and scored. Not long after, while his teammates conceded a rebound and went back on defense, Leslie tore the ball out of Akil Mitchell’s hands in what may have been the hustle high point of his entire N.C. State career.

NCSU still looking ahead

The most impressive thing about N.C. State’s basketball team Friday may not have been its work in a 67-64 must-win game against Virginia.

Instead, it might have been in how quickly the Wolfpack players were willing – even anxious – to put the achievement in their memory bank.

“There’s something more important tomorrow now,” said Wolfpack senior C.J. Williams, referring to Saturday’s ACC tournament semifinal shot against UNC.

“This is what we’ve worked out butts off for all along,” Williams said. “We worked all summer for this – out there in the hot sun every day, running, sweating and doing everything we could to get in shape.”

N.C. State’s upset of Virginia gives Pack another shot at Heels

Mark Gottfried scribbled four steps in black marker on the greaseboard in N.C. State’s locker room. Boston College was written under the first step, followed by Virginia, North Carolina and “ACC Champs!!” on the last step.

After N.C. State’s 67-64 win over Virginia on Friday in the ACC tournament, Gottfried added a checkmark next to the Cavaliers on the board. Up next: the top-seeded Tar Heels, who have a 12-game winning streak over the Wolfpack.

C.J. Leslie’s 19 points and 14 rebounds lifted N.C. State (22-11) to a much-needed win for its NCAA tournament hopes. With Texas (43 in the RPI) and Miami (49) moving into the top 50 of the RPI with conference tournament wins on Thursday, the Wolfpack now has four wins over the top 50, one of the numbers the selection committee considers when it picks the at-large pool for the 68-team field.

Will it be enough to move the Pack off the bubble and into the tournament for the first time since 2006?

Bret Strelow (
N.C. State senior C.J. Williams might get to live his NCAA tournament dream after all

N.C. State senior C.J. Williams is one step closer to realizing his dream of playing in the NCAA tournament.

Williams, a graduate of Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville, had six points, three assists and three steals in the Wolfpack’s 67-64 win in an ACC tournament quarterfinal against Virginia on Friday. A first victory against a team ranked in the top 50 of the RPI could be enough to help N.C. State receive an NCAA at-large berth.

“I’m not afraid to say it; I think we should be in,” Williams said. “We hear all the talk about, ‘You need to win this one,’ and we won it. Now, what does that mean? We’re not finished yet. We came here to win an ACC championship.”

Senior walk-on Kendall Smith approached Williams as soon as he entered the locker room, and they said the same thing to each other: For four years, we’ve been fighting for this.

Bret Strelow (
Scott Wood issues challenge to N.C. State fans

Scott Wood has a theory as to why N.C. State struggled at the free-throw line against Virginia. He was guilty himself, missing a crucial attempt with 22 seconds left and the Wolfpack leading by three points.

He blamed a large gathering of spectators in Carolina blue.

“I personally think Carolina fans were just blowing all at the same time when we shot the ball,” Wood joked.

Brett Friedlander (
Suddenly, N.C. State’s NCAA resume looks a lot better

The past 24 hours have been good to the N.C. State basketball team.

Within the span of that one day’s time, the Wolfpack has greatly enhanced its postseason resume and put itself in position to end a five-year NCAA tournament drought by picking up four wins against teams ranked among the top 50 in the RPI ratings.

And it has only played twice.

The phenomenon is the result of wins by Texas and ACC rival Miami, which catapulted both teams from just outside the top 50 into that elite group. Because the Wolfpack has beaten the Hurricanes twice and the Longhorns once this season, it went from having no top 50 wins to three without ever having taken the court.

Win No. 4 came Friday afternoon when coach Mark Gottfried’s surging team took care of business with a 67-64 victory against Virginia in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament.

Top 50 wins are one of the criteria used by the NCAA tournament selection committee to differentiate between bubble teams battling for the final few at large spots in the field of 68.

Michael Lananna (
N.C. State Gets A Lift From Leslie

With 40 seconds left and the N.C. State lead chipped down to a slim two points Friday, Virginia seemed poised to pull the rug from right under the Wolfpack’s feet.

After all, the ball was in Mike Scott’s hands.

The senior forward and ACC Player of the Year runner-up already had 23 points to his name by the time he positioned himself under the basket for the shot. Had he made it, it would’ve pulled the fourth-seeded Cavaliers within one.

But C.J. Leslie had other ideas.

The Wolfpack forward didn’t give Scott much space to put the ball up, and once it bounced off the rim, he was there to snag the rebound.

“When the time is down, you have to get in a stance and play tough defense,” Leslie said. “I wanted to be in a position to challenge that shot.”

David Glenn (
David Glenn’s ACC Tourney Mailbag

Tony Barnhart (
After long lapse, coach Gottfried makes N.C. State relevant again

Draw near, dear children, and I will tell you a story that you’ll find hard to believe.

Once upon a time, long before you were only a gleam in your mother’s eye, North Carolina State was the dominant college basketball team, not only in the state of North Carolina, but the ACC as well.

Yes, I know. In your lifetime all you have ever known is the dominance of Duke and North Carolina. Mike Krzyzewski has been at Duke forever, or at least it seems that way, and has won more games than anybody else. Dean Smith retired at North Carolina in 1997 and Roy Williams eventually picks up the baby blue mantle and they just keep rolling. It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when red was the dominant color — or even a relevant color — in the Tar Heel state.

But that time did exist.

Everett Case came to N.C. State in 1946 after winning four Indiana state high school championships and turned North Carolina into a basketball crazy part of the world.

N.C. State won the first three ACC tournament championships (1954-56). In an effort to keep up, Duke would eventually hire a Case disciple, Vic Bubas, as coach. North Carolina would go to New York and hire Frank McGuire in 1952 because its boosters were tired of losing to N.C. State.

And we were off and running.



News & Observer
Video: Beat writers Andrew Carter and Joe Giglio discuss Saturday’s UNC-NCSU semifinal
Williams: There is an added intensity to UNC-NCSU game
Leslie: It’s going to be a great game
Brown: We just had to keep our focus
Wood: We’ve been fighting all year



Eamonn Brennan (
College Basketball Bubble Watch

Miami fell short against Florida State. Tennessee suffered a crushing loss in overtime to Ole Miss. Cal fell to Colorado in the Pac-12 semis. Saint Joe’s fell out of sight after an A-10 quarterfinals loss to St. Bonaventure. Dayton lost to rival Xavier 70-69 thanks to a late play by guard Mark Lyons, a loss that will keep the Flyers out of the field barring a surprise.

But as is always the case on the bubble, there was a winner for every loser. Take Xavier: While it doesn’t count as a marquee win, beating the Flyers allowed the Musketeers to clearly improve their position. Ole Miss got on the bubble as Tennessee moved off. Unlike its ACC brethren Hurricanes, NC State held on for a top-50 win over Virginia, while teams such as Marshall (which beat Southern Miss) entered the fray and a pair of mid-majors (Iona and Drexel) got themselves in striking distance simply by watching from home.

North Carolina State [22-11 (9-7), RPI: 59, SOS: 31] The Wolfpack desperately needed to avoid the fate so many bubble teams suffered Wednesday and Thursday, and they did, holding on for a 67-64 win over Virginia during Friday’s ACC quarterfinals. Where does that leave NC State? Things are looking up, and not just because of Friday’s win. Texas and Miami also managed to sneak into the RPI top 50 as of Friday morning, which means the Wolfpack — who entered the weekend 0-8 against top-50 teams — now have four such wins (including a sweep of Miami) to their credit. Sure, each of the four teams is in the 40s in the RPI, so it’s not exactly a batch of marquee victories. But either way, this resume — which now includes a 6-9 mark against the top 100 — looks much less specious. A semifinals win over UNC would seal the deal. Short of that, NC State may still find itself on the bubble. But as Mark Gottfried intimated on the broadcast Friday, his young team is now in much better shape along the cutline now.

Ray Fagan (
Field of 68: Did Virginia’s loss hurt its NCAA seeding?

Stock Up

1. N.C. State. The Wolfpack seem to be one of the very few bubble teams playing with confidence, and Friday night’s victory against Virginia might be enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, which is an eternity for that fan base. A win Saturday against North Carolina would seal their at-large berth, but the win against Virginia might be enough regardless of how the game with the Tar Heels finishes.

Stock down

1. Miami. Friday was a double-whammy day for the Hurricanes, who found out that guard Durand Scott was ineligible for potential NCAA violations and then lost to rival Florida State in the ACC Tournament. They still have that ace-in-the-hole win at Duke, but that probably won’t be enough to offset the fact that they have just two other wins against top 100 teams.

3. Virginia. The Cavs have long been considered pretty safe—beating Michigan back in November helped with that—but their resume gets pretty thin after the win against the Wolverines. Their RPI in the 50s and 2-6 record against top 50 teams—one of those wins was against the N.C. State team that beat them Friday—puts them in a big group of teams that might not sleep too soundly on Saturday night.
Lunardi’s late-night Bracketology update


NC State
Mississippi State
Seton Hall


Ole Miss

Joe Lunardi (

Jerry Palm (

Top seeds got roughed up in conference tournament play Friday, and while Syracuse and Temple aren’t much worse for wear, Kansas’ loss bumps it off the top line. Ohio State, playing Saturday afternoon against Michigan in the Big Ten semifinals, will take the Jayhawks place as a top seed. Other name teams, including Miami, Nevada and Seton Hall, fall off the bracket altogether.

Last four in: Colorado State, Mississippi, Northwestern, South Florida
First four out:

Jerry Palm (
Bubble Watch
RPI Rankings (1-68)

NCAA Tournament “Dance Card”
Men’s College Basketball RPI Rankings
Men’s College Basketball RPI Rankings

Shawn Siegel (
Bracketology: NC State In, Miami Out, Duke a #1?

NC State also replaced Miami in the field. Besides beating Virginia today, NC State has two wins over Miami which certainly helps. Northwestern remains the last team, while Drexel the first out. At the top of the bracket, Duke regained a #1 seed, giving the ACC two #1 seeds. This is quite controversial, but when you look at the season in total, Duke’s wins over the likes of Michigan St, Kansas, Michigan, and UNC stack up with anybody. Cincinnati also moved into the final 7 spot, jumping 2 seeds thanks to the win over Syracuse. The Orange remain the 2nd overall team despite the loss.

Last In: Northwestern, Tennessee, NC State, Seton Hall

First Out: Drexel, Miami, South Florida, Ole Miss

Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Head Columnist)
2012 March Madness Picks: 2012 Bracketology Picks (Updated 3/10)

12 Seeds – Texas Longhorns, VCU Rams, Washington Huskies, NC State Wolfpack

Texas’ win over Iowa State should be enough to get it in this field in our eyes. It’s not a great resume, but it’s not an awful one, and in this field, “not awful” might be good enough. VCU is still sitting pretty, but we’re not all that sure about its CAA brethren, Drexel. Washington is a team that we would love to keep out, but right now, we just don’t see anyone else getting in, especially from the Pac-12 unless Colorado wins the conference. NC State is the team that has done the most to help itself this week, winning twice in the ACC Tournament. A third win over UNC on Saturday and there is no doubt that the Wolfpack are dancing.

Chris Dobbertean (
Bracketology 2012: Kentucky All But Locks Up Top Overall Seed

– After topping Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals, N.C. State jumps into the field, replacing Miami, a team they happened to defeat twice during the regular season. The Hurricanes failed to respond as they fell to Florida State after learning that Durand Scott was suspended by the NCAA.

– The Cavaliers, meanwhile, are suddenly hovering ever closer to the cut line. Sure, Tony Bennett’s team owns an early win over Michigan, but Virginia failed to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels, Duke Blue Devils and Florida St. Seminoles in the ACC. A 2-1 mark against the Wolfpack and Miami Hurricanes along with that win over the Wolverines and another over Drexel when Chris Fouch was injured, should be enough. But it could be closer than expected for Virginia.

Last Four In

California, Southern Mississippi, Colorado State and BYU sit above the group that may very well be ticketed for Dayton on Sunday evening.

All records and RPI and SOS are accurate as of Saturday, March 10, 2012 and are courtesy Records only reflect games against Division I competition, per Selection Committee standards.

Drexel (27-6, 18-3 CAA, RPI: 70, SOS: 222, non-conf. SOS: 215)
The Dragons lost just twice after a slow 2-4 start, when they were hampered by the absence or ineffectiveness of guard Chris Fouch, who was recuperating from a knee injury. Bruiser Flint’s club certainly passes the “eye” test, particularly by how they came back against VCU in the CAA final on Monday night. However, the weakness of Drexel’s non-conference schedule and a relative down year for its conference could see them left out in the cold.

South Florida (19-13, 13-7 Big East, RPI: 40, SOS: 27, non-conf. SOS: 28)
The Bulls must sit and wait after but they were completely unable to put away Notre Dame on Thursday night. Recent wins over the two Big East finalists help the Bulls’ case, especially the road win over Louisville, as does a win over fellow bubble team Seton Hall. However, early season struggles could make this a close call for USF.

N.C. State (22-11, 11-7 ACC, RPI: 53, SOS: 26, non-conf. SOS: 65)
The Wolfpack toppled Virginia this afternoon to pick up another quality win. Recent victories by Miami and Texas also boost N.C. State’s case. A win over North Carolina in tomorrow’s ACC semifinal would all but seal the deal for Mark Gottfried’s squad.

Mississippi State (21-11, 8-9 SEC, RPI: 65, SOS: 66, non-conf. SOS: 52)
One standout win (at Vanderbilt) and a handful of decent ones (Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arizona) help the Bulldogs’ case. Maddening inconsistency, highlighted by two losses at the hands of Georgia and a loss at Auburn, do not.

About 1.21 Jigawatts

Class of '98, Mechanical Engineer, State fan since arriving on campus and it's been a painful ride ever since. I live by the Law of NC State Fandom, "For every Elation there is an equal and opposite Frustration."

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32 Responses to GAMEDAY HEADLINES: Pack vs Holes, Act III (ACC Tournament Edition)

  1. Rochester 03/10/2012 at 9:11 AM #

    If Duke is a #1 seed they’re a pretty crappy #1 seed. If they see a ref that will call walks on Rivers they could be home by next Sunday.

  2. choppack1 03/10/2012 at 9:13 AM #

    statsheet has us in as an 11 seed right now:

    When are they going to update the dance card?

  3. LRM 03/10/2012 at 9:19 AM #

    Jiga, nice job summarizing all the bubble links for us, makes morning coffee more relaxing!

  4. 1.21 Jigawatts 03/10/2012 at 9:19 AM #

    I’ll continue to add headlines, just wanted to hurry and get something up

  5. BJD95 03/10/2012 at 9:27 AM #

    I think Kansas still gets the 1 ahead of Duke, unless Duke wins the ACCT. I certainly don’t see why Duke’s possible semifinals loss would be better than Kansas’ – after all, Baylor (aka, the Guerilla Bears, or GI Joe at a rave)
    is much better than FSU.

  6. BJD95 03/10/2012 at 9:34 AM #

    I also want to change the meme a bit – time will tell, but I really think there are three “high major” and one “mid major” First Four slots available. It’s a scrum between the PR departments of Drexel, Iona, and Nevada for the latter (possibly to be joined by Long Beach, if they lose tonight). After what VCU did with such a bid last year, I expect that to be the case every year that there’s a credible case to be made (and it is this year, if crap teams like Seton Hall, Washington, and Miss State are still in the conversation).

    With Miami’s loss, I think State is stuck in the First Four (one of three high major slots). But with the most solid footing. Thus, it would take three major league upsets to make me worry – ALL THREE of Marshall winning C-USA, UMass or the Bonnies winning A-10, and Ole Miss winning the SEC (or possibly just beating Vandy to make the final, though I’m highly skeptical of that argument).

    So, while it’s not a lead pipe cinch, it’s at least in the 90-95 percent range.

  7. primacyone 03/10/2012 at 9:45 AM #

    “”Jiga, nice job summarizing all the bubble links for us, makes morning coffee more relaxing!””

    Yes indeed. Awesome stuff for for ACC Tournament Saturday morning.

    Thanks Jiga.

  8. Wufpacker 03/10/2012 at 10:08 AM #

    All I can say is that this is a lot more fun than last year. I’m not among those convinced that we are in with yesterday’s win, but I find myself not really caring this morning. Today, all I want is to beat Carolina. As it should be.

    Everything else will work itself out.

  9. 61Packer 03/10/2012 at 10:21 AM #

    I think we’re going to be in the field, but I still would not be shocked if Miami was selected ahead of us. A win today would seal the deal, but a bad loss (in the eyes of the committee; ANY loss to UNC is a bad loss in the eyes of State fans) could raise some doubts. And if that happened, I wouldn’t be completely shocked if Miami was picked instead of us. Outraged, yes, but not shocked. Way too much politics in this committee, and it IS an election year….

    Kentucky and Syracuse will be #1 seeds regardless of what happens today and tomorrow. UNC and Kansas might be the other two, but if we can do the unthinkable this afternoon, I don’t see UNC getting a #1 seed. And if the Heels don’t win the ACCT, I don’t think they are any more deserving of a top seed than Missouri or Ohio State if those two teams win their league tournaments. Watch out for the Buckeyes.

    My ACCT bracket is still intact, and if it holds up, State and Duke tomorrow. Go Pack!

  10. Alpha Wolf 03/10/2012 at 10:26 AM #

    Beat Carolina and there’s not going to be any trip to Dayton, nor lost sleep Saturday night.

    Problem is that the Heels have superior match-ups and depth. Truth is, Carolina will need to play a “C” game and State will need to play smarter than it has even thus far in the tournament. That means making 90% of our free throws (and there won’t be as many chances, it’s UNC,) not committing silly arm and step fouls, no lazy cross-court passes, etc.

  11. wufpup76 03/10/2012 at 10:34 AM #

    I don’t think folks are touting our road/neutral wins nearly enough.

    We now have 9 – NINE – of those on the season and that has to count for something. Six true road victories (St. Bonny was at their place, not neutral) and now three neutral court victories. Our Rpi is ok, our strength of schedule is fantastic – I think all of this points to a bid … Or at least I hope so.

    I sure hope this road victory number is bolded in the info packs we send to the committee.

    And definitely thanks for all these updates/links – awesome.

    “Knowing is Half the Battle – especially at a rave on E” – GI Joe Guerilla Bears

  12. my_adidas 03/10/2012 at 10:53 AM #

    Is Henson playing today, Roy hates the ACC tourney so my guess is no.

  13. Wufpacker 03/10/2012 at 10:56 AM #

    ESPN really likes Gott. They’re still featuring his plea to Lunardi to “get us out of those columns” on this morning’s SC. I hope they mic him up again today for pregame and show it. Can only help with recruits to see that kind of excitement in the locker room.

  14. StateFans 03/10/2012 at 10:57 AM #

    I agree with wufpup as it relates to how our road/neutral record isn’t getting enough play from the average media. I also think that our OOC SOS (#23 in America) isn’t getting enough play. Those two items are very important.

    Also, if St. Bonaventure wins their championship, the # of games and wins w we would have against other NCAA Tournament teams will look better. (Don’t forget UNC-A)

  15. StateFans 03/10/2012 at 10:57 AM #

    Most recent news out of Atlanta is that Henson walked out of breakfast with the team with nothing on his wrist and looking fine. That doesn’t mean anything.

  16. mak4dpak 03/10/2012 at 10:59 AM #

    Again, watching ESPN, they feel we are in the NCAA tourney. But there will be no doubts with a win over the holes. Make us proud today! If not a win, a great competitive game, though I am not sure my ticker can take another game like yesterday. If it is, we better make our free throws. May the holes have one of their worst games of the year! And I say that with all deepest sincerity. Go Pack!

  17. BJD95 03/10/2012 at 11:08 AM #

    I will hit the road or the airport tomorrow am if we somehow win today.

  18. WTNY 03/10/2012 at 11:11 AM #

    Anyone have a current RPI figure for State? Any idea how much it climbs simply by playing UNC-Ch today?

  19. Sweet jumper 03/10/2012 at 11:28 AM #

    Superstitious post:

    Channel V boys–survive and advance.

  20. chriscgray 03/10/2012 at 11:34 AM #

    I honestly think the Pack are going to play excellent basketball today. We have everything to gain in this game and I feel they can play relaxed with much of the pressure off after yesterday’s victory. State can go out with some confiedence against UNC even with a loss I see State playing very competitive.

  21. wolfie91 03/10/2012 at 11:36 AM #

    I read we are at 49 and UVA and Miami dropped out of the top 50, leaving us with just 1 Top 50 win (Texas).

  22. Wufpacker 03/10/2012 at 11:38 AM #

    According to NCAA RPI stats, we are currently #49. Texas right in front of us at #48. UVa dropped to #52, Miami to #59.

  23. Sweet jumper 03/10/2012 at 11:42 AM #

    I personally do not subscribe to the conspiracy theories, but if I did, the Holes would be instructed to lay down for the Pack today so the ACC would secure another NCAA bid and bring in more revenue and exposure for the conference.

    Pack, nobody is going to lay down for you today, so just go out there and kick some whining butt. Henson or no Henson–just win baby.

  24. imstillhere 03/10/2012 at 12:36 PM #

    Does anyone think we realistically have a chance to win today? And I hate to rain on everyone’s parade but how relevant are we really when we are just playing to make the dance and the holes are playing to keep their #1 seed.

  25. dallas-pack 03/10/2012 at 12:45 PM #

    Valvano’s birthday today (03/10/46) – beat the Heels for Jimmy V!

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