NC State ended Syracuse’s ACC season in 2014 by defeating the Orange in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals in the Friday night session in Greensboro. So, it was fitting that the Wolfpack send the Orange home for the year with a loss again in 2015 as the Pack pulled away behind a 27-2 run and all certainly secured a fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid with a 71-57 win over Syracuse. Mark Gottfried has now compiled a very impressive 6-3 record against Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame & Louisville since the former Big East powers joined the ACC.
While people will talk about Ralston Turner’s shooting and Cat Barber’s continued excellent play at the point guard position on Saturday — make no mistake that the difference in this team’s recent success (winning 5 of our last 6) from early season performance is that this team suddenly is interested in playing defense with intensity. (Of course, Cat Barber’s renewed confidence and strong play has to be mentioned as well). Credit also has to go to Coach Gottfried for settling on what looks to be an optimal substitution pattern with his depth. Saturday’s game was made a little trickier as Gottfried appropriately gave senior Dez Lee some minutes in the first half that might have otherwise gone to a Martin; but, he seems to understand what he wants to do and when & how.
The Wolfpack has secured the 7th seed of the ACC Tournament and will play the #10 seeded, Pittsburgh Panthers, at 7pm on Wednesday night. The winner will play Duke at the same time on Thursday night. Pitt has been in a tailspin over the last couple of weeks and has put itself in a position where it may need to win the entire ACC Tournament to earn an NCAA Tournament berth. Interestingly, NC State has won at least two ACC Tournament games in each of Coach Gottfried’s first three seasons as NC State’s coach.
State finishes the season 19-11 overall and tied for 6th at 10-8 in the ACC having competed against one of the 5 toughest schedules in America as ranked by the RPI. This is a very successful season for a team picked to finish 9th in the ACC and lost the conference’s play of the year, TJ Warren. Gottfried is now 38-31 in ACC play with three winning seasons and one .500 season.
Saturday’s game was fun to watch, so these highlights will be a lot more fun than those Clemson ones from earlier in the week:
Joe Giglio talks…so I listen: