State Firmly Ranked in “Ridiculously Early” 2015/16 Top 25 Hoops Polls

Expectations are going up — way up — for Wolfpack hoops next season.

It seems as soon as the last notes of “One Shining Moment” are played in the NCAA Tournament, pundits start releasing their “way too early” polls for next season.  Usually, the top of their lists features blue-blood programs and others that have performed exceptionally well in the past couple of years, and this year is not exception.

ESPN has Kentucky as #1, Virginia as #2 and their favorite program, UNC as #3.  Those aren’t bad selections, really, as Kentucky will have most of the 2016 NBA Draft’s lottery pick in for their mandatory one-and-done year, while UNC and Virginia will also have their teams return essentially intact.  But this year’s crop of early favorites included NC State as well, albeit as a mid-teens ranked squad.

ESPN:  17. NC State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack revealed their true talent in March, upending No. 1 seed Villanova on the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. A week later, they pushed Louisville — whom NC State beat on the road in February, just before losing to Boston College, which pretty much sums it up — to the brink. Now the fun really begins. Ralston Turner is the only significant departure to account for. Everyone else is back. The biggest name involved is Trevor Lacey, who would be a nightmare to guard even if he weren’t playing alongside the insanely fast, appropriately nicknamed Anthony “Cat” Barber. Freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu‘s bullying performance against Villanova prefaced greater things to come; fellow big man Beejay Anya is one of the nation’s best shot-blockers. If these guys can just guard consistently — something Mark Gottfried’s teams almost never do — they’re scary-good. Just ask Villanova.


CBS Sports has the same top 3 in a different order.  UVA is #1, UNC is #2 and Kentucky a #3.


  • Notable players definitely gone: Ralston Turner
  • Others expected to leave: None
  • Notable players expected to return: Cat Barber, Trevor Lacey, Kyle Washington, Abdul-Malik Abu, BeeJay Anya, Cody Martin, Caleb Martin, Lennard Freeman
  • Others expected to join the roster: Terry Henderson

Why the Wolfpack are ranked here: Remember that talented N.C. State team that eliminated Villanova from the NCAA Tournament? Most of the best pieces from that roster should be back — including Cat Barber.

SB Nation is a lot higher on the Pack.  They have UNC and UVA as their one and two, but NC State as a Top 10 squad:

10. N.C. State Wolfpack

2014-15 Record: 22-14

2014-15 Finish: Sweet 16

Potential was never an issue for a 2014-15 N.C. State team which notched wins over Duke, Villanova, North Carolina and Louisville. Finding consistency will be the key next season for Mark Gottfried, who returns every key contributor from his Sweet 16 squad outside of Ralston Turner.
Finally, USA Today, who has the usual suspects at the top, but doesn’t like NC State quite as much as does everyone else:

22. N.C. State (22-14, 10-8): There’s a chance Cat Barber turns pro, but if he comes back the late-peaking Wolfpack have a chance to pose a bigger threat early in 2015-16. Barber and Trevor Lacey will make for a fearsome backcourt tandem, and N.C. State’s frontcourt should be much better thanks to a year of maturity. If coach Mark Gottfried’s cast plays at the level it did in the NCAAs — knocking off top-seeded Villanova to reach the Sweet 16 — they’ll be a darkhorse contender in the ACC.

Recruiting grade: Incomplete. The Pack has three scholarships open and no commitments. This could change quickly, especially if they can get Ingram or Malik Newman.

Me, I am going to take these lists with a grain of salt that only confirms what I’ve said for some time: NC State should be a very good team next year so long as it returns its key players. The team’s schedule has not been released yet, but it surely promises to be a challenging one both in and out of the conference, and that alone will make the roller coaster ride that is Wolfpack basketball another year of great highs and great lows.

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    The problem with stats is you are diving while looking to past results. If a steady state they are an excellent predictor of new results but I submit the Pack BB experience has finally broken out of that steady state. Don’t get me wrong as I feel stats from previous years are important but I do see some changes that foretell good things.


    I have been reading this blog for a long time, since sometime in the Sendek administration. I do not recall such a general positive attitude. And not just in basketball.

    And I lay it all at the feet of Ms Yow. I never imagined that she would have such an impact. She’s done exactly what she promised, to accept nothing but excellence and to establish a new trajectory for Wolfpack athletics.

    Her job will never be ‘finished’, but we’re seeing good stuff happening. I don’t keep up with all of the various sports within her purview, but the revenue sports and the others I hear about all seem to be trending in the right direction.

    Good days for Wolfpack athletics. Let’s enjoy it!


    I wish it was as easy as “just guard consistently.” Shot selection and running a sound offense on a consistent basis is, I think, an even bigger impediment to success. The last 10 minutes of the Louisville game, jacking up forced 1-on-5 shots and standing around the perimeter waiting on the defense to take a smoke break was emblematic of our lapses all season, if not all of the past quarter century.

    There’s no question Gottfried is the best coach we’ve had since they killed Valvano. He can recruit just fine. We’ll see if he can step it up on the consistency scale, which is what is required if you’re going to run with the likes of Izzo and K and Pitino come tournament time.


    There’s a lot of synergy from having the right people at the right time.

    Gottfried isn’t a perfect coach by any means, but he seems to me like he belongs here. He gets what NC State is and what it isn’t, and how to best leverage that in the larger college hoops world. Definitely haven’t had that since V, not even close. And he certainly fits this group of players we have right now, which I really, really like.

    Doeren was exactly the right guy to take over the barren moonscape left behind in the wake of Amato followed by TOB’s early retirement. He was a damned miracle gifted to us by the universe.


    Next year could be the peak of Gott’s career.

    Lacey will be gone and Cat goes pro. No recruits in sight for next year (except 2 longshot one-and-dones).

    Enjoy 2015/16 fellas it should be a good ride but don’t get used to it.

    No doubt next year will be pivotal in terms of Gottfried’s career trajectory. He admitted while at Alabama he got lazy with recruiting after Bama had achieved some success. I have no problem with the lack of recruits this year, but there will be some major red flags if that carries into the 2016 class. We are considered a solid leader for Dennis Smith which would be a very good get, but there is a lot of time and a lot of schools will be coming at him hard, so we’ll see.


    Agree Beej, we have two head coaches in the money programs that are not only great fits for their respective programs but they’re great fits for the University and fan base(s).

    There’s plenty of negatives and/or criticisms that could be said about or used against Gottfried from his past and perhaps time here, but he has embraced all the challenges of being the NC State head basketball coach in its current state (post Lowe + Sendek; media narrative run amok, among many other things). I don’t mean to get too ‘sunshine squad-y’, but Gottfried has faced those challenges head on and embraced everything about being the State coach. He deserves a ton of credit and respect in this area, imo. Plus two Sweet 16’s in four seasons ain’t too bad, either.

    Doeren may be short on experience, but I think he has already shown himself to be easy to relate with for a lot of State fans. I know it’s catering to the fans when he speaks publicly about it, but I believe his high work ethic, no BS persona is genuine. I’d say the collective State fan base knows BS when it’s said or displayed rather well; plenty of experience having it shoved down our throats from many different angles. Doeren doesn’t seem to abide it – cool. Season two showed that the program could have some real potential for the future.


    I think Doeren’s formula is pretty simple. He just outworks everybody. Whether it’s recruiting, scouting, attention to detail, social responsibility, public relations, or any other aspect of a college coaches job. The guy is relentless.


    “I think Doeren’s formula is pretty simple. He just outworks everybody. Whether it’s recruiting, scouting, attention to detail, social responsibility, public relations, or any other aspect of a college coaches job. The guy is relentless.”

    Exactly right.
    DD calls us a blue collar, hands in the dirt, hard working team. That’s exactly what we want.

    I like both DD and Gott, but I think DD is an even better fit. (nothing negative intended at all about Gott) DD said it himself, he and NC State are a perfect match, that’s why he took the job.


    I’d say the collective State fan base knows BS when it’s said or displayed rather well; plenty of experience having it shoved down our throats from many different angles.

    This was a bridge too far.

    There is plenty of evidence that there is a segment of the State fan base that will always ignore whatever is required to maintain their own, distorted world view. Even Sidney Lowe had adherent supporters long past most had given up hope.


    Fair point, Va. People gonna people.


    I would also posit that the Doeren persona wouldn’t wear well (long-term) for hoops, nor would Gottfried’s work particularly well for football. Different skillsets required, at least at NC State. I mean, there’s a reason why we point to V and Sheridan as the modern era gold standards.


    The stats concluded Gottv at NC State was nothing more than a first weekend coach. Yet he made the Sweet 16 twice in four year years and beat the #1 seed to do it this year. Stats can be manipulated to support the conclusion one wants to make. Bottom line results can’t be dismissed so easily.

    And the results are that you can’t expect much better than what you’ve seen so far if we don’t improve defensively.

    Look at the coaches who make the final 4. When it comes to schools from the power conferences – there aren’t a lot of coaches who have been coaching at that level long who are “strangers” to the final 4.

    History has an annoying tendency to repeat itself. You can flippantly dismiss jigs’ #s as sorcery, but its pretty clear cut AND common sense – if you are going to win 6 games in a row vs. Good competition – you need to be good on both sides of the ball and a little lucky.

    This doesn’t mean gott won’t ever make it to a final 4. He had shown the ability to get the talented players needed to advance in the tourney. However, if we want more than bubble seeds and sweet 16, we need to improve our d, without suffering a lapse in our offense.


    Agreed improved defense is imperative but I think the team did show significant improvement in the last month of the regular season and during the NCAA tourney. To go further all around play has to take another step forward. That I think is very possible next year. Later years might show some regression if recruiting falls (not in the number of burger boys rather in finding the proper pieces to fit with the rest of the team).


    Tractor – that’s true….but I would rather keep these guys together. A great season next year and I can handle missing the tourney while we rebuild.

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