Head-scratching mistakes leaving NCSU outside of the NCAA tournament picture


Bluntly speaking, NC State is not in a strong position to consider itself in the NCAA tournament hunt. A loaded schedule down the stretch that presents ample opportunities for significant wins is the one glimmer of hope.

Joe Lunardi of ESPN has Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami all among his last eight teams in. Wake Forest is among the first four out in those projections.

All four of those teams are on NCSU’s slate of final eight games. The remaining schedule also includes likely high seeds UNC, Virginia and Florida State, and tournament lock Notre Dame.

In other words, each of NCSU’s opponents between now and the ACC Tournament are in the conversation for the Big Dance. Seven of the eight, according to Lunardi, are in. The eighth (Wake Forest) literally the first team out.

If NC State wins more than it loses in that stretch, the Pack could sneak back into the bubble.

That’s because despite being 3-7 in the ACC, NCSU may not be that far removed from the bubble watch. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has NC State among his first four out (third of the four). USA Today’s Shelby Mast has the Pack on the list of “others considered for at-large bids.”

The question, though, is can Mark Gottfried’s squad turn it around? The Wolfpack has not exactly inspired in lopsided road losses at Miami, UNC and Louisville. It also suffered a tough defeat at Boston College. Then there is the issue of its defense that is giving up, at times, inexcusable numbers.

However, a simple issue, such as free-throw shooting, could have turned the result in close home losses to Wake Forest and Syracuse. Had NC State won those two contests, it would be sitting at a 5-5 record in the league and perhaps in a stronger position among bracketologists.