Tuesday, February 28, 2012

N.C. State's tournament hopes flickering, but alive

What N.C. State needs the most to revive its fading NCAA tournament hopes is to do what it hasn't since Feb. 9 — win a basketball game.

The Wolfpack, 18-11 overall and 7-7 in the ACC, has lost four straight games. The possibility of reaching its preseason goal of 11 conference wins is gone, with only Wednesday's home game with Miami and a trip to Virginia Tech on Sunday, left on the schedule. But the Pack's flickering tournament hopes are still alive as coach Mark Gottfried pointed out on Monday.

"It's not smoke and mirrors," Gottfried said Monday on the ACC's weekly teleconference when asked about the NCAA tournament. "It's a real simple equation. … You have to earn your way in by winning games."

N.C. State hasn't won since beating Georgia Tech on Feb. 9 and since the last time it saw Miami on Jan. 22, it's just 3-6 in ACC play, with Saturday's 72-69 overtime loss at Clemson as the latest, but not final dagger.

The Wolfpack gets a chance to improve its record against the top 50 teams of the RPI with Wednesday's home finale against the Hurricanes. State's 78-73 win at Miami on Jan. 22 qualifies as its best of the season, according to the RPI, one of the measures the selection committee uses to determine which at-large teams make the field of 68.

Miami is No. 48 in the RPI after Sunday's win over Florida State. The Hurricanes are the only team in the top 50 that the Pack, at No. 72, has beaten. State is 1-8 vs. the top 50 and 4-8 against the top 100.
Miami, which has signature wins over Duke, No. 3 in the RPI and FSU, No. 26, but is 2-7 against the top 50 and 3-9 against the top 100.

The two teams have gone in opposite directions since they met in a half-empty BankUnited Center in January. State was 4-1 in the ACC after the road win and Miami was 1-3.

The Pack is 3-6 since then and the Canes are 7-3, despite playing Sunday's rivalry game without forward Reggie Johnson, who has been suspended by the NCAA because one of his family members accepted improper benefits from a former assistant coach.

Miami coach Jim Larranaga said Monday there was no update on Johnson's status.

"He has been very upbeat," Larranaga said. "Hopefully we'll get Reggie back soon."

Johnson is one of the main reasons for Miami's improvement, Gottfried said. The big forward from Winston-Salem missed the first nine games of the season recovering from a knee injury. Gottfried also attributed Miami's improved play to forward Kenny Kadji, who is averaging 15.5 points in ACC play, and emergence of freshman point guard Shane Larkin.

"They have played very well since our game," Gottfried said.

-- J.P. Giglio


Anonymous said...

This would still be a very successful year for NCSU! Congrats!! You made it to the N.I.T. Lol...

Anonymous said...

As a Pack fan all I can say is "Go DUKE" on Saturday...put the Cheats in their place yet again. We'll handle the football side.

pay per head software said...

I really hope that the next NCAA tournament will be great and much more exciting than the last one which was not that good