This is how N.C. State goes into the NCAA tournament: A team that tied for fourth place in the ACC that got to the conference tournament semifinals but was absolutely overmatched there 81-71 by a better Miami team. The Wolfpack, at 24-10, will probably settle at about a No. 7 or 8 seed when their name is called Sunday.
That sums up the Wolfpack's season. There's nothing wrong with that body of work. Nothing particularly exciting about it either. Certainly a pretty big disappointment given that N.C. State was the hot team of the offseason and expected to be a heck of a lot better than the meh product it put on the floor most of the season.
With C.J. Leslie, Scott Wood, Richard Howell and Lorenzo Brown returning this season and being joined by three McDonald's All Americans, this was the "it" team heading into the 2012-13 season. N.C. State was No. 6 in the AP poll. Really. No. 6. You may have forgotten that, considering N.C. State has been pretty unexciting since the season actually began.
There's probably a lesson in this. N.C. State wasn't particularly great last season. The Wolfpack finished 24-13. And remember, it was so far on the bubble it acted like this when it found out it was in the NCAA tournament:
Then N.C. State beat San Diego State and squeaked out a win against Georgetown in the NCAA tournament and gave Kansas a good game as it lost in the sweet 16. Nice run, but this offseason when a solid team is moving up the polls at a crazy rate following a nice tournament run, remember that the NCAA tournament is a very small sample size. Don't overreact to just a few games, no matter how big those games are.
Again, N.C. State hasn't been bad so far this season. But it hasn't been one of the six best teams in the nation, obviously. Home wins against Duke (without Ryan Kelly) and North Carolina are the highlights. Defense has kept N.C. State from being special. It came into Saturday's game ranked 110th in KenPom.com's defensive efficiency ranking. Every team Mark Gottfried has put on the floor in his head coaching career has been mediocre to bad on defense. That's not a coincidence after a while. There's way too much talent on the roster for N.C. State to be a No. 7 or 8 seed. A lot of that falls on Gottfried.
The Wolfpack still have the ability to make a nice run in the NCAA tournament, even with what will probably be a middling seed. Let's just not overreact again if they do.
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