NC State might go from 'doesn't belong' to popular upset pick after First Four victory

The Dagger

There are plenty of college basketball fans around the country who didn't agree with the selection committee's decision to include a 13-loss North Carolina State team in the NCAA tournament field.

The Wolfpack didn't allow those criticisms to get in their heads and cruised to a 74-59 win over Xavier in a First Four play-in game in Dayton, Ohio on Tuesday. Now the NC State is transitioning from the frowned-upon team that didn't belong to a popular upset pick in a lot of bracket pools across the nation.

The Wolfpack earned a No. 12 seed in the rugged Midwest Region and will face No. 5 seed Saint Louis, which enters the tournament in a slump, losing four of its final five games. Saint Louis looks similar in some ways to the Xavier team NC State just beat. Xavier also lost four of its final five games.

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Hey, a 12 seed seems to beat a five seed almost every year and this 12 seed has one of the nation's most prolific scorers.

T.J. Warren scored 25 points lead the Wolfpack over Xavier. It was his 30th game with at least 20 points this season and his 18th straight. Warren also set a single-season scoring record at NC State in the game. He has scored 843 points this year surpassing the previous mark held by David Thompson, who scored 838 points in the 1974-75 season.

It was a bit of redemption for Warren who scored just four points in 33 minutes in a loss to Temple in last year's tournament.

Warren had plenty of help Tuesday from Tyler Lewis who dished eight assists with just one turnover. The eight assists were one more than Xavier had as a team. Fellow guard Ralston Turner scored 17 points.

Xavier center Matt Stainbrook played through injury to score 19 points, but the Musketeers made just two of 14 3-point attempts and couldn't stop Warren. It was a missed opportunity for Xavier to enjoy the feeling of an NCAA tournament victory on the home court of one of its most bitter rivals, the Dayton Flyers.

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Kyle Ringo is the assistant editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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