Lamentations from the Outside Looking In
After a difficult and frustrating loss to Miami FL, the Wolfpack is 10-4 (0-1), and has played a schedule so unimpressive as to land the team at #119 in the latest RPI ratings. But hey, it's just early January--no reason to worry, right? Eh ... well, considering that the Wolfpack ranked 41 in the RPI on this date in 2004, I'd say there's plenty of reason to worry.
NC State has just a single win over teams in the RPI top-100 (UL-Lafayette) and must deal with losses to St. John's (#156) and Miami (#86). The ACC's depth is both a blessing and a curse at this point--the Pack needs quality win oppportunities and the conference offers plenty, but with so many good teams in the ACC the Pack will be hard pressed to win nine games. The Wolfpack needs to collect enough quality wins to make its RPI respectable (say, in the 45-55 range) if it thinks 8-8 in the ACC is going to be enough to reach the NCAAs.
Quite frankly, I don't like NC State's chances.
The signs indicate that the team just isn't all that good. Last season, for instance, we took care of lesser teams whenever we shot a good percentage from the field, and usually did so rather comfortably. Against Miami, we shot 47% and still lost to one of the 2-3 worst teams in the league. Not the best of omens.
Fatigued, sick, injured, whatever--NC State has been afflicted with problems at a critical time, and the team may never recover. If you're no match for West Freakin' Virginia on your home floor, that doesn't particularly bode well, either.
Last season NC State confidently defeated the likes of Duke, Wake, Maryland and GT, but I can see already that those wins aren't going to come nearly so easily in 2005. If they come at all.