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This Four-Game Stretch Should Tell Us What We Need To Know

January 25, 2011

At Clemson.

At North Carolina.

Home against Virginia Tech.

At Duke.

This stretch of the schedule will answer many questions about this team. Namely,

1. Can this team win on the road? Of the blemishes on Sidney Lowe's overall coaching record, his road record in the Atlantic Coast Conference is one of the most glaring: Only six road wins in five years. If State can muster two road wins out of this bunch of three, it'll be a huge statement in Lowe's favor.

2. Can this team beat UNC in Chapel Hill? Clemson nearly did it last week. Other teams have lately, and the Heels aren't nearly what they were under the first five years of Roy's coaching tenure. But when the Tar Heels were down last season and headed to the NIT, State still couldn't close the deal in the Dean Dome (not to mention they squandered away the game in the RBC Center). Lowe has one win against the Heels in five years and none in Chapel Hill. In fact, the Wolfpack haven't won in Chapel Hill by a team not coached by Matt Doherty since the 1997 shooting explosion from CC Harrison. A win against an erratic and vulnerable UNC team might be the best thing Lowe can do in one game to renew some confidence among State fans in his abilities.

3. Can this team win a 50/50 game? I look at both the Clemson game and Virginia Tech games as 50/50 games. Games where State has a legitimate shot to win IF it merely plays sound, fundamental basketball from tip to the final whistle. Win those two games and it'll, again, look great for Lowe's future. Over the previous four years, State's record in games that could be considered "pick 'ems" is not that solid.

And of course the what-if questions:

4. What if this team goes 0-4 over this stretch? That's it for Lowe. Period. It'd be all over but the shouting.

5. What if this team goes 4-0 over this stretch? Not happening. Next question.

6. OK, what if this team goes 3-1 over this stretch, only losing to Duke in Cameron? State exits this stretch 5-4 and in the upper half of the ACC. The road ahead looks somewhat manageable with a road trip to Wake Forest and four of the following six games at home. The team's riding a hot hand, and the Fire Lowe! talk is squelched for a bit. It won't be easy, but there's a legitimate shot of the team finishing the closing stretch 5-2 to end the year 10-6 and put itself into the NCAA tournament discussion.

7. What if this team goes 2-2 or 1-3? Things are still up in the air, but it doesn't look good. Winning only one from this bunch gives State six losses, meaning the Pack must win out to get to 10-6, the bare minimum record this team can have and expect to get an at-large invite to the tournament. Two-and-two gives the team all of one game they can lose following Duke, with a home game against UNC and road trips against Maryland and Virginia left.

Where this team is right now, this four-game stretch is the rickety swinging bridge between now and the seven-game stretch that could be Lowe's shot at redemption. If this bridge collapses underneath them, there's no chance at clearing that gap and make those seven games relevant.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. packalum08 permalink
    January 25, 2011 1:34 pm

    Great analysis. For those of us that don’t have a ton of time to break things down and analyze them ourselves, this is a fantastic read.

    • admin permalink
      January 25, 2011 2:56 pm

      packalum08: Seriously, that’s the best compliment a blogger/writer can receive. Thank you for it very much! (P.S. Tell your friends!)

  2. jdmann31 permalink
    January 25, 2011 4:59 pm

    Great analysis.

    2-2 should be expected, anything less is a failure. If Sid can keep the team playing the way it has the last 3 halves (well, maybe not losing the 17pt lead part) then 2 wins is doable, and 3 possible. However, if Sid can beat UNC in Chapel Hill I’d be happy if thats the only win.

    • admin permalink
      January 25, 2011 5:09 pm

      Thanks for visiting!

      Yeah, I think a lot of fans would love a win over UNC in Chapel Hill. It wouldn’t save his job on its own merit, but it sure would salve a lot of open wounds.

  3. ncsumi permalink
    January 25, 2011 6:38 pm

    Great breakdown. I visit daily but never comment ’cause I disagree with myself so much. I would waste all your webpaper with my incessant internal squabbling.

    • admin permalink
      January 26, 2011 2:20 am

      Incessant squabbling is what the internet was built for!

  4. February 3, 2011 9:58 am

    God, what a depressing season.

    • admin permalink
      February 4, 2011 11:30 am

      Yeah. Almost as depressing as the fact “Instead Of Texting” is on extended hiatus. Dude, get after it!

  5. Brian permalink
    February 3, 2011 7:38 pm

    Looks like you’re right here. So far we’ve got, loss, loss, loss. Not looking good for Sidney.

    • admin permalink
      February 4, 2011 11:28 am

      Nope, not looking good at all.

      Thanks for stopping by, and take heart in the fact that our leadership structure is 10,000% better than it was in 2006.

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