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Looking Towards ACC Play

January 8, 2012

With the non-conference schedule winding down and the ACC slate beginning this weekend, it's a good time to look at what the Wolfpack has done so far this year.

Considering this team has learned an entire new offense and is still adjusting to the new coaching staff, I'd say they're off to a good start. State hasn’t lost a game they shouldn’t have but they also haven't been able to close games against quality opponents.

The first official RPI rankings of the season came out on Monday and the Pack's rank stood at 49, 4th highest in the ACC.  Here's a breakdown of the teams that State has played so far and how they ranked in the RPI as of Monday.

Wins:

Team RPI
Texas 77
St. Bonaventure 84
Elon                   116
UNC-Asheville 138
Princeton     147
Western Carolina 162
Northeastern   173
Campbell         174
NC Central        222
Morehead State 241
Delaware State 299

 

Losses:

Team RPI
Syracuse                  1
Indiana                     15
Vanderbilt               32
Stanford                   81

 

(If you'd rather look at updated RPI rankings check StatSheet)

These numbers don't mean much right now. Most of them will be very different come March, but they at least give you a general idea of how State's resume is shaping up so far.  The Pack’s only good non-conference win is the 18-point comeback against Texas in the Legends Classic.  A distant second would be the St. Bonaventure game.  State missed prime opportunities for quality wins in squandering leads against Indiana in the ACC/B1G challenge and at Stanford.  Our 2-4 record against the RPI top 100 could easily be 3-3 or even 4-2.

The ACC is down this year, to say the least.  The league boasts losses to powerhouses such as Coastal Carolina, Wofford and Hawaii, just to name a few.  State drew a pretty soft conference schedule, playing the three bottom teams of Georgia Tech, Wake and Boston College twice each.  The Pack also has the luxury of playing two of the tougher teams, Florida State and Virginia, at home in the only times they'll face off against one another.  This softer schedule should give us a good chance at finishing higher in the league.  But as weak as the ACC is, the conference will be lucky to get four or five teams into the big dance this year.

State's ACC games can be broken down into three categories: soft games, swing games and tough games. Obviously you should win all of your soft games. The swing games are the toss ups that could make or break the season, and the tough games are going to be hard to win.

Soft Games:
Maryland             
Georgia Tech
@ Wake Forest
Boston College
@ Boston College
Wake Forest
@ Georgia Tech
@ Clemson

 

Swing Games:
@ Miami
Virginia
Florida State
Miami
Virginia Tech

 

Tough Games:
Carolina
@ Duke
@ Carolina

 

Now I'm not saying we win all 8 of those soft games but we SHOULD win them.  If we can do that and win a few of the swing games or even steal one from Duke or Carolina we could finish in the top third of the league and be in good position to make the tournament.   In my opinion with where State is now, they will need at least 10, maybe 11, conference wins with a good showing in Atlanta at the ACC Tournament to get a bid to the NCAAs.  Coach Gottfried agrees, stating the goal for this team was winning 11 conference games when he spoke to the media Friday.

I believe making the NCAA Tournament is doable for this team.  Doing so would be a gigantic step in the right direction after what has happened the last five seasons.

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