N.C. State's promising season came to a quick thud on Friday in a first round loss to Temple, 76-72. The game capsulized their season in a nutshell as the 8th seed fell to the 9th seed in the East Region.
The Wolfpack were picked to finish first in the Atlantic Coast Conference coming into the season and were near the top in the National Rankings. This was a team who returned the nucleus of a Sweet 16 team, added some top recruits and are littered with potential NBA prospects. Yet they finished tied for 4th in the ACC at 11-7 and suffered a total of 11 losses in the season.
N.C. State looked like a team that was not prepared to play against Temple, scoring just 22 points in the first half and trailed by 16 at the break. They found themselves down by 17 with just over 16 minutes left in the game, when they started a comeback. As the game wound down, Scott Wood found his three point range bringing the Pack to within striking distance. But it was a classic case of digging too large of a hole to get out of as State could never gain the lead in the second half and a season full of promise comes to an end.
The Wolfpack could never live up to the high expectations this season, looked lethargic and even bored at times but could also look stellar at times. Coach Mark Gottfried could never get this team to play consistently and a team full of talent, quite frankly underachieved. Gottfried has to get a lot of the blame for the results as this team never consistently played up to their capabilities.
State may have squandered their best chance in some time to overtake North Carolina and Duke in the ACC as a team full of Seniors and Junior starters this season will look very different next season. There is still talent coming back at N.C. State but this was supposed to be their season and Miami stole their thunder. Opportunities such as this do not come around that often when you are in the Big Four with Carolina and Duke, and if you want to take steps to get on their level, you have to take advantage of seasons like this. Gottfried and the Wolfpack did not.