ACC Basketball Tournament - North Carolina State v North Carolina

NC State’s loss sends it to bubble purgatory


NC State probably got hosed.

CJ Leslie, who was in the middle of having a great game for the Wolfpack, fouled out with eight minutes left after two questionable calls in a row. NC State was down five at the time, but they managed to scrap all the way back to tie the game in the final minute. But with ten seconds left in the game, Kendall Marshall scored the game-winning basket after was looked suspiciously close to being a charge went uncalled. NC State still had a chance, and they nearly took advantage of it, completing a length of the court pass to Richard Howell. But Howell never got a shot off as it looked like he may have been fouled on the catch.

Again, no call. No. 4 UNC wins, 69-67.

And like I said, NC State probably got hosed, which becomes a significant talking point considering that a win likely would have locked up the Wolfpack’s bid to the NCAA Tournament. As it is, NC State has about as bubblicious of a resume as you are going to come across. Their good wins are all against bubble teams — Virginia, Miami twice, Texas — and they finished 9-7 in the ACC with a handful of ugly (read: Clemson) losses.

To be fair, not all of the blame falls on the officials. The NC State coaching staff was completely unaware that Leslie had picked up his fourth foul, which is why he picked up his fifth so quickly without getting pulled. To his credit, Gottfried accepted the blame.

“Miscommunication by our staff. That’s our responsibility,” Gottfried said. “The two fouls happened so fast. Boom, boom.”

(UPDATE: As a couple of commenters have noted, NC State did have some killer turnovers late in the game, including one unforced error that led to Marshall’s game-winning bucket. But does that mean we should over look the fact that NC State found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle late in the game? I say no.)

So, yeah, they needed this win. And they didn’t get it.

Which means that the rest of this weekend is going to entail quite a few hail mary’s for the good folks of Raleigh.

NC State’s attention now turns to the rest of the bubble teams in action. Memphis won and probably ended Marshall’s bid for a trip to the dance, which means that the Wolfpack will now be anxiously awaiting the outcomes of Vanderbilt-Ole Miss, Long Beach State-UC-Santa Barbara and the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

There are some bid thieves out there still, and NC State is primed to get their pocket-picked.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

POSTERIZED: Wyoming’s Josh Adams takes flight

Josh Adams
Associated Press
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Not only is Wyoming senior guard Josh Adams the lone returning starter from a team that won the Mountain West tournament last season, but he’s also one of college basketball’s best dunkers. And if anyone may have forgotten about his jumping ability, Adams put it on display Saturday during the Cowboys’ win over Montana State.

After splitting two Montana State players at the top of the key Adams attacked the basket, dunking with two hands over a late-arriving help-side defender. If you’re going to rotate over, have to do it quicker than that.

Video credit: Wyoming Athletics

Defensive progress will determine No. 4 Iowa State’s ceiling

Monte Morris
Associated Press
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Even with the coaching change from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, No. 4 Iowa State remains one of the nation’s best offensive teams. Given their skills on that end of the floor many teams find it tough to go score for score with the Cyclones, and that’s what happened to Illinois in Iowa State’s 84-73 win in the Emerald Coast Classic title game.

Georges Niang scored 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds, with Monté Morris adding 20, nine rebounds and six assists and Abdel Nader 18 points as the Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the season. The three-pointers weren’t falling in the second half, as Iowa State shot 0-f0r-12, but they shot 19-for-24 inside of the arc to pull away from a team that lost big man Mike Thorne Jr. late in the first half to a left knee injury.

Illinois’ loss of size in the paint opened things up offensively for Iowa State, and the Cyclones took advantage. But where this group grabbed control of the game was on the defensive end of the floor, and that will be the key for a team with Big 12 and national title aspirations.

Nader took on the responsibility of defending Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (20 points) in the second half and did a solid job of keeping the junior wing in check, with that serving as the spark to a 12-2 run that put the game away. There’s no denying that the Cyclones can put points on the board; most of the talent from last season is back and the productivity on that end of the floor hasn’t changed as a result. Niang’s one of the nation’s best forwards, and both Morris (who now ranks among the country’s best point guards) and Nader have taken significant strides in their respective games.

Iowa State will add Deonte Burton in December, giving them another option to call upon. Front court depth is a bit of a concern, as Iowa State can ill afford to lose a Niang or Jameel McKay, but there’s enough on the roster to compensate for that and force mismatches in other areas.

But the biggest question for this group is how effective they can become at stringing together stops. Illinois certainly had its moments in both halves Saturday night, but Iowa State also showed during the game’s decisive stretch that they can step up defensively. The key now is to do so consistently, and if that occurs the Cyclones can be a threat both within the Big 12 and nationally.