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Wuffie Woes: When NC State Struggles

This year could be especially bad.

NCAA Basketball: N.C. State at Duke
Jan 15, 2022; Durham, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack guard Dereon Seabron (1) drives to the basket as Duke Blue Devils forward Theo John (12) defends during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium. 
Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Few of us like to be overlooked. Sometimes, though, failure to attract attention has its advantages.

Consider, for instance, a season like this one at NC State, which has attracted scant notice despite closing in on a dubious record.

It’s actually quite remarkable how little attention the current Wolfpack’s struggles have garnered, even from their hometown newspaper. Apparently the team’s record speaks for itself.

Kevin Keatts’ club ended a 6-game losing streak – matching FSU and Louisville for the league’s longest this season — with a decisive victory at Atlanta the other night against struggling Georgia Tech. That raised the 2022 group’s record to 11-16 record, still one of the worst in the program’s ACC history.

The Pack has an excellent chance of surpassing Mark Gottfried’s 2016 and 2017 squads, which lost 17 each.

Lose twice more and they’re in rarefied territory.

NC State has four games left in the regular season, hosting BC and UNC before visiting Wake and FSU. (Oddly, 3 of the Pack’s 4 ACC wins came on the road.) Then comes the ACC Tournament.

Now, the ’22 NC State squad is not lacking in talent or competitive spirit.

Freshman guard Terquavion Smith and Dereon Seabron, a 6-7 sophomore who’ll likely earn some All-ACC recognition, have been standouts.

The slender Smith leads the league in made threes (79, with 6 at Tech) and in official 3-point accuracy (.373). Seabron, dynamic attacking the basket, is second to Carolina’s Armando Bacot among league rebounders at 8.8 per game.

Both underclassmen are among the ACC’s scoring leaders at 17.9 for Seabron and 15.6 for Smith.

Yet the Wolfpack’s youth is lamented by Keatts, as if it’s a novel affliction rather than a fact of life for high-level programs in the modern game.

There have been a few close losses, but not an inordinate number. Keatts defenders also are quick to attribute the Pack’s nosedive from last year’s ninth-place ACC finish and 14-11 record, and its divergence from its projected 2022 finish, to the preseason loss of shotblocking center Manny Bates.

That’s fair, up to a point. Yet other teams (think Florida State, for one) battle on despite a similar or greater injury burden and have avoided a losing record or falling to the bottom echelon of the ACC.

(Barring NCAA Or NIT Title, 2022 Minimum Of 17 Losses Assured)
Season ACC Finish ACC W-L Coach Years Into
19 1967 Last 2-12 Sloan 1st of 14
19 1993 Last, tie 2-14 Robinson 3rd of 6
19 1994 Last 5-9 Robinson 4th of 6
18 1992 7th 6-10 Robinson 5th of 6
17 2016 13th 5-13 Gottfried 5th of 6
17 2017 13th, tie 4-14 Gottfried 6th of 6