To preview today's ACC Men's Basketball Tournament first round matchup between the Eagles and the 5th seeded N.C. State Wolfpack, we welcome Akula Wolf from Backing The Pack to the blog for Five Good Minutes.
BC Interruption: N.C. State has had a rather streaky season in conference play -- 1 W, 1 L, 3 W, 2 L, 3 W, 4 L, 2 W. Was this simply a product of when certain teams fell on the schedule, or is there more to it than that?
Backing The Pack: The losing streaks correspond to the difficult stretches of the schedule, and I don't think there's anything to it beyond that. NC State lost to UVA and UNC back-to-back, then Duke-FSU-UNC.
BCI: The Eagles lost by 14 down in Raleigh and then followed that up with a 5 point loss in Chestnut Hill. What, if anything, did you notice that was different about the two games? If BC is to pull the upset, what do they have to do to beat N.C. State?
BTP: Boston College was much better on the defensive glass in the second game, and that coupled with some poor shooting by NC State helped keep the Eagles in the game despite another blah effort at the offensive end. If they're going to pull off the upset, the good defensive rebounding needs to continue. The obvious thing in BC's case is of course the three-point shooting, and they'll certainly need to improve in that area to win the game.
BCI: We are very familiar with the pitfalls of judging a first-year coach's performance with the former coach's players. And while it's probably far too soon to evaluate, how have the Wolfpack faithful received Mark Gottfried? Do you get the sense is finally heading in the right direction again?
BTP: I think everyone has been encouraged by the changes made by Gottfried at this point, which is to say that the players are practicing on a regular basis and appear to run some form of offense. He's also recruiting well right off the bat, which is always a good way to earn favor with a fanbase. There's definitely been progress--Sidney Lowe would have found a way to go 6-10 in the ACC this year--and I'm encouraged about the future for the first time in a while.
BCI: N.C. State (20-11, 9-7 ACC) has a near identical record to BC last year, but has come up small when facing ranked opponents (0-7 vs. the Top 25). As you know, the Eagles bubble burst last season as BC earned a 1 seed in the NIT. So what does the Wolfpack have to do to get into the Field of 68 this year?
BTP: A minimum of two wins in the ACC tournament, probably. That would give the Pack a win over Virginia and a season split with the Cavaliers, to go with their 2-0 record against Miami. If we were somehow able to get by UNC on Saturday, that would be the clincher.
BCI: Slightly off-topic. After Syracuse and Pitt join the conference, where you holding the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament? Should the event rotate locations or should we settle on one location? Oh, and preferred format, please.
BTP: I'd hold it in Greensboro forever simply because it would annoy the hell out of Jim Boeheim, but that's probably not feasible. I like keeping the tournament in North Carolina most years because it has so much history there (there are some selfish reasons involved with this too). I think a tournament at Madison Square Garden would be a lot of fun, I just don't know how doable that's gonna be. Anyway, if it were up to me, the ACC Tournament would rotate between Charlotte, Greensboro, and Atlantic City (poker, anyone?) with a trip to MSG thrown in there if possible.
As for the format, I hadn't given that any thought before reading this question. I'm not a big fan of excluding teams from the conference tournament, but the ACC could keep the current format by eliminating the 13th and 14th place teams. (That's what the A-10 does.)
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
BTP: I'll take NC State one more time. By a dozen, let's say.
For more on the N.C. State Wolfpack, check out Backing The Pack.