N.C. State enhances tournament resume: Assuming there’s an NCAA Tournament

acc tournamentOn a normal day at an ACC Tournament, the talk after a win by a bubble team like N.C. State would be focused on, you know, important stuff, the NCAA Tournament.

Wednesday was not a normal day at the ACC Tournament.

N.C. State got the win it needed to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, defeating Pitt 73-58, and there were numerous questions from the media afterward about the win, what it means in terms of the Big Dance.

But as circumstances would have it, word got out during the presser with N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts and Wolfpack players C.J. Bryce, Devon Daniels and D.J. Funderburk that the NCAA had just announced its iconic tournament will be played beginning next week and for its entirety with no fans allowed in the various buildings, in line with CDC recommendations to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The way postgame pressers are done in these kinds of situations, the players – addressed as student-athletes – get questions from the assembled media first, and then the coach gets his time in front of the squad.

A reporter tried to ask the Pack about the NCAA news; Keatts intervened.

“I don’t think these guys are ready to answer that. I’ll take that if you want me to take it, but I don’t think they’re prepared to answer that question,” Keatts said, along the lines of what we’re all thinking, which is, WTF?

It’s all unprecedented. In the media dining room after the dust had settled, and the ACC had tweeted a statement about how fans would be allowed in the Greensboro Coliseum for Wednesday night’s two-game session, with a decision about fan attendance thereafter left to further evaluation, we tried to crowdsource thoughts on anything similar.

Games during the 1987 NFL strike with replacement players came to mind. As did the week-long sports blackout after 9/11.

Vis-à-vis tonight’s session, I threw in for good measure the games before the 1994 MLB strike that cut that season short without a World Series.

At this point, we’re going to get a conclusion to the college hoops season, but it will be like nothing we’ve ever seen before.

Back to Keatts, saying what needed to be said.

“It’s a serious problem, and it’s not an athletic problem. It’s a problem all across the country, and so I don’t think anybody here or anybody in the sports world should obviously complain about what the people that know what’s going on will decide to do,” Keatts said.

“In our situation, we’ll play wherever they tell us, but we also want to make sure that our kids and our coaches are all protected and are safe,” Keatts said. “I don’t really have a true answer other than I’m not the smartest guy when it comes to this. I’m going to listen to the people that’s above us, and wherever they tell us to go, wherever they tell us to play, or if it’s fans or not fans, we’ll do it.”

Story by Chris Graham

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