Home This 2024 NC State run is not at all like 1983: And it’s not even close

This 2024 NC State run is not at all like 1983: And it’s not even close

Chris Graham
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Photo: ACC

People keep making NC State’s run to the Elite Eight like a redux of 1983, which, big misread. That NC State team was a good team that got derailed by injuries before getting healthy; this NC State team just sucked, then suddenly, didn’t.

The ’83 Pack team was ranked in the Top 20 into mid-January, but lost star guard Dereck Whittenburg in a nationally-televised matchup with #2 Virginia, in a game it was leading at the time, went on to lose, 88-80, stumbled to a 10-7 record without Whittenburg, and limped into the ACC Tournament with a 17-10 record.

State, as we all know, won the ACC Tournament, beating #5 UNC in OT in the semis, then beating #2 UVA in the championship game, to get an NCAA bid.

The rest is history – another win over UVA in the Elite Eight, the airball-turned-into-a-dunk to beat Houston in the championship game, Jim Valvano running around the floor looking for somebody to hug.

That team was no fluke. The ’83 State team was 16-3 at full strength, including a back-to-back wins over the Ralph Sampson-led ‘Hoos, a win over the Michael Jordan– and Sam Perkins-led Tar Heels, and the win in the title game over a Houston team with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler.

This 2024 NC State team hasn’t been missing anybody significant due to injury. The top seven guys in Kevin Keatts’ rotation have missed a total of two games.

This State team was never ranked, was not particularly impressive before Christmas, peaking at 52 in KenPom four games in.

An 84-78 loss to Virginia Tech in Raleigh on Jan. 20 started a three-game losing streak that would morph into a 4-10 finish, with losses in their last four regular-season games.

The ’83 team, remember, stumbled when Whittenburg went down to the broken foot, but stumbling for that group was going 10-7, with a win over North Carolina.

The 2024 team, again, nobody injured, just went 4-10 for no good reason, other than sucking.

To turn that around and go 8-0, with wins over Duke, Virginia and UNC to get to the NCAA Tournament, a convincing win over a 6 seed (Texas Tech) and then last night’s near-wire-to-wire win over 2 seed Marquette, which won 27 games this season, it defies explanation.

This team is not only not even playing if Isaac McKneely, an 87.3 percent free-throw shooter, makes the front end of a one-and-one with 5.3 seconds left, Keatts is fired the following Monday, a bunch of guys hit the transfer portal, and NC State basketball is at the beginning of the latest rebuild.

They’re a game away, with Duke in the way, from a trip to the Final Four.

With apologies to Jimmy V and his Cardiac Pack, it’s not even close.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].