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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Stretch Run

Just four games remain in the 2008-09 regular season. The older I get, the faster these seasons come and go.

I can't imagine how fast the seasons will fly by once I hit 45 or 50. No wonder our graybeards talk about the titles of '74 and '83 as though they happened just yesteryear. I'm sure it feels that way to them, just as 1996 seems like just a few years ago to me.

Nevertheless, there's the slate ahead. You can see what Ken Pomeroy's computers tell us will happen. It's a relatively safe prediction of 7-9, and one that -- had you offered it to State fans the day after the loss to VT that put State at 2-6 in-conference -- I'm sure most would have taken.

If we assume KenPom's predictions all hold true -- which they won't, but let's assume they do -- then here are your final regular season standings:


TeamConference Record
2 Wake11-5
NC State
Va Tech

If this plays out as predicted, the Virginia Tech loss still hurts but not as much as perhaps some folks felt initially. It would have State at an 8-8 finish, tied for the 7th position in the conference with Miami, a five-spot improvement from last season's debacle.

In terms of the ACC tournament, though, the impact would not be felt. According to the ACC's tiebreaker policy (if I've deciphered it properly), State would have an identical W/L record against UNC, the same number of wins (one) but one more loss against the tied teams in second place (Wake, Clemson, Duke) and therefore be seeded 8th at the ACC tournament regardless.

Again, this all assumes that Ken's predictions all play out as his computers project.

Looking ahead, let's look at some best case/worse case scenarios for the Pack based on these predictions:

Absolute Best Case Scenario: We win out, of course. Doing so would put us at 9-7 in a three-way tie for 5th with BC and FSU, with both schools holding the tiebreaker over us in tourney seeding (BC's win against UNC earns them the nod over us in our tie). It would take a near miracle for this to occur -- Maryland and Boston College at home are loseable games, but defeating both Miami AND Wake Forest on the road is asking a lot of the basketball gods. It can be done, but only if all the pieces fall the right way (turnovers and rebounding numbers would have to improve dramatically). Chance of Success = 1 in 10

Highly Optimistic Scenario: Win three of four to finish 8-8. Win both home games against Maryland and Boston College, and steal one on the road, most likely at Miami. An 8-8 finish with a win over the 'Canes would put the Pack in sole possession of 7th place in the league. Chance of Success = 1 in 3

More Realistic But Given Our Track Record Still Cautiously Optimistic Scenario: Win the home games and lose the road games to finish 7-9 and in sole possession of 8th place in the league. Miami is going to be a really tough out in Jack McClinton's final game at Miami. He'll be so fired up that he'll be making them from the gigantic U. Chance of Success = 2 of 3

Pretty Darn Pessemistic Scenario: State loses three of their final four games. Either Tyrese Rice or Greivis Vasquez explode like they've shown they can do and/or State turns it over 50% of their possessions to lose both of their road games and one of the final two at home. A 6-10 finish would put the Pack either tied with Maryland for 10th (with a loss to BC) or in sole possession of 10th (with a loss to Maryland). Either way, not good. Chance of Failure = 1 in 3

Holy Hell The World Is Crashing Down Around Us, But Hey, We're State, This Is Just What Happens To Us Scenario: State loses all four games in an epic collapse not seen since, well, last year. Both Rice AND Vasquez go off and State never gets the ball past midcourt. State would finish 5-11, just one game ahead of Virginia in 10th place, and the ward drums would start to pound pretty loudly. Chance of The Apocolypse = 1 in 10

I can live with 7-9. I'd love 8-8. To finish 9-7 is asking too much, even for this dyed-in-the-wool fan.

But 6-10 or 5-11 finishes would be major disappointments and put a very sour taste in everyone's mouths at the end of the season, for the second year in a row.

1 comment:

  1. I tihnk I would take a 7-9 record right now. 8-8 or better is pretty optimistic and as a State fan, I've learned to keep my expectations low. That said, maybe I should take 6-10 and run!

    we're gonna be a tough out in the ACC tournament. I doubt anyone would be eager to play us.