A concern for teams that are favored to win a championship before a season begins is that they play less passionately on the defensive end of the floor believing they can outscore teams. North Carolina teams have previously fallen into this trap, but eventually claimed two national titles from two core groups of players. After last night’s lost in Winston Salem is the pressure of being a favorite causing issues for NC State?
NC State could be a victim of its own success stemming from last season. The Wolfpack played aggressive intense basketball down the stretch before losing in the sweet sixteen to Kansas. The Wolfpack were not expected at the beginning of the season to make such a run however they became hot at the right time and one of the better teams to watch in in the field of 68. Combine a solid run and a highly rated recruiting class and you have preseason accolades and lofty expectations suddenly thrust upon you.
NC State lost last night to Wake forest and that was a terrible loss for the Wolfpack this year because Mark Gottfried has changed the image of the program. To defend this point look no further than last Saturday when NC State won a tight game versus Clemson and how much scrutiny the team took for how they won. The measuring stick for good teams is having the fan base complaining about how you won.
To move to another level where you are competing for Championships and winning them you cannot have the setbacks NC State has had in Maryland and at Wake Forest. Veteran leaders have to rise to the occasion and pull their team through tough games where you may not be firing on all cylinders, but your defense is there. NC State had a 16 point lead on the road to the Demon Deacons and lost it. Everything started to go right for Wake Forest and wrong for NC State allowing the Deacs to pull out an upset win. NC State looked at times as if they were in quick sand and harder they tried the further they sank.
Saturday NC State will have the crowd rocking as North Carolina comes to town. The Wolfpack have lost 13 in a row to the Tar Heels and will be hungry as ever to end that streak. In NC States win over Duke Mark Gottfried did an excellent job keeping his composure allowing the crowd to voice any frustrations toward the officials. His team played loose and it showed as they defeated the number one ranked team. Saturday will be a little different as the Wolfpack is the ranked team and the Tar Heels are looking for an upset.