March Madness for Wolfpack

vtech ncsu

By Kyle Stengel

NC State Basketball had one of their best seasons that they have had in the past five years during this season. The Wolfpack advanced to the second round of the ACC Tournament in Greensboro and even got selected to be one of the 64 teams in the famous “March Madness” tournament.

NC State’s season was led by a talented guard group consisting of Terquavion Smith and Jarkel Joiner. Smith finished the year averaging 17.9 points per game and Jarkel averaged 17 points per game. This duo was often considered this year as one of the top duos in all of college basketball and showed this in games like the win against Virginia Tech in the ACC tournament and the win against Duke. 

Center DJ Burns also played a key role contributing to the team’s success, averaging 12.5 points per game and 4.8 rebounds as well. DJ was considered the heart and soul of this Wolfpack team due to his constant smile and high motor. This even brought him the term of “Raleigh’s mayor” because of how much everyone loved him and supported him. 

After a very disappointing last season and finishing in last play in the ACC with an overall record of 11 and 21 and 4 and 16 in conference play, head coach Kevin Keatts made it a priority to not repeat this performance this year and he lived up to his belief. The roster coming into the year consisted of a lot of transfers that State landed before the start of this season that played major roles like DJ Burns, Jack Clark and Dusan Mahorcic. 

State would finish this year’s regular season placing 6th in the ACC which is a huge jump from when they finished at the bottom of the division last year 15th. With a conference record of 12 and 8 in conference play and 23 and 11 total, State would be awarded a bye in the ACC tournament and an 11th seed berth in March Madness. 

In the ACC tournament, State beat Virginia Tech due to a great game by Smith, who finished the game with a total of 30 points and Joiner, who finished the game with 20 points. State would then play Clemson in the next round and would lose 80 to 54 thus knocking State out of the ACC tournament. 

In the first round of March Madness, State faced off against Creighton and fell by a score of 63 to 72. This not only would knock State out of the tournament but would end NC State’s season as well. Smith played his hardest in the game, however, racking up a total of 32 points in 34 minutes played. 

Smith was named All ACC Tournament first team player, second team all ACC regular season player. Joiner was also named second team all ACC regular season player and Burns received an honorable mention as well. 

Photo by Kyle Stengel. The Wolfpack beat the Virginia Tech Hokies 97-77 on March 8.