The North Carolina State Wolfpack were preseason favorites to win the Atlantic Coast Conference, ahead of Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils.
The Pack weren't expected to run away with the conference, but they were predicted to win a lot of basketball games.
And beat Duke.
It looks like those preseason pundits and rankers were onto something.
In preseason rankings, the Pack were ranked No. 6 by both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, while the Blue Devils were slotted behind them at No. 8.
Preseason rankings are not the embodiment of truth, but sometimes they can indicate what’s to come.
The Wolfpack’s preseason ranking seemed outlandish as the team struggled out of the gates, dropping two of their first six games. True, one of those was against the then third-ranked Michigan Wolverines.
But lately, thanks to a 10-game winning streak, NC State has fought its way back into the rankings.
The Pack have done it by posting the best field-goal percentage in college basketball, shooting 53 percent, and by scoring an eighth-best 81.3 points per contest.
Duke’s undefeated streak was bound to end sooner or later.
In its 15 previous wins, only Louisville, Kentucky and Ohio State came close to getting the better of the No. 1-ranked Blue Devils.
Nobody stays unbeaten forever at this level anymore.
In the January 12 game against the Pack, Duke’s starting forward Ryan Kelly was sidelined, which allowed Richard Howell to work with impunity in the paint. Howell racked up 16 points and 18 rebounds to help a poor rebounding Wolfpack team get the advantage on the boards.
There were a multitude of factors that led to this “shocker,” but it really should not have surprised you.
Calling the win an "upset" is not indicative of the reality in the ACC this year.
The Wolfpack came to play and fired the first shots. Let’s see how Krzyzewski’s team bounces back from its first loss.
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