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I Don't Even Know What to Say Anymore

NC State is in the Final Four, but additionally, NC State is in the Final Four. This week, there will be eight college basketball teams alive to win a national championship. NC State will be two of them. It is not immediately clear to me how to process that information. 


I am biased, but there are not many college fanbases, maybe not even one, that deserve this run more than the NC State fans. That’s you, the people that sell out the football stadium every week and have for decades shown up to 9 PM Tuesday night basketball games to watch a 14-10 Pack team beat Boston College by 3. It has been a long time coming for something good to happen to the men’s team. The women’s team is simply good as hell, and it was a matter of when not if for them, but getting these two results on a single afternoon, staggered like the basketball gods had neatly oriented them in the most consumable fashion, it’s poetic. 


I don’t know what to do. Part of me wants to visit the bell tower after every win and show up at the Dail at 3AM on a weeknight. Another part just wants to slow down and savor the moments. The men’s team run is the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen in sports. An utterly dormant basketball team, producing the most insipid sample of results possible during the regular season, suddenly becoming world beaters. I’d love to explain it. I can’t. 


DJ Burns has simply taken it up a level. You knew he could do that. I can’t really explain the shooting runs that Jayden Taylor and Michael O’Connell are on. I can’t explain O’Connell, a guard whose scoring package was beyond uninspiring during the regular season, suddenly being the guy to hit the biggest shot in every game. I can’t explain Diarra posting double-doubles while totally dehydrated.  


Most of all, this team is defending like they enjoy it. I have never seen an NC State men’s basketball team play defense like this in my life. Just that alone is worth celebrating beyond the results that originated from it. I watched six years of Mark Gottfried teams and almost seven years of Kevin Keatts teams defend like it was just a chore they had to get done before they got to the fun stuff. What am I watching now? The intensity, sure, that’s a thing, but it’s the organization. The rotations and communication, these are scary good. 


How did this happen? Well it really started nah who cares? State is in two Final Fours and currently on one of the greatest runs in basketball history. Just savor that. Just think about it a lot. Keep thinking about it. It’s fun. Let bouncing Duke from the Elite Eight and whooping UNC in the ACC Championship occupy large portions of your brain. This is so fun. Every single half of every single game contains something memorable. I can’t believe how long this run has gone on, each game seemingly the one that will remind us of how the real world handles odds, and each one failing to do so, often in spectacular fashion.


NC State is in the Final Four, and also, NC State is in the Final Four, and come this weekend, we will watch NC State play in the Final Four on back-to-back days. I don’t know what to write about this anymore, because I can’t find any words that do justice to how sweet that fact is. Go Pack, and also, Go Pack.


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