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NC State is The Human Element

It is 1:28 in the morning. I am still trying to understand how NC State did what it just did, one of the most remarkable and unlikely sports accomplishments I have ever witnessed. I cannot believe what my eyes have seen.

NC State Men’s Basketball is your ACC Champion. 

State had already ended its major sport title drought with three straight women’s basketball titles. Yes, that’s a major sport, even as some people started pretending it wasn’t to keep the narrative alive. But I digress. If you had asked me who was most likely to follow among the football, baseball, and men’s basketball teams, I would have ranked them like this. 

  1. Baseball

  2. Football

  3. A large meteor colliding with earth, ending life as we know it

  4. Men’s basketball

There are so many levels to the improbability of this, both measurable and not. State won five games in as many days, beat the top three seeds, and beat Virginia by way of the basketball gods curving spacetime in the final five seconds. That’s insane, and if you’re keenly aware of the narratives and history surrounding NC State, that’s not even the part that will stick with you. 

It’s the fact that it was this team and not the one that started the year ranked sixth, not the one that was a three seed in the NCAA Tournament, not the one that had the ACC Player of The Year, and not the one that had a double bye in the tournament. There was never an inkling, not one single instance, over the course of the last 15 games of the season that would make even the stoutest optimist believe this could happen. There was no amount of mining in the depths of our contorted biases that could pull from the ground one iota of conviction that NC State could win the ACC Championship. So of course it was this team. 

There is certainly a lot to compliment about Keatts’ development of his players and the development of State’s offensive schemes this year. But the mindset of these guys three days after dropping four in a row seems to knock all that other stuff out of the way. That’s an element of the game that can’t be measured, analyzed, or predicted. It’s the human element of sports, and NC State has always embodied the human element, both in its faults and at its zenith. The limits of possibility are often just the limits of common perception in a cleverly designed mask, and verisimilitude was never a concern for the Wolfpack. 

That’s what sticks with me . It’s the total erasure of an entire season's worth of information to produce this insanity that's stuck in my brain. We’ve spent hours and hours writing and podcasting about this basketball team, digging into the offensive sets, the execution, the lack of a true downhill point guard, the conundrum of DJ Burns’ offense requiring his defense, etc. The pieces didn’t appear to add up to much, and a whole lot of data backed that up. But these are people. They are not digits in a spreadsheet. They are not beholden to the limits of calculation, and I can't think of a better way to represent the spirit of this university and all of its incredible people than reminding the entire country of that fact.

Thus, we are witnesses to the greatest conference tournament run in the history of college basketball. I dare you to name a better one. That’s your school that did that, NC State fans. How cool is that? I could write 10,000 words on all the different inputs, funny stats, schematic developments, and wild stuff that coalesced to create this moment. There will be time for that, but for now, I’m just going to let the gravity of this stand on its own. Against every odd you can think of, NC State is the ACC Champion. As Armando Bacot once said, Go Wolfpack.


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So True - What a great ride! Wolfpack Nation has lots to be proud of after that run! I was a sophomore in HS when they won their last ACC title. So happy for the players. will enjoy watching highlights for the next 37 years! Go Pack!


Love this! Such an accurate portrayal

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