March 20, 2014
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The First Four - The Top Storylines For This Game
1. WOLFPACK IN THE DANCE...AGAIN
Mark Gottfried has coached the Wolfpack into the Big Dance for the third time in as many seasons. NC State, a bubble team in 2012, advanced to the Sweet 16 that year with wins over San Diego State and Georgetown. Last year's NC State team made the tournament as a No. 8 seed and lost in the second round. This is NC State's 25th NCAA Tournament appearance all-time and the first time its been a No. 12 seed. NC State's 74-59 win over Xavier on Tuesday night lifted NC State to 34-23 all-time in what Mark Gottfried calls "the greatest show on Earth."
2. SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
The term, coined by legendary NCSU coach Jim Valvano and the title of an ESPN `30 For 30' documentary about Valvano's national title team, certainly fits this year's NC State team. The Wolfpack was the last team into the tournament, but showed its validity with a sound victory over Xavier on Tuesday night. T.J. Warren scored 25 points - 16 in the second half - and Ralston Turner added 17. Tyler Lewis dished eight assists to go along with seven points in what was one of NC State's best performances of the season.
3. PLAYER OF THE YEAR SETS SCHOOL SCORING RECORD
T.J. Warren, the ACC's leading scorer with 24.8 points per game, was voted the league's player of the year by the ACC's head coaches and the media. The 6-8 sophomore is the top scorer among all players in the Power 5 conferences and stands third in the nation in scoring. His 25 points in the NCAA First Round vs. Xavier in Dayton gave him a school-record 843 points this season. After pouring in a career-high 41 points on 16-for-22 shooting in NC State's win at Pittsburgh on March 3, he topped that with 42 points in a win over Boston College on March 9. Warren is also first in the ACC with a .525 field goal percentage (minimum 5 FG made per game). He is on pace to become just the third player in ACC history to lead the conference in both scoring and field goal percentage (Horace Grant, Tim Duncan). Warren is also among the ACC's leaders in rebounds (7th), offensive rebounds (2nd), minutes played (8th) and steals (4th).
4. WHEN THE WOLFPACK DANCED THE HARDEST
It's fitting NC State earns a tourney bid 40 years after capturing its first national title, a 1974 crown behind legendary players David Thompson and Tommy Burleson. NC State, ranked No. 1, knocked off No. 4 Maryland to earn the ACC's only bid to the tournament. NC State roared into the Final Four, taking down Bill Walton and UCLA in the semifinal before defeating Marquette in the championship game. Jim Valvano's 1983 "Cardiac Pack" went on one of college basketball's all-time great tourney runs, defeating Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma with a buzzer-beating dunk by Lorenzo Charles.