Wolfpack can clinch ACC tourney bye vs. Seminoles - WNCN: News, Weather

Wolfpack can clinch ACC tourney bye vs. Seminoles

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N.C. State has been on a roll since the return of point guard Lorenzo Brown. Photo by Jeff Reeves N.C. State has been on a roll since the return of point guard Lorenzo Brown. Photo by Jeff Reeves
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina State fell short of its preseason expectations to finish atop the Atlantic Coast Conference standings. Still, the Wolfpack can earn the program's best league finish in nine years.
    
The team that entered the year with a top-10 ranking can clinch a top-four seed and a first-round bye at next week's league tournament in Greensboro by winning at Florida State in Saturday's regular-season finale. And while the season hasn't lived up to preseason expectations, that would give the Wolfpack a chance for the program's best regular-season league finish since coming in second in 2004.
    
Coach Mark Gottfried has talked to his team recently about finishing strong to earn that bye, which would be a big help for a team with only eight scholarship players.
    
"I think we've put ourselves in position ... where now we've got an opportunity to potentially help ourselves," Gottfried said Friday.
    
N.C. State (22-8, 11-6 ACC) caught a break when Virginia (20-10, 10-7) lost at Florida State on Thursday night considering the Cavaliers had the head-to-head tiebreaker by beating the Wolfpack in the only matchup this year. While a win against FSU would secure the bye, the Wolfpack could finish as high as the No. 3 seed if North Carolina also lost to Duke on Saturday night.
    
But if N.C. State stumbles and Virginia wins its finale against Maryland on Sunday, N.C. State could slide to the No. 5 seed with a first-round game on Thursday. That would mean the Wolfpack had to win four games in four days - something never done in ACC tournament history - for the program's first title since 1987.
    
"I think if your goal is to win the ACC tournament championship, obviously you want to play the least amount of games possible to do that," Gottfried said. "However it plays itself out, we will be ready regardless."
    
Still, N.C. State has already earned consecutive 20-win seasons for the first time since 2007 and appears a solid bet to return to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season after five years of struggle under Sidney Lowe.
    
Last year's team entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed with a first-round game, but won twice to reach the semifinals and secure an NCAA bid on the way to reaching the round of 16.
    
The Wolfpack would just prefer to avoid that extra game if possible this time around.
    
"Obviously it's going to eliminate one extra chance for you to get beat if you have the bye," senior Scott Wood said. "For me, it doesn't matter. I want to win the Florida State game, but you're going to have to beat everybody to win the ACC championship at the end of the day. That's the main thing."

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