ATLANTA -- From the look and feel of Wednesday's practice session at Philips Arena, N.C. State (20-11, 9-7 ACC) didn't seem worried at all about the fact that they may be a bubble team for the NCAA Tournament. Practice was loose and the players were having a good time, finishing the hour-long session with a 20-minute game of Knockout.
The Wolfpack play Boston College on Thursday in the opening round of the ACC Tournament. After beating the Eagles twice this season, and especially since many experts feel N.C. State needs to win at least one game in the conference tournament to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, head coach Mark Gottfried said his team isn't looking past this first-round game.
"I don't think our guys are going to look at their record," said Gottfried. "We have a lot of respect for them, especially the way they played us up there in Boston just a short time ago."
In addition to making sure Boston College doesn't sneak up on then, Gottfried said the Wolfpack have united in search of an bigger goal.''
"We're also looking at a bigger prize," said Gottfried. "We feel like out backs are against a wall as far as an NCAA Tournament bid, we've got to do a lot of work to get there. The carrot for us is dangling out there and we have to go and find a way to achieve it."
If N.C. State beats Boston College it will face Virginia on Friday, a team that beat the Wolfpack by one point on Jan. 28. It's unclear how many wins it will take from N.C. State to get an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament, but those first two would be a great start.