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Survive and advance

Posted Sunday, March 20, 2005

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No. 10 seed NC State (20-13) faces No. 2 seed Connecticut (23-7) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16.


"At any one moment in time you simply are who you are. The key is you do the best with what you have given your circumstances. We've been very fortunate that a number of guys have stepped up and played very well for us. It really reflects the true meaning of team. Our guys have shown a tremendous amout of grit and resiliency through the year." -- NC State head coach Herb Sendek

"We know that they have talented players. As a whole, we just have to put it all together. We have to be good on the boards, and if we stick with our tough defense, we'll put ourselves in a position to win the game." -- NC State guard Julius Hodge

"[He made] an incredibly gutsy, gutsy move to go to a Princeton-type offense, and it's worked out incredibly great for him. I've always had great admiration, the fact that he's stucked with it during not so easy times and now he's got himself back in the tournament." -- UCONN head coach Jim Calhoun

"They are going to be a tough team, but at the same time they are used to losing. I think if we get them down early, it's going to be a hard time for them." -- UCONN swingman Denham Brown

NC State's Probable Starters

G Engin Atsur 9.3 ppg 2.6 apg
G Cameron Bennerman 9.2 ppg 2.6 rpg
G Julius Hodge 17.0 ppg 6.8 rpg
F Ilian Evtimov 9.8 ppg 3.8 rpg
F Andrew Brackman 7.3 ppg 3.5 rpg

Connecticut's Probable Starters

G Marcus Williams 9.2 ppg 7.9 apg
G Denham Brown 10.8 ppg 4.1 rpg
C Josh Boone 12.6 ppg 8.5 rpg
F Charlie Villanueva 13.5 ppg 8.2 rpg
F Rudy Gay 12.1 ppg 5.5 rpg

Players to Watch

NC State
Julius Hodge -- Hodge was outstanding in NC State's opening round win against Charlotte and the Wolfpack will need the same performance to advance past UCONN. He's a matchup nightmare, but look for Rudy Gay and Denham Brown to rotate onto Hodge.

Marcus Williams -- Williams is the nation's leading assist man, and he's had a terrific season for UCONN. However, he's the only true guard on the Huskies' roster, and if he gets into foul trouble or aggravates his ankle sprain, UCONN could be in trouble.

NC State Game Notes

# THE PACK IS BACK IN NCAA TOURNAMENT: This season will mark the 21st that NC State has advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Wolfpack posts an alltime record of 29-19 in the “Big Dance” and has gone 24-18 not counting consolation games (since 1976).

# WOLFPACK IN ELITE COMPANY: Herb Sendek is now just the second coach in NC State history to take the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Jim Valvano had a five-year run from 1985-89 and the legendary Everett Case had a three-year streak from 1950-52.

NC State is one of just 21 teams who have earned NCAA bids each of the past four seasons. This marks just the second time in school history that the Wolfpack has gone to four straight tournaments. NC State earned five straight bids from 1985-89 before the current streak.

# NC STATE SENIORS COMPLETE THE SWEEP: After a 10 year absence in the NCAA Tournament, NC State’s senior class has now led the Wolfpack to four straight invitations to the Big Dance. Jordan Collins, Ilian Evtimov (Redshirt junior), Julius Hodge, Will Roach and Levi Watkins join just five other players in NC State’s storied basketball history to advance to four straight tourneys.

# FINISHING STRONG: NC State won four of its last six games of the regular season, its best finish since the 1996-97 campaign - Herb Sendek’s first with the Wolfpack. Prior to that, you have to go back to the 1990-91 season to find a Pack team that finished so strongly. Heading into the NCAA Tournament, the Wolfpack has won six of its last nine games, with all three of the losses coming to teams ranked in the top five nationally (North Carolina, Duke and Wake Forest). Four of the Pack’s last seven opponents were ranked in the top 10.

The last time the Pack had won four of its last six regular season games when the opposition was ranked in at least three of those games was in 1979-80, when Norm Sloan’s team finished the teason 9-1 and faced four ranked teams in its last six games (three top 10 teams).


Ö This is the first time the Wolfpack has earned a No. 10 seed. This is the second lowest seed for NC State entering the NCAA Tournament. The only time NC State entered with a lower seed was in 1987 when the Pack was seeded 11th for a first round game with Florida. Florida won that game, 82-70.

Ö The Wolfpack has played two games against the No. 7 seed in its NCAA Tournament history, winning both. NC State defeated Iowa State in the Regional semifinals in 1986 and seventhseeded Alabama in the regional semifinals in 1985.

Ö This will be the second time in the last four years that NC State and UCONN could meet in the second round of the tournament. The Huskies eliminated the Pack, 77-74, in the second round of 2002 at the MCI Center in Washington, DC.

Ö NC State’s 1983 team won the National Championship as a No. 6 seed. That ties as the second-worst seed in the history of the tournament to win the N C A A Championship. Kansas won the 1988 National Championship as a No. 6 seed. The worst seed for an NCAA Champion was a No. 8 by Villanova in 1985.

Ö Three NC State athletic directors have served on the NCAATournament Committee. Willis Casey served from 1975- 80, Les Robinson in 2000 while he was the A D at NC State and Lee Fowler, the Pack’s current AD, served from 2001- 02. Fowler was the committee chair in 2002.

Ö NC State has won two National Championships, but only one Wolfpack player has been named the MVP of the Final Four. David Thompson won the award in 1974 when NC State defeated Marquette and Al McGuire for the championship. In 1983, Houston’s Akeem Olajuwon won the award even though NC State won the championship. That is the last time a player on a losing team won the MVP of the Final Four.

Ö An NC State player has led the NCAA Tournament in scoring (total points basis) twice, both seasons the Pack won the National Championship. David Thompson led the tournament in 1974 with 97 points, while Dereck Whittenburg (now head coach at Fordham), led the tournament in scoring with 120 points in 1983.

Connecticut Game Notes

# ENTERING ROUND TWO -- The University of Connecticut is the No. 2 seed in the Syracuse Region of the 2005 NCAA Tournament and enters the Second Round with a 23-7 record on the regular season, coming off a 77-71 win over Central Florida in the First Round Friday afternoon. The Huskies have won 11 of 13 games entering a 12:10 p.m. Sunday contest against the No. 10 seed Wolfpack of NC State. The Wolfpack defeated UNC Charlotte to advance.

# UCONN VS. ACC IN TOURNEY UNDER CALHOUN -- UConn has a record of 6-4 in the NCAA Tournament under Jim Calhoun vs. opponents from the ACC. The Huskies are 2-2 vs. Duke, 1-1 vs. Maryland, 1-0 vs. Clemson, Georgia Tech and NC State and 0-1 vs. North Carolina.

# UCONN VS. NC STATE -- The Huskies have a record of 2-1 vs. NC State, all coming under Jim Calhoun. The Huskies have won the last two meetings between the schools, including a 77-74 win in the 2002 NCAA Second Round in Washington, D.C., the only previous NCAA tourney meeting. A complete recap and boxscore of that game can be found in the NCAA Tournament history section of the UConn postseason media guide.

# 19-3 in LAST SIX NCAA’S -- UConn has registered a 19-3 record in the last six appearances in the NCAA Tournament, dating back to its 6-0 run to the National Title in 1999. UConn reached the NCAA Second Round in 2000, reached the NCAA Elite Eight in 2002, advanced to the Sweet 16 in 2003 and went 6-0 again in 2004 en route to the school’s second national title.

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Survive and advance
Herb Sendek is now just the second coach in NC State history to take the Wolfpack to the NCAA Tournament four years in a row. Jim Valvano had a five-year run from 1985-89.
photo by Gene Galin

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