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2018 NCAA tournament preview: No. 9 N.C. State

N.C. State Wolfpack: 21-11, 11-7 in the ACC

Head coach: Kevin Keatts (1st season)

Players to watch: Allerik Freeman (15.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 2.6 APG); Torin Dorn (13.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 53.9 FG%); Omer Yurtseven (13.8 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.9 BPG)

Season recap: After one of the worst seasons in the program's recent history, N.C. State had no choice but to replace Mark Gottfried as head coach. And on his first day at the helm of the Wolfpack, Kevin Keatts proclaimed himself a winner.

Through 31 games, Keatts has proven that and a whole lot more, guiding N.C. State to a finish in the top half of the ACC and essentially locking up a spot in the NCAA tournament. It didn't take long for the Wolfpack to earn a signature win—they knocked off then-No. 2 Arizona in their opening game at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thanksgiving weekend. Despite a shocking home defeat to UNC Greensboro a few weeks later before two road losses to start conference play, N.C. State showed it would be a threat when it topped a second-ranked team yet again, taking down Duke in Raleigh.

From there, the run only continued. The Wolfpack have lost consecutive games just twice in conference play, and just 21 days after taking out one Triangle foe on its home floor, N.C. State showed it could do the same on the road, knocking off North Carolina in a high-scoring thriller at the Dean Dome. 

With the return of Markell Johnson following a mid-season suspension, the Wolfpack have a talented and deep backcourt that also includes redshirt junior Torin Dorn and graduate transfer Allerik Freeman in addition to Omer Yurtseven, who has been an anchor down low ever since a breakout performance against the Blue Devils.

How they make a run: N.C. State continues to play efficient offense, getting contributions across the board, but especially from Yurtseven, who leads the Wolfpack to a second-round upset of No. 1 seed Kansas to advance to the Sweet 16.

How they falter: Classic N.C. State mistakes come back to bite the Wolfpack as they limp out early with a loss to Seton Hall in the first round.

Mitchell Gladstone | Sports Managing Editor

Twitter: @mpgladstone13

A junior from just outside Philadelphia, Mitchell is probably reminding you how the Eagles won the Super Bowl this year and that the Phillies are definitely on the rebound. Outside of The Chronicle, he majors in Economics, minors in Statistics and is working toward the PJMS certificate, in addition to playing trombone in the Duke University Marching Band. And if you're getting him a sandwich with beef and cheese outside the state of Pennsylvania, you best not call it a "Philly cheesesteak." 


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