N.C. State’s one-and-done performance in the ACC tournament, a 91-87 loss Wednesday to 12th-seeded Boston College, was disappointing to a lot of Wolfpack fans given the promise of Kevin Keatts’ first year as coach.
But where does it rank among the Pack’s most disappointing ACC tournament losses? Here’s one guess at five of the most upsetting defeats:
1975 ACC Tournament, Greensboro
North Carolina 70, NC State 66
The Pack was the defending national champion, had the national player of the year in David Thompson and was ranked in the top 10. But the Wolfpack tied for second in the regular season behind Maryland and needed a win in the ACC title game to reach the NCAA Tournament.
Thompson suffered severe cramps in the semifinal game, a win over the Terps, and lacked his usual explosiveness and hops in the title game. UNC claimed the conference’s automatic berth and Maryland was selected as the second ACC team, leaving the Pack at home.
1989 ACC tournament, Atlanta
Maryland 71, NC State 49
No one could believe it. N.C. State had finished first in the ACC’s regular season and the Terps were 1-13 and last, but an overconfident Pack was bounced in the opening round.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything exactly like that,” Pack coach Jim Valvano said. “We went through an entire game without doing the first thing right.”
Adding to the drama of the day: Maryland coach Bob Wade collapsed in the locker room after the game, suffering from dehydration, and was taken to a hospital. Wade missed the semifinal game as Maryland was throttled 88-58 by UNC.
2003 ACC tournament, Greensboro
Duke 84, NC State 77
The Pack led the Blue Devils by 15 points midway through the second half and on its way to its first ACC tournament title since 1987. Then, Duke’s J.J. Redick went off.
Redick, a freshman guard, began knocking in 3-pointers, scoring 23 of his 30 points points in the final 10 minutes as Duke won its fifth straight title. The Pack, coached by Herb Sendek, was left shell-shocked and its fans despondent.
“We had control and we let it slip away,” Wolfpack star Julius Hodge said. “It's not about going down swinging, it's about winning. This was the championship game and we let an opportunity slip away."
2004 ACC tournament, Greensboro
Maryland 85, NC State 82
A year after the loss to Duke, the Pack suffered another upsetting loss at the Greensboro Coliseum. The Wolfpack led Maryland by 21 points in the semifinals before guard John Gilchrist spurred a comeback victory.
Sendek was furious when referee Larry Rose called a technical foul on the Pack in the second half after a student manager quickly ran on the floor to wipe up some moisture during play. The technical factored into the Terps’ rally, becoming a four-point possession.
The late Fred Barakat, then the ACC supervisor of officials, said it was a “horrible” call and pulled Rose from his championship game assignment.
2012 ACC tournament, Atlanta
North Carolina 69, NC State 67
This was the year referee Karl Hess had thrown former Pack stars Chris Corchiani and Tom Gugliotta out of a regular-season game at PNC Arena. Some of the ACC refs at the tournament put white tape with “K.H.” on their shoes in the opening round, upsetting NCSU fans and officials.
The tape quickly was banished but the Pack suffered a gut-punch of a loss to the Tar Heels in the semifinals. State fans again were angry with two no-calls by the refs late in the game — UNC’s Kendall Marshall knocking over the Pack’s Alex Johnson on a drive, then State center Richard Howell claiming he was fouled attempting a shot in the final second.
“We’re disappointed, tremendously,” Pack coach Mark Gottfried said. “This is just a tough one to take.”