NBC Sports: #4
Too high for a team that was an average ACC team that got hot at season’s end? Maybe. But the Wolfpack return four starters and bring in a top 5 recruiting class headed by guard Rodney Purvis. It’s an athletic, balanced group that also boasts elite athletes. Now we’ll see if coach Mark Gottfried can pull off some magic for an entire season.
College Hoops Net: #9
Mark Gottfried inherited a talented roster, and did the best of it with a surprise Sweet Sixteen run. CJ Williams is a senior and CJ Leslie could decide to turn pro, but the rest of the roster returns intact. Even if Leslie leaves, NC State re-loads with 6th ranked prospect Rodney Purvis, #23 TJ Warren and #55 Tyler Lewis. Expectations will be higher than they’ve been in years.
Andy Katz, ESPN: #6
How did this happen so fast? Is North Carolina State really the ACC favorite? Why not. North Carolina and Duke are taking on serious losses, and the Wolfpack overachieved under Mark Gottfried (and top assistant Bobby Lutz) to get to the Sweet 16. If the Wolfpack don’t get too giddy about leaving (will C.J. Leslie remain?), they should be the favorite in the conference. Gottfried has one of the top recruiting classes in the country with Rodney Purvis, T.J. Warren and Tyler Lewis. So get ready, Raleigh. You might just have the ACC favorite.
Big Lead Sports: #3
It feels too high, but on paper this is the ACC’s best team.
Sports Illustrated: #5
I’ve been playing around with John Pudner’s new Value Add Basketball database, and we seem to agree on the Wolfpack — he has them sixth for next season, and they’re fifth here. What Pudner’s ranking formula, which is based on adding the “value over replacement” of the players on 2012-13 rosters, suggests is that State would have still been in the 16-17 range had forward C.J. Leslie not passed on the NBA draft. Value Add isn’t in love with Leslie, ranking him as the 175th-best player in D-I for next season. It puts higher values on point guard Lorenzo Brown (the 48th-rated player, and only State rep in the top 100), incoming freshman scoring machine Rodney Purvis, and senior sharpshooter Scott Wood.
Don’t get me wrong. I hope NC State is this good next season. I pray they are this good next season. I think we can be this good next season…
…but I think you’d have to be a fool is you actually expect NC State to be this good next season. The loss of Painter as a team leader and the experience lost from Alex Johnson leaving is going to be a handicap that I think can’t be underestimated. Here’s hoping to a great season that, once again, shatters what we expect and lives up to what we hope for.