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Feb 6, 2024 5:39 pm

Pitt, NC State aim to improve standing in bids for NCAA berths

Blake Hinson

To boost their resumes for the NCAA Tournament, Pitt and North Carolina State obviously need to stack up as many wins as they can.

Wednesday night in Raleigh, N.C., will provide an opportunity for both Atlantic Coast Conference teams to do just that when the Wolfpack and Panthers square off.

Whichever team wins will gain a Quadrant 2 victory, which is classified as a home win against any team positioned 31st through 75th in the NCAA’s NET rankings, or a road win over a team ranked 76th to 135th.

As of Tuesday, Pitt (14-8, 5-6) was 64th in the NET while North Carolina State (15-7, 7-4) was 76th.

According to ESPN’s bracketology, however, neither team is projected to make the NCAA Tournament.

“I try not to look at (bracket projections) because it doesn’t make sense to me,” Pitt coach Jeff Capel said this week. “I don’t understand it. … Our league is really good, the teams in our league are really good, the players, the coaches — it’s way more than North Carolina and Duke.”

But, of course, more victories could change outlooks for the Panthers and Wolfpack. Both teams have won their past two games.

Most recently, Pitt beat visiting Notre Dame 70-60 on Saturday. It was another game in which Blake Hinson’s sharp shooting powered the Panthers as he scored 17 points on 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Jaland Lowe added 11 points, five assists and four rebounds.

Hinson is averaging a team-high 18.0 points per game this season.

North Carolina State, which is 11-2 at home, beat visiting Georgia Tech 82-76 on Saturday. DJ Horne led the Wolfpack with 26 points while Jayden Taylor added 21. The victory marked the 200th for Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts in his career.

Georgia Tech has wins over Duke and North Carolina this season, but because of the NET, Keatts knew his team couldn’t afford to slip against the Yellow Jackets.

“A dangerous Georgia Tech team,” he said. “Their three (conference) wins are as good as any three wins in this league.”

And now, Keatts has to figure out how to beat Pitt, a team the Wolfpack lost to 68-60 at home last season.

–Field Level Media

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