When the NCAA tournament field was announced on Sunday, there were many people, including Wolfpack fans, who were shocked to see N.C. State included in the field. The Pack had finished seventh in the conference and only advanced to the semifinal of the ACC Tournament, but their strength of schedule ultimately pushed them over the top in becoming the league's sixth and final team admitted into the dance.
In a Tuesday interview with NCSU athletic director Debbie Yow, radio host David Glenn asked whether or not Mark Gottfried's time with ESPN helped him get a better understanding of what the selection committee was looking for in bubble teams. Presumably referring to Gottfried's 2006-07 season at Alabama, Yow recounted a story in which the then-Crimson Tide coach won over 20 games only to be left out of the tournament.
And this is where it gets interesting. Yow says that Gottfried spoke to Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage, who had served as the chair of the Men's Division I Basketball Committee.
"When he talked to Craig, Craig told him, 'your conference schedule wasn't that strong, and your out-of-conference wasn't that strong, so your schedule strength didn't meet what we were looking for,'" Yow said.
While competing in the ACC makes it a bit easier to build your strength of schedule, Gottfried has clearly taken the advice to heart. This year, the Wolfpack faced both Cincinnati and Tennessee on the road, and Eastern Kentucky and North Carolina Central are two other tournament teams that made trips to Raleigh this season.
Funny how things work out. Listen to the full sound bite below.