Apr 7, 2024 - Sports

N.C. State had a run to remember

NC state purdue men's basketball

N.C. State's D.J. Burns Jr. checks his options against Purdue's Zach Edey. Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

The N.C. State men's basketball team's 9-game winning streak came to an end against Purdue and its 7'4 center Zach Edey on Saturday 63-50. The day before, the Wolfpack women's team fell to undefeated South Carolina, which went on to win the national championship on Sunday.

Why it matters: The magical run — which stretched from March until April, won the attention of the entire country and made D.J. Burns the most popular man in the city — was a reminder of what a strong Wolfpack basketball team means to Raleigh and the greater Triangle.

  • This year was the first time that N.C. State had both its men's and women's teams in the Final Four.

Zoom in: For more than 40 years, the Wolfpack fanbase has been waiting for the men's team to return to the Final Four — after a similarly charmed team in 1983 won a championship.

  • On Saturday on Hillsborough Street — blocked off for fans, alumni and the many of us simply along to watch the game on a large screen — one could feel a buoyancy among the Wolfpack faithful, thankful for a level of success that had felt so far away.
hillsborough street in Raleigh, north carolina
Wolfpack fans gather in front of Mitch's Tavern on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

What they're saying: "The last several decades have been really difficult," Terry Gannon, a member of the N.C. State team that won in 1983, told the Athletic's Brendan Marks.

  • "One of the great joys as an N.C. State ex-player that I have, is that this current generation of N.C. State fans and the current students are finally getting to experience and understand what their parents and grandparents have been talking about for the last four decades."

What we're watching: The men's Wolfpack team was written off heading into the ACC Tournament, with coach Kevin Keatts' future at the school in doubt.

  • Now, with real momentum and renewed expectations, N.C. State is once again a contending program for winning championships and making deep runs into the postseason.
  • "We have a story" now, Keatts told reporters after the game, reflecting on what this run will mean going forward. "And when you're in any sport, you want to have a story."
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