College Basketball

NC State hoops schedule more steak than sizzle

N.C. State's Trevor Lacey puts in two during the Wolfpack’s 60-54 victory over Boise State on Nov. 28, 2014. The win boosted State's record vs. the top 100 of the RPI, a factor in NCAA tournament selection.
N.C. State's Trevor Lacey puts in two during the Wolfpack’s 60-54 victory over Boise State on Nov. 28, 2014. The win boosted State's record vs. the top 100 of the RPI, a factor in NCAA tournament selection. ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State’s nonconference schedule makes up for its lack of name-brand appeal with selection-committee appeal.

Michigan, Missouri, Arizona State and a possible rematch with Louisiana State in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y., highlight N.C. State’s nonconference basketball schedule, which was released Friday.

There’s no flashy spotlight game with Kentucky or Kansas, but coach Mark Gottfried annually does his homework to find teams that will help the Wolfpack with the NCAA tournament selection committee.

Northeastern (No. 86 in the RPI last season), High Point (No. 89) and William & Mary (No. 93) fall under the potential “RPI-helper” category for the upcoming schedule. Gottfried said he calculates the five-year RPI average of each potential opponent.

“There’s nothing scientific about it; it’s just our own theory,” Gottfried said recently. “We’re trying to find teams that are going to win.”

One main reason N.C. State has made the NCAA tournament four years in a row has been the strength of its nonconference schedule. N.C. State’s nonconference schedule ranked No. 30 last season, which helped keep the Wolfpack on the right side of the bubble.

Wins over Louisiana Tech, Richmond and Boise State all boosted State’s record vs. the top 100 of the RPI. Even a loss to Wofford, No. 47 in the RPI, didn’t hurt the Wolfpack’s tournament resume.

“Those games make you better,” Gottfried said. “You want to learn about your team in December.”

N.C. State will face Arizona State, led by first-year coach Bobby Hurley, in the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Nov. 23. The Wolfpack will face LSU or Marquette in the second game in Brooklyn. N.C. State nipped LSU 66-65 in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament in March.

The Michigan home game is part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. N.C. State lost 79-72 at Michigan in the Challenge during the 2012-13 season.

The road trips to South Florida (Dec. 13) and Missouri (Dec. 19) are return games in a home-and-home series.

Also note, all of N.C. State’s home games will be played at PNC Arena for the 2015-16 season with the renovation of Reynolds Coliseum. N.C. State usually plays one or two “heritage” games at Reynolds.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

N.C. State’s nonconference basketball schedule for 2015-16:

Nov. 13 William & Mary

Nov. 15 South Alabama

Nov. 18 IUPUI

Nov. 23 vs. Arizona State (at Brooklyn)

Nov. 24 LSU/Marquette (at Brooklyn)

Nov. 27 Winthrop

Dec. 1 Michigan (Big Ten Challenge)

Dec. 5 Bucknell

Dec. 13 at South Florida

Dec. 16 High Point

Dec. 19 at Missouri

Dec. 22 UNC-Greensboro

Dec. 29 Northeastern

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