NC State gets a shot at No. 1 Syracuse
C.J. Williams and his North Carolina State teammates were
already excited about getting highly ranked Syracuse in front of a
rowdy red-clad crowd. Having the Orange rise to No. 1 in time for
Saturday’s game only adds to that buzz.
”Any time you play a top-five team, it’s a great opportunity
for you to make a statement,” Williams said Friday. ”And that’s
what we’re looking to do. We’re looking to show that we’re not just
a team that’s going to compete with you.”
It’s hardly the first time N.C. State (6-3) has faced the
nation’s top-ranked team at home. After all, Atlantic Coast
Conference rivals Duke and North Carolina are within a 30-minute
drive of campus and have brought the No. 1 ranking here 11
But this is only the second time a nonconference No. 1 will play
in Raleigh. The other time came when Notre Dame edged the Wolfpack
53-52 in February 1979.
First-year coach Mark Gottfried said ”it seems like there’s a
lot of pep in the step” from his players in practice leading up to
”One thing I’ve always tried to do is understand throughout a
27- to 30-game schedule, you’ve got to treat them all the same,”
Gottfried said. ”Your approach has to be the same. So I understand
when a team becomes No. 1 in the country like they are, that raises
the stakes. Outside of that, it’s a good opportunity for our
program but it’s the next game on the schedule.”
Syracuse (10-0) hasn’t played since taking over at No. 1
following road losses by Kentucky and Ohio State. It hasn’t played
since beating George Washington at home by 35 last weekend.
It’s also the first game for the Orange outside the state of New
”It is our first road game and a really good place to play, a
tough place to play,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. ”They are
a team that could have won all the games that they lost. It’s going
to be a great test for us.”
The Orange won last year’s meeting 65-59 in the Carrier Dome,
though N.C. State led by six midway through the second half before
Syracuse held the Wolfpack to two field goals in the final 10
While most of the team returned from last year, no Wolfpack
player has ever been a part of a win against a No. 1-ranked team.
N.C. State is 5-25 all-time against No. 1, with the last win coming
at home against Duke in 2004.
The Wolfpack’s other two home wins against No. 1 both came
against the Tar Heels, in 1986 and 1995.
Williams, at least, has seen the Wolfpack succeed against highly
ranked opponents. He was a freshman when N.C. State beat Wake
Forest and a sophomore when the Wolfpack beat eventual national
champion Duke, with both teams ranked seventh at the time.
The biggest change is that this No. 1 is a future ACC member,
not a current one.
”I don’t think it’s any different, though,” Williams said,
”because No. 1 is No. 1.”
AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse, N.Y., contributed to