There were some seasons in women’s college basketball where you could do the same. This is not one of those seasons. North Carolina State (17-0) stands alone as the only undefeated team left right now.
Before we get back to the Wolfpack, consider what’s happened so far:
- It’s the first time since 2014 there has been a battle for the top spot in the rankings traditionally dominated by the University of Connecticut.
- We’ve had two different teams at the No. 1 spot in the AP poll: Notre Dame and UConn. That counts as a major shakeup for the rankings. Per the AP’s Doug Feinberg, only five teams have been No 1 since the 2008 preseason poll. Football has had 14 and men’s hoops 21.
- Preseason No.1 Notre Dame fell to UConn 89-71 at the Jimmy V Classic, losing the top spot in the polls.
- Then, UConn lost at Baylor. That was the Huskies’ first regular-season loss since 2014 — a streak of 126 consecutive games.
- Last week, Notre Dame had a deciding win over Louisville — resulting in the Cardinals no longer being undefeated for the season.
N.C. State is eighth in the latest AP poll. That continues an upward trend under coach Wes Moore, who led the Wolfpack to the NCAA tournament in 2017 and 2018 and in 2013-14, his first season in Raleigh.
— #8 NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) January 14, 2019
Let’s look at how North Carolina State got to its 17 wins and the chances they can run the table.
Not taking any L’s
The Wolfpack’s closest games came earlier this season on Nov. 22 against Michigan State. They won, 78-74. The next day at the Cancun Challenge they were able to handle George Washington, winning 69-61.
Michigan gave the squad a test at the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, but N.C. State was able to pull through with a 66-55 victory.
N.C. State is still winning entering conference play. The Wolfpack should be able to handle their conference schedule for the month of January before some tests in February. We’ll get to that later.
Grace Hunter and Armani Hawkins out for the season
Unfortunately for N.C. State, the injury bug has bit them.
During the team’s game against Duke on Jan. 3, Grace Hunter, the team’s leading scorer, tore her ACL which resulted in her missing the rest of the season as she will need surgery.
Hunter, a starter, is a redshirt junior who transferred from Charlotte after the 2016-17 season. She was averaging 14.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game at the time of her injury.
Armani Hawkins sustained a torn ACL injury one week later in N.C. State’s win over Pittsburgh. In 13 games, Hawkins tallied 54 points, eight assists and 12 rebounds.
— #8 NC State WBB 🐺🏀 (@PackWomensBball) January 17, 2019
The numbers this season
15 of the Wolfpack’s 17 games have been won by double digits.
774 is the total amount of rebounds N.C. State has accumulated in 17 games, which ranks fifth in the nation.
32 is the number of defensive rebounds the squad is averaging a game, which puts them at third in the nation.
19.8 is the average scoring margin the Wolfpack has beaten opponents by.
The toughest games for N.C. State
Although the Wolfpack look solid, a tough ACC conference schedule is ahead of them. There are four ACC teams in the top 12, including N.C. State.
N.C. State should be the favorite to win the rest of its games in January.
However, hearts could be broken near Valentine’s Day. On February 13, N.C. State will have to face Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. The Orange are currently ranked No. 12 with a 14-2 overall record. Their two losses were against No. 5 Oregon by two and No. 23 Minnesota by four on the road.
After that, the Wolfpack’s next toughest game will be against the current No. 1 Notre Dame at the annual Play4Kay game on Feb. 18. N.C. State will have home court advantage that game, but Notre Dame has looked impressive this season.
Last but not least, N.C. State will face No. 4 Louisville on Feb. 28 before the ACC tournament at the beginning of March.
The journey to an undefeated season will be tough for N.C. State, but it’s certainly not impossible. Plus, anything can happen when we head to March and the Wolfpack so far this season have proved they could go far in the NCAA tournament.