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NC State’s loss sends it to bubble purgatory

Mar 10, 2012, 4:04 PM EDT

ACC Basketball Tournament - North Carolina State v North Carolina Getty Images

NC State probably got hosed.

CJ Leslie, who was in the middle of having a great game for the Wolfpack, fouled out with eight minutes left after two questionable calls in a row. NC State was down five at the time, but they managed to scrap all the way back to tie the game in the final minute. But with ten seconds left in the game, Kendall Marshall scored the game-winning basket after was looked suspiciously close to being a charge went uncalled. NC State still had a chance, and they nearly took advantage of it, completing a length of the court pass to Richard Howell. But Howell never got a shot off as it looked like he may have been fouled on the catch.

Again, no call. No. 4 UNC wins, 69-67.

And like I said, NC State probably got hosed, which becomes a significant talking point considering that a win likely would have locked up the Wolfpack’s bid to the NCAA Tournament. As it is, NC State has about as bubblicious of a resume as you are going to come across. Their good wins are all against bubble teams — Virginia, Miami twice, Texas — and they finished 9-7 in the ACC with a handful of ugly (read: Clemson) losses.

To be fair, not all of the blame falls on the officials. The NC State coaching staff was completely unaware that Leslie had picked up his fourth foul, which is why he picked up his fifth so quickly without getting pulled. To his credit, Gottfried accepted the blame.

“Miscommunication by our staff. That’s our responsibility,” Gottfried said. “The two fouls happened so fast. Boom, boom.”

(UPDATE: As a couple of commenters have noted, NC State did have some killer turnovers late in the game, including one unforced error that led to Marshall’s game-winning bucket. But does that mean we should over look the fact that NC State found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle late in the game? I say no.)

So, yeah, they needed this win. And they didn’t get it.

Which means that the rest of this weekend is going to entail quite a few hail mary’s for the good folks of Raleigh.

NC State’s attention now turns to the rest of the bubble teams in action. Memphis won and probably ended Marshall’s bid for a trip to the dance, which means that the Wolfpack will now be anxiously awaiting the outcomes of Vanderbilt-Ole Miss, Long Beach State-UC-Santa Barbara and the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

There are some bid thieves out there still, and NC State is primed to get their pocket-picked.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

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