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NC State beats Virginia, throws the bubble for a loop

C.J. Leslie,Mike Scott

North Carolina State forward C.J. Leslie (5) drives to the basket past Virginia forward Mike Scott (23) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012. Virginia won 61-60. (AP Photo/Jim R. Bounds)


NC State got a win they absolutely had to have on Friday afternoon, riding the coattails of CJ Leslie (19 points, 14 boards, three assists) and Lorenzon Brown (15 points, eight assists) to a 67-64 win over Virginia.

The result creates an incredibly interesting bubble scenario.

A few weeks ago, NC State was dead in the water. They had just lost four in a row, capped by an overtime loss to Clemson, that dropped them to 7-7 in the ACC and ended any chance that they would have a marquee regular season win. But Mark Gottfried’s club has now won four in a row, but that’s not the biggest difference in their resume.

All of a sudden, NC State has four top 50 wins. While beating Virginia was their doing, they also sat back and watched as Texas and Miami, who they swept, climbed into the top 50 wins recent wins and the losses of a number of teams on the bubble. All of a sudden, the Wolfpack have a profile that rivals the best of the bubble.

And therein lies the question. NC State was down 18 to Texas back in November when J’Covan Brown, one of the only upper-classmen on a team full of freshmen, fouled out with eight minutes left. The Wolfpack came storming back and won that game. How much credit should they get for that win?

Friday’s win over Virginia is probably their best win of the season, but right now the question that has to be asked is just how good the Cavs are. This is a team that has lost six of their last ten games to go from a potential top four seed to a team on the bubble. Their only quality win was at home against a Michigan team that had just flown back from the Maui Invitational.

The bubble is very, very weak this season thanks to the lack of bids earned (and stolen) during Championship Week. I know that. But I still have to question whether NC State -- and, for that matter, Virginia -- has done enough to deserve a bid.

Luckily for UVA, people still remember how well they started out the season, so they may still be safe.

But if I was NC State, I would be sure to beat North Carolina on Saturday. It would go a long way towards ensuring some sleep heading into Selection Sunday.