Last week, we looked at the Dangerous Outsiders, the Royal Blues, and the Title Snipers. See the box below for those links. This week, we turn to four legitimate championship contenders, starting with the Wolfpack of NC State.
Today marks my only deviation from the consensus top five. Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State? Sure, they're among the sparkling elites. But no. 5 Michigan? I'm not sold, for reasons enumerated last week in the Title Snipers post. Instead, my pick for the fifth contender comes from ACC country, where the NC State Wolfpack might be about to emerge from the shadows of Duke and Carolina for the first time since 1987 — the last year they won a conference championship.
NC State: The Weight of Expectation
The Gist: If there's any fan base in college sports with a defeatist attitude that compares to the misery of pre-2004 Red Sox Nation, it's NC State's. There's a motto in Raleigh to honor this mind-set, a depressive epithet that waits on the lips of every Wolfpack fan, ready to be uttered at a moment's notice: "NC State shit." Urban Dictionary defines it as "an inevitable chain of events in a sports [sic] where a blatant bad call or bizarre unlucky play causes a total collapse of confidence, resulting in multiple, unforced, and devastating errors." That UNC punt return for a touchdown last Saturday, when the game looked like it would head to overtime? That's NC State shit all the way. Any other fan base might see their team included among the preseason national title contenders and be happy, but I can guarantee the Wolfpack reaction goes like this: "NOOOOOOOO!"