At 2-10 in the ACC, N.C. State could have checked out for the season. Instead, the Wolfpack has its first conference winning streak and an overall record of 16-13 with two games left in the regular season.
Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe would like to see his team rewarded with an NIT bid for their resilience.
"I think it would be great for our team," Lowe said. "From a standpoint, you know what, your continued hard work and continued great attitude has paid off and you're going to continue to play."
On the plus side, N.C. State has three wins over ACC teams likely to make the NCAA Tournament (Duke, Florida State and Wake Forest) and a nonconference win over Marquette.
On the flip side, State lost to Arizona, Northwestern and UNC — three teams also on the NIT "bubble" (if such a thing exists).
Before the NCAA took over the NIT, the "name" programs had the first crack at the 32-team field. Since 2007, the NIT has opened more spots from lesser-known conferences — rewarding regular-season conference champions, for example — and moved away from the "Hey, Big Name U can sell 8,000 tickets, they're in" philosophy.
Actually, with so many big names — UNC, UCLA and Arizona — in the NIT mix, the Wolfpack's chances are further diminished unless they can continue to win.
Lowe's first team, in 2007, made the NIT field after reaching the ACC Tournament championship game. The past two State teams have missed the postseason entirely.