Eight games and the ACC Tournament remain, but N.C. State is flirting with perhaps its most disappointing basketball season ever.
At 12-10 overall and 2-6 in the conference entering Saturday’s game at league-leader Duke (6 p.m.), there’s little chance the team can come close to meeting expectations.
Picked for fourth in the league, the Pack is in some danger of finishing last.
For underachievement, relative to preseason outlooks, there were three other similar seasons.
• 1999-2000: Herb Sendek’s fourth team went 20-14 overall and 6-10 in the league after adding highly-rated freshman Damien Wilkins to a group that included several returnees from a 19-14 team the previous season.
The ’99-’00 team did improve some late, upsetting Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals and winning three games in the NIT.
• 1978-79: Norm Sloan’s 13th and next to last team went 18-12 overall but only 3-9 in the ACC and was skipped by the NCAA and NIT.
With playmaker Clyde Austin and forward Charles Whitney in their junior seasons, the team was predicted to challenge North Carolina and Duke for the league championship.
By mid-December, the Pack was ranked No. 4 nationally and was No. 8 going into a Jan. 10 game against Maryland in Reynolds Coliseum. An 82-81 loss sent the team into an inescapable tailspin that was marked by 10 losses in the final 15 games.
• 1959-60: It was unimaginable that Everett Case, in his 14th season and firmly entrenched as one of the nation’s biggest winners, could have an 11-15, 5-9 team. His previous worst finish was 18-6 overall.
But the ’59-‘60 team was trying to work several newcomers into a lineup that was struggling to overcome the graduations of playmaker Lou Pucillo, forwards Bob MacGillvray and Geroge Stepanovich and center John Richter.
A 14-point loss to Wake Forest in the season’s second game led to a 3-10 start.