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Final ACC stretch favors Wolfpack

Despite needing to make up a game on Virginia and North Carolina, N.C. State is still in good shape to land one of the four byes in the ACC tournament.

With four games left, the Wolfpack is one of four teams vying for two spots in Friday's quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. Miami (13-1) and Duke (11-3) will take the top two spots, likely in that order, which leaves two spots for UNC (9-5), Virginia (9-5), N.C. State (8-6) and Maryland (7-7).

Early spotlight games for Wolfpack, Tar Heels

North Carolina and N.C. State will both get an early turn in the 2013 college football season in the national spotlight.

In November, the Wolfpack, Tar Heels and Duke will all get a shot at each other on the field.

The ACC released the dates of the football schedule on Monday, it previously released the opponents. UNC will open the season at South Carolina on Aug. 29 on ESPN. The Tar Heels, who went 8-4 in Larry Fedora's first season in 2012, will also host another Thursday night game on ESPN.

Three Points: Challenges, not-so-subtle differences and a Duke comparison

Three Points from N.C. State's 76-65 loss at UNC:

1) C.J. Leslie, period.

Mark Gottfried tried benching C.J. Leslie and he tried letting him play through his problems on Saturday at the Smith Center.

Since he was hired 22 months ago, Gottfried has run through just about every option in the coach-player relationship handbook with Leslie. Gottfried calls Leslie "Calvin" instead of C.J., he has made him the primary option of the offense, he has coddled him and he has disciplined him.

For the most part, he has coaxed the best out of Leslie, who has led the team in scoring over the course of Gottfried's 64-game tenure.

Three Points: T.J. Warren, rebounding and woe is FSU

Three Points from N.C. State's 84-66 win over Florida State:

1) Hi, my name is ...

… Tony Warren Jr. The 6-8 forward had the best game of his freshman season on Tuesday with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Warren scored with his usual array of "old man" moves, quirky shots from within 8 feet of the basket that don't always look pretty but usually go in, plus he made both of his 3-pointers and all five of his free throws.

Warren's real value on Tuesday was on the offensive glass, where he had eight of his season-best 13 rebounds. Warren had more offensive rebounds against FSU, which relies on three 7-footers, than he had total rebounds in any other ACC game.

Pack throttles FSU, 84-66

N.C. State saved its best, or at least its most complete win, for the 2011-12 ACC champions.

With a decisive rebounding edge and its defense clicking, the Wolfpack throttled Florida State 84-66 on Tuesday night for its first dominant win in league play this season.

"We needed a game like this," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said. "We needed to play well and feel good about how we played."

Three Points: Juggernaut status, average MoV and ACC Final Four teams

Three Points from N.C. State's 90-86 win over Virginia Tech:

1) Reality check

Twenty-five games is enough of a sample to determine what this N.C. State team isn't. This N.C. State team is not a juggernaut. Saturday's dogfight with the last-place team in the ACC is just the latest example of that.

There are no easy ACC wins for this N.C. State team, despite having the most talented lineup in the conference. For large portions of Saturday's game, Virginia Tech relied on some combination of Will Johnston, Joey van Zegeren and Marshall Wood. And N.C. State still needed overtime to dispatch the Hokies, who fell to 2-10 in the ACC.

Brown helps Pack clip Hokies in OT

RALEIGH — Lorenzo Brown's free throws, and key steal in overtime, led N.C. State to 90-86 win over Virginia Tech.

Brown hit all four of his free throws in the final 26.2 seconds to put the game away for the Wolfpack, which led by 3 in the final seconds of regulation but couldn't close out the last-place Hokies, who have lost eight straight.

State led 78-75 with 5.2 seconds left in regulation when Brown fouled Erick Green (29 points). Green made the first throw and then missed the second, on purpose, which Jarell Eddie putback to send the game into overtime.

Wood's big shot helps Pack in a lot of ways

It's impossible to overestimate the value of Scott Wood's 3-pointer with 1 second left to beat Clemson, 58-57 on the road on Sunday.

The Wolfpack's season was not miraculously saved by one shot. As N.C. State has proven all along, it is only as good as its next game. What the win did do is throw a life line to the 2013 season.

Three Points: Defending the 3, 5 minutes to forget and praise for Howell

Three Points from N.C. State's 98-85 loss at Duke:

1) Defending the 3

Duke made 10 3-pointers in the first half, four more than it had in the entire first game against N.C. State. Seth Curry and Quinn Cook made four 3-pointers each and Rasheed Sulaimon added two.

Duke outscored N.C. State 30-3 from the 3-point line in the first half to take a 58-37 lead. Of the 10 3s, on 17 attempts, nine came at the expense of one of N.C State's three freshmen on defense, seven were uncontested and two were in transition.

As N.C. State forward Richard Howell noted, and prefaced with a Samuel L. Jackson-type expletive, "They couldn't miss."

Duke fans taunt N.C. State's Lewis

Some Duke fans taunted N.C. State freshman Tyler Lewis about his late grandmother in Thursday's game, Lewis' father said Friday.

Lewis went to the foul line at 13:47 in the second half of Thursday's loss at Duke. Most fans in the Duke student section chanted, "Past your bed time," a playful jab at Lewis' youthful appearance.

Other Duke fans, according to Rick Lewis, chanted "How's your grandma?" Margie Lewis, Rick's mom and Tyler's grandmother, passed away on Feb. 1. Rick Lewis was at Thursday's game, sitting behind N.C. State's bench.

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