In other words, it was just another day at the office for the Wolfpack.
With its stirring 66-63 victory over No. 11 Syracuse in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday, the Pack can finally hoist a signature win over a marquee opponent for the NCAA selection committee to see. N.C. State, which has come tantalizingly close often this season, is peaking at the right time.
It was the fourth straight win after the head-scratching loss at home to Miami two weeks ago that seemed to kill any chances to punch a ticket to the Big Dance.
However, as Wolfpack Nation has seen often over the years, N.C. State seems to do its best work when its backs are against the wall. The Pack conjured up some magic in its rematch against the Orange, after a horrible loss to Syracuse at the Carrier Dome exactly one month ago. State has given the committee members who chose entry into the NCAA Tournament something to think about.
Speaking to media after the win, N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried, who now has 69 wins in his first three seasons in charge of the Pack, has some optimism that his team will be earn a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season.
"Well, I hope we are a legitimate contender, I really do," Gottfried said. "I look at our team and people forget we played four games early without Jordan Vandenberg and lost two of them, one to North Carolina Central and the other to Cincinnati. We had a young team that got better. We're not the same team now that we were in November and December."
On Saturday, N.C. State will have another chance to exact revenge on a team that thumped the Pack during the regular season. Duke defeated Clemson 63-62 n the final quarterfinal matchup on Friday. The Triangle rivals faced each other in Durham in mid-January and the Blue Devils routed the Wolfpack 95-60.
At stake on Saturday is a berth in the ACC Tournament Final and another potential top-tier win for Gottfried's squad. The last time the neighbors faced each other in the postseason was in 2007, when N.C. State upended Duke 85-80 in each march to its last appearance in the championship game.
After his team's grueling win, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke about the pending game and what he has seen from N.C. State this season.
"I am not surprised at N.C. State," Krzyzewski said. "N.C. State is playing great basketball. Mark has got his team at a real high level of belief. Warren is playing lights-out basketball. He has had a great year but the last few weeks he has been unbelievable. He never seems to get tired. They are playing really good but when you have a guy playing like that, you become even better."
"[Saturday] will be a very difficult game for us," Krzyzewski added. "I don't know where these bubbles are and all that, where their team is with the NCAA. [Friday's] win against Syracuse has to go a long way."
On Saturday, N.C. State once again will tip off in a game with everything at stake. Such is the life of the Wolfpack. It is what State knows best.