Lail: Fairly Predictable

I'm not very proud to admit it, but I missed Wednesday night's NC State basketball game at Clemson because I received a free pass to watch a screening of a new movie.

I'm not very proud to admit it, but I missed Wednesday night's NC State basketball game at Clemson because I received a free pass to watch a screening of a new movie. (Hey, I may make poor decisions at times, but passing up a free flick is not one of them.) The strange thing is I wasn't concerned about missing the game, though I'm not sure which thought process I used to rationalize it. Was I so convinced that the Pack would win going away that I need not watch? Or did the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach warn me that I should avert my eyes from the tube? In hindsight, it was probably the latter.

Either way, I elected to catch the movie, "Euro Trip." (By the way, if you liked "Old School" and "Road Trip," you'll love it; if you liked "The English Patient," stay the hell away.) In the movie, the protagonist, Scotty, has just graduated high school when he is unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend ("Smallville's" Kristin Kreuk) for being "so predictable." In a un-Scotty like decision our hero, along with his slacker-yet-law-intern buddy Cooper, heads across the Pond to get into all sorts of crazy, whacky misadventures.

While the movie itself was formulaic and predictable, and often uproariously funny, it also attempted to show how (yes, I know this is a stretch) doing the unpredictable can be very satisfying and often worthwhile.

Which brings me (finally, you say) to the ever-present defeatist culture that is being an NC State fan. Who among us didn't have at least a hint of doubt that the Pack was going to find a way to lose the game at Clemson? Some in the local media - obviously non-State grads or fans - stated that there was no way the Pack would lose at Clemson. Ah ha! We Pack fans knew better.

You know why? Predictability.

Fate, Karma, the gods, the odds or whatever has dictated time and time and time again that as soon as you think State (FILL IN THE SPORT NAME HERE) is on its way to the top of the league, something extremely unfortunate will happen. Let's call it Wendell Murphy's 3rd Law: "Anything that can go wrong to the beloved Wolfpack will go wrong."

There are almost too many examples to get into, but I'd guess that every football and basketball schedule since the early-1990s has at least one loss on it that should never have happened. And usually those games happen after a big win, after the newspapers are crowing that the "Pack is Back!" And in most cases, the losses happen when the Pack is "controlling its own destiny," so to speak. In football one can look to the 2002 season when an undefeated Pack team lost to nemesis Georgia Tech at home in a heartbreaker. Or even this past season when the Pack, thanks to Clemson beating Florida State, had to beat FSU and Maryland to claim first place in the conference but dropped both in heartbreaking fashion. Or go back to several years ago when NCSU football knocked off Florida State and followed it up with a loss to Baylor. BAYLOR!?

And this isn't a "hindsight's 20/20" scenario. No less than four NC State fans stated before last night's game to me that they were either "scared to death," "not feeling good about it" or "expecting to lose" the game.

The "whacky" and "crazy" thing that NC State could've done against Clemson was to win. Now THAT would've been unpredictable. And very satisfying.

'Now' Regular Season ACC Basketball Standings
1. Duke:
Blue Devils are not has dominating in ACC play as they have been in the past; however, no one is else is as good.
2. NC State: T'is better to drop a game that you shouldn't in mid-February instead of in mid-March.
3. Wake Forest: Deacs may be hitting their stride at the right time.
4. Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets have the pieces to be a Sweet Sixteen team, but will they jell enough to get there?
5. Florida State: Seminoles' tough upcoming schedule may prevent them from staying in this position - or even getting to the NCAA Tournament.
6. North Carolina: The Tar Heels may make the Selection Committee sweat a little.
7. Maryland: Most experts predict seven ACC teams in the Big Dance, but Terps have a tough road to hoe.
8. Virginia: Amazingly enough, the Cavaliers seem to be getting better - which is a very un-Pete Gillen-like season.
9. Clemson: In the dog-eat-dog world of ACC basketball, someone has to be last. Unfortunately, dogs don't really like cats.

'Later' ACC Basketball Standings
1. Duke
2. NC State
3. Wake Forest
4. Georgia Tech
5. Florida State
6. North Carolina
7. Boston College
8. Maryland
9. Virginia
10. Clemson
11. Miami
12. Virginia Tech

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