Lail: A Little Help From His Friends?

Just a few thoughts before eating some beans and really "ringing" in the New Year ...

*Despite a horrible outing against Gonzaga (and "despite" a lopsided win over an outmatched Fairleigh Dickinson), NC State's men's basketball team remained in the ESPN/USA Today Top 25 this week. In fact, the Pack actually moved up a spot, begging the question:

Does Herb Sendek have a lot of friends in the biz?

A quick look at the coaching members of the voting panel shows a couple of gentlemen who may be more inclined than others to pull the lever for the Pack: former Pack player Eddie Biedenbach (UNC-Asheville's coach); Fairleigh Dickinson coach Tom Green; South Carolina coach Dave Odom, a childhood State fan whose team has already lost to the Pack this season; and Maryland's Gary Williams, one of Sendek's brethren from the ACC.

Hmm ... four out of over 30 possible candidates is not very convincing. Maybe the voters actually think the Pack is a legit Top 25 team. While one could make the argument that Wake Forest and Gonzaga (duh!) should be ranked ahead of the Pack, the fact remains that at this point State is probably no worse than near the bottom of the top 30 in the country. But it's the end of December, what does it matter? Absolutely nothing. Check back in late-February. Then we'll see how many friends (or enemies, for that matter) Sendek has.

*Talk about spin. Clemson sends an estimated 8,000 fans to the Tangerine Bowl to face an explosive Texas Tech and the excuse is that Tigers faithful are more family-oriented than others and didn't want to miss family time over the holidays. That makes sense ... until you realize that the Las Vegas Bowl, featuring UCLA and a ho-hum New Mexico team, drew over 30,000 - on Christmas Day. And the Hawaii Bowl, also on Christmas Day, drew over 35,000. (Yes, I know the home-island Warriors played in it, but the other team was Tulane. New Orleans ain't exactly right around the corner from Maui.)

*Ordinarily when teams "turn back the clock" and sport "old-school" uniforms, the whole event produces comments from fans such as "Aaaaah!!" "Thank God they don't wear those anymore!" and "(Your favorite team name here) actually used to wear those?" That wasn't the case on December 14 when NC State took on N.C. A&T in historic Reynolds Coliseum. The throwback uniforms worn by the Pack were not throwaways. They were classy, attractive and respectful of State's proud history. Not that there wasn't an opportunity to don some heinous numbers. The Pack could've sported the infamous unitard. Or perhaps the Todd Fuller-era zebra-striped, angled monstrosity. Heck, the Pack could have busted out some British Knights or LA Gears, just for old time's sake.

The 2002-03 version of the Pack's unis are easy on the eyes, but the version Sendek's team wore against A&T was, to me, a combination of two of the best. It had a 1983-era top with block letters saying simply "STATE," and the trunks were reminiscent of the early-90s and the Corchiani-Monroe-Googs days with "PACK" written on the front.

I like what Michigan State has done in recent years with just "STATE" written on the tops. NCSU should at least wear "STATE" on its jerseys for home games. And for that matter, State should play more home games in Reynolds.

ACC Basketball Standings - One Man's Opinion

1. Duke: The Blue Devils are on top, but there are a host of teams aiming for Coach K's squad.
2. (tie) Maryland, NC State, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest: All are looking solid so far, but all also have questions.
7. Georgia Tech: The 'Cuse was in the house, oh my God, oh my God.
8. Clemson: Tigers looked tough against Cincy, but can it last?
9. Florida State: Coach Ham has his work cut out for him in Tallahassee. But as long as his players go to class and stay out of trouble, he's doing all right.

Bowl Predictions:

Gator Bowl: The Wolfpack needs to not get caught up in the mystic of the Notre Dame tradition. Get past that, and State will be fine. For some reason, I don't think Chuck Amato will have a hard time doing that. NC State 24, Notre Dame 17

Houston Bowl: Oklahoma State 35, Southern Miss 28

Holiday Bowl: Kansas State 27, Arizona State 10

Independence Bowl: Nebraska 28, Ole Miss 14

Continental Tire Bowl: West Virginia 42, Virginia 35

Alamo Bowl: Colorado 24, Wisconsin 10

Music City Bowl: Arkansas 27, Minnesota 14

Seattle Bowl: Oregon 38, Wake Forest 31

Humanitarian Bowl: Boise State 28, Iowa State 7

Sun Bowl: Washington 42, Purdue 10

Liberty Bowl: TCU 27, Colorado State 24

Silicon Valley Bowl: Georgia Tech 20, Fresno State 10

Peach Bowl: Tennessee 32, Maryland 27

San Francisco Bowl: Air Force 32, Virginia Tech 17

Cotton Bowl: LSU 44, Texas 17

Outback Bowl: Michigan 17, Florida 13

Capital One Bowl: Penn State 20, Auburn 17

Rose Bowl: Washington State 28, Oklahoma 24

Sugar Bowl: Georgia 35, Florida State 17

Orange Bowl: USC 36, Iowa 29

Fiesta Bowl: Miami 28, Ohio State 14

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Matt Lail is the former Managing Editor of As a student at NC State, he was the Sports Editor of Technician. He has also worked for the News & Observer and as the Managing Editor of The Wolfpacker.

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