NC State

Location: Raleigh, NC

Conference: Atlantic Coast

Mascot: Wolfpack

Coach: Mark Gottfried

Record: 20-13 (10-8 conference)

Kenpom ranking: 38

Good wins: vs Richmond, vs Duke, at Louisville, at UNC

Bad losses: vs Wofford, vs Clemson, at Wake Forest, at BC

Tournament appearances: 26 (current streak: 4)

Best result: Champions (2 times)

NBA alumni: J.J. Hickson, Spud Webb, Vinny Del Negro

Best name: Beejay Anya

Famous alumni: Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Hugh Shelton

The Wolfpack were the team that couldn't decide whether they wanted to play in the NCAA Tournament. One day they'd beat UNC in Chapel Hill. Then they'd get blown out by BC. They'd beat Duke, or Louisville, then lose to Clemson, or Wake Forest. They took Notre Dame to OT, then Georgia Tech took them to OT. But winning six of their last seven regular season games -- and the fact that all four of their non-con losses were to eventual tourney teams -- got NC State in.

Style of play: A cat leading wolves

The Wolfpack have a very good three-guard offense -- Cat Barber's the point who's more comfortable driving than shooting, Ralston Turner's the gunner, and Trevor Lacey is the leading scorer who can fix any problem the team gets into. Defensively, the gameplan is funneling opponents to 6'9 beast BeeJay Anya -- he blocks 14 percent of opponents' shots, best of anybody in the tourney.

Key player: Lacey in your face-y

Even if you guard Trevor Lacey, you're in trouble: Synergy Sports data reveals he's the most effective isolation player in college hoops. An Alabama native, the 6'3 junior played his first two seasons for the Crimson Tide, where Mark Gottfried had been coach. When he realized Bama wasn't working out, transferring to NC State was an easy choice.

The first cut is the deepest

The national champion cuts down the nets. It's such a tradition that there's an official ladder and official scissors of the NCAA Tournament. But it wasn't always that way: NC State coach Everett Case had seen Indiana high school teams do it, and when his squad won the 1947 Southern Conference tournament, he decided to bring the tradition to college. There was no official ladder then -- there was actually no ladder at all, and his team lifted him on their shoulders.