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March 18, 2013
NC State figured no matter who they played in the NCAA Tournament it would be a quality opponent.
NC State (24-10) found out Sunday it earned the No. 8 seed and square off against No. 9-seeded Temple (23-9) on Friday in Dayton, Ohio.
"We are awfully excited about playing," NCSU second-year coach Mark Gottfried said. "I call it the greatest show on earth, and I believe that. Our guys need to feel, which I think they are, very excited about their opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament.
"We are sitting here with 24 wins prior to the NCAA Tournament, and back-to-back, that's 48 wins in two years, [and] back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. These guys have done a phenomenal job in helping to build our program."
The NC State/Temple winner would face either No. 1 seed Indiana or its opponent, which is the winner of James Madison vs. Long Island-Brooklyn.
The Wolfpack defeated San Diego State and Georgetown before falling to Kansas last year in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The team is different, but four starters do return from last year's squad.
"I believe we can play with anybody or beat anybody," Gottfried said. "I'm sure Temple is a very confident team too. When you reach this point of the year, you aren't going to find a bad basketball team."
The Owls won nine out of their last 11 games to solidify a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Temple went 5-3 in games against teams which reached the tourney. The Atlantic 10 featured five teams in the NCAA Tournament - Temple, Saint Louis, Virginia Commonwealth, Butler - and the Owls also played Kansas, Duke, Villanova and Syracuse in non-conference action.
Temple fell 79-74 to UMass on Friday in the Atlantic 10 Tournament. UMass, Duke and St. Bonaventure are three common opponents between Temple and NC State, with the Owls going 1-3 against them.
Temple finished with four games against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game - highlighted by a 83-79 win over then No. 3-ranked Syracuse on Dec. 22 - and also defeated then No. 21-ranked Virginia Commonwealth 84-76 on March 10 to close out the regular season.
"They beat Syracuse and Villanova in the non-conference and they've played in a tremendous league this year," Gottfried said. "The A-10 with Butler, Saint Louis, VCU, a lot of really good teams in that league."
Gottfried has never coached against Temple's Fran Dunphy before. Dunphy has earned respect over the last three decades after taking Pennsylvania to the NCAA Tournament nine times in 15 years. He then made the move across town to Temple for the 2006-2007 season, and has taken the Owls to the Big Dance six out of his seven years. Dunphy, who graduated from La Salle in 1970, has gone 467-236 in 24 years overall, and 157-73 at Temple.
South Florida knocked off Temple 58-44 last year in the Owls first game of the NCAA Tournament.
"They are very well coached and Fran Dunphy does a phenomenal job," Gottfried said. "They are a team that is very proven. They have done it all year long."
Senior combo guard Khalif Wyatt has had a huge year for the Owls. The 6-foot-4, 215-pounder is averaging 19.8 points and 4.1 assists per game, and has gone 71 of 218 from three-point land for 32.6 percent. Wyatt has topped 30 points in five games this season.
"They have an elite player, a elite level, high-level guy in Khalif Wyatt," Gottfried said. "He's a terrific player."
Temple features three players with at least 54 made three-pointers, and the squad has gone 233 of 698 for 33.4 percent on the season. The Owls have attempted 240 more three-pointers this season than NC State.
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