Wolfpack nirvana, uneven 3-point lines and a bumper barrage in the sports moments of the week :: WRALSportsFan.com

Wolfpack nirvana, uneven 3-point lines and a bumper barrage in the sports moments of the week :: WRALSportsFan.com

The internet is a big place. Unless you’re 100% plugged in all the time (and let’s be clear, that is NOT recommended), you’re going to miss some stuff.

Let us do that work. You can be a well-adjusted human being and still catch all the best sports moments of the week, with a quick review …


I thought for sure that last week was going to be the best 7-day stretch all year for NC State.


Instead, the Wolfpack men’s and women’s basketball teams went out and delivered arguably the best 48 hours in NC State athletics history, scoring four (count ’em, FOUR) upset victories and each earning tickets to the Final Four.

But make no mistake. Neither of these March Madness runs has been anywhere close to a fluke. All four Wolfpack wins last week came by at least 9 points.

Although doubted and discounted by some, both teams have proved that they belong among the nation’s elite… which is good because they each has their toughest test yet on deck.

The women will kick things off on Friday night in Cleveland against the juggernaut in the sport this season, No. 1 overall seed and undefeated South Carolina.

The Gamecocks have won 78 of their last 79 games dating back to their national championship run in 2022. That one loss, however, did come in the Final Four last year, when they were upended by Caitlin Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes.

NC State obviously doesn’t have the singular star power of a Caitlin Clark, but they do have a starting group that’s playing as well as anyone right now.

With Saniya Rivers running the show (and getting by basically whoever’s in front of her), Aziaha James on fire from deep and River Baldwin holding down the paint, this Wolfpack team has the talent that can knock off South Carolina if they bring their ‘A’ game.

The same can be said for the men’s team, who is enjoying quite possibly the most improbable run in NCAA Tournament history.

The Wolfpack will clash with No. 1 seed Purdue in Phoenix on Saturday. (Finally, Wolfpack Nation will be able to watch one game at a time.)

It’s no secret that all eyes will be in the paint for this matchup — National Player of the Year Zach Edey vs. the “People’s Champion” DJ Burns.

At 7’4″, Edey is averaging 30 points and 16.3 rebounds during the tournament so far and has consistently got his opponents into foul trouble.

Burns, Mohammed Diarra and Ben Middlebrooks will have their hands full in that respect, especially if Edey continues to get a favorable whistle from the officials.

I expect them to try to turn the tables, attack Edey and try to make him uncomfortable, which should open things up for the rest of the team.

Purdue is a big favorite, but they are beatable.

Keep soaking in the moment, Wolfpack Nation! This is going to be fun.

DJ Burns: Future NFL star?

Let’s take a moment to appreciate DJ Burns a little bit more.

The big fella scored 29 points on 13/19 shooting, absolutely bullied Kyle Filipowski into foul trouble, then trolled Duke fans from the court in the final minutes.

(Tough end to the season for Duke, by the way. They finished 2-5 against the rest of the “Big Four” this season, their worst mark since the infamous 1994-95 campaign.)

Burns was hailed as a hero on social media for beating the Blue Devils (who people love to hate), drew praise from reigning NBA Finals MVP Nikola Jokic and also seems to have a great new, NBA-inspired nickname.

He’s 100% living his best life, and may have just played his way into a pro career… in the NFL.

Wait, what?

It started as kind of a joke online, but it seems that Burns is starting to get some legitimate buzz as an offensive tackle prospect in football because of his big frame.

NFL Network’s Peter Schrager even suggested that Burns could participate in a Pro Day-style workout if he wanted, the week after the Final Four.

Obviously, all focus should be on the basketball court right now, but I’m keeping my eyes on this. Could be a really cool sequel to an already incredible story.

Wolfpack women win on uneven court

This edition of Women’s March Madness is the most hyped its been in years.

On the floor, the players have delivered on that hype so far and played an outstanding tournament.

As for the NCAA? Not great, Bob!

We had our latest example on Sunday, as NC State took the floor against Texas for their Elite Eight matchup in Portland… with uneven 3-point lines.

That’s right, one side of the court was painted with different dimensions than the other side. Before a nationally televised, regional championship game.

If it was a one-time incident, you might be able to excuse this kind of error as a funny quirk. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it before.

But when you stack it up next to all the other B.S. that’s gone on this tournament from a referee officiating her alma mater (also involving NC State), to a team being made to stay in a far-away hotel where they endured racial abuse, to a player erroneously being forced to remove her nose ring… it comes across as downright negligent.

The Wolfpack and Longhorns agreed to play on the lopsided court and, thankfully, it didn’t seem to impact the game. But that didn’t stop fans from roasting the association for yet another blunder.

The lines were fixed in time for Monday’s Iowa-LSU title game rematch. And really, they could have painted the 3-point lines out to the logo and it wouldn’t have impacted Caitlin Clark, who dropped 41 points in a Hawkeyes win.

Let’s hope things are a little more buttoned-up in Cleveland.

UNC men, Duke women bow out in Sweet Sixteen

All but one team in each tournament bracket ends in disappointment, and that was the case for the Duke women and North Carolina men this week, both of whom bowed out in the Sweet Sixteen.

For Duke, making it this far should be considered a very good step forward. It’s the first time under Kara Lawson that the Blue Devils have made it to the second weekend and their toughness, especially on defense, is certainly something to build on moving forward.

The culture is in place, now the question is how locked in is Lawson?

The 43-year old is reportedly a top candidate to become the next head coach at Tennessee, a traditional powerhouse and Lawson’s alma mater.

If they can get her to remain in Durham, Duke is set up nicely for the foreseeable future. Their head coach is a hooper.

As for North Carolina, going out in the Sweet Sixteen hits a little differently when you’re a No. 1 seed and when it means the end for great players like Armando Bacot and RJ Davis.

Both seniors leave an impressive legacy at UNC, but you can bet both are still bitterly disappointed by their 2-point loss to Alabama.

For Davis, it was simply an unfortunate time to have one of his worst shooting performances of the season. He finished 4/20 from the field and 0/9 from 3-point range. If just one of those deep balls goes down, we might be talking about a different result.

It’s hard to fault Bacot too much after he anchored the Tar Heels all game with 19 points and 12 rebounds. But his missed dunk with 6:42 to play looms large as one of the two great “what ifs” down the stretch.

(Jae’Lyn Withers’ ill-advised 3-point attempt with 1:02 left is the other.)

North Carolina is in the business of reloading, not rebuilding so they’ll be back on this stage soon, but seeing Davis and Bacot’s college career end like this (while also watching NC State’s magical run) is going to sting a while for the Tar Heel faithful.

Sir, please put down the bumper!

If you were at Richmond Raceway this Saturday, you may have briefly confused the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ ToyotaCare 250 for a Will Ferrell movie.

That’s because, after spinning out of the race, driver Joey Gase got mad, ripped off the bumper from his race car and threw it at a competitor’s moving vehicle!

Gase explained later that he was angry at Dawson Cram (he’s the one that got hit with the bumper) and blamed the spin-out on him. Gase and Cram have a little history of being unfriendly, so this was a boiling point in an already-salty relationship.

Baseball is back (and so is football, kind of)

Major League Baseball opening week (USA edition) delighted fans across the country, and also gave us our first glimpse at a few teams that could be historically bad.

The hapless and tragic Oakland A’s lead the pack in that regard, but it looks like the Colorado Rockies are right behind them.

The Rockies were locked in a scoreless tie Monday against the Cubs, until some comically bad fielding caused the wheels to come off.

With runners at first and second, Christopher Morel hit a routine single to left field, but Colorado’s Nolan Jones let the ball roll under his glove and then all the way back to the wall.

A pair of runs scored, but to make matters worse, the cutoff throw went awry as well, allowing Morel to score and complete an unofficial inside-the-park home run straight out of Little League.

If baseball’s not really your thing, there is professional football to watch as well.

The new UFL season is underway, and featured a mind-bending, momentum-turning trick play in Week 1.

Witness former NFL (and LSU) punter Brad Wing, who now plays for the San Antonio Brahmas, take the direct snap on a fake field goal, go through his progressions like a veteran quarterback, then find his center Alex Mollette for a 41-yard touchdown.

How was this possibly a legal play? I don’t know. But apparently it stood and the Brahmas won, so I need no more information than that.

We’ll see you next week.

Source: wralsportsfan.com