The No. 11-seeded North Carolina State Wolfpack are still Final Four pretenders despite their weekend success in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, which featured two upset wins over No. 6 San Diego State and most recently No. 3 Georgetown in Columbus, Ohio.
The Wolfpack became the first team in the Midwest Region to punch a ticket to the Sweet 16 with their 66-63 win over the Hoyas, and await the winner of No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 10 Purdue on Sunday. With all due respect to the Boilermakers, who escaped No. 7 Saint Mary's in the second round, the Jayhawks are one of college basketball's few elite teams and should roll into the Final 16.
For the sake of this argument, we will assume that Kansas gets past Purdue on Sunday and moves into NC State's fourth-round bracket. After all the Jayhawks are undefeated, 1-0 against the Big Ten this season (they defeated No. 2-ranked Ohio State 78-67 at home in December).
The Jayhawks have way more size inside than the Wolfpack, with Kansas' 6'10" Thomas Robinson and seven-footer Jeff Withey towering over NC State's smaller, leaner guards and forwards. NC State's top rebounder Richard Howell will need loads of help from teammate C.J. Leslie in order to corral any loose balls and wayward rebounds.
Where will NC State's tourney run end?
That task will be easier said than done however, and the Wolfpack will still have to deal with the Jayhawks' ability to score from virtually anywhere on the court. Kansas scored more than 75 points per game during the regular season and boast not one, but two 17-plus PPG scorers in Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
Even the red-hot factor favors the Jayhawks in the next round. NC State has won six of its past seven games, while the Jayhawks have won 10 of their last 11 games heading into Sunday's third round matchup with Purdue.
NC State is much better than their No. 11 seed would indicate, but they have leaps and bounds to go before they are on Kansas' and North Carolina's level in the Midwest Region. The impressive run continued on Sunday with a win over Georgetown, but the college hoops powers await in the coming days.