(L) Scott Wood; (R) C.J. Leslie
The 2011-12 North Carolina State men's basketball season could have been titled, "Revival in Raleigh."
Mark Gottfried's first year saw the Wolfpack go 24-13, finish tied for fourth in the ACC and advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament.
Prior to Gottfried's arrival, NC State struggled through five years of sub-par performance under Sidney Lowe's leadership. In that horrendous half of a decade, the Wolfpack never finished higher than 10th place in conference play, never made it to the NCAA tournament and went a mediocre 86-78.
Going into the 2012-13 season, the Wolfpack have been selected (by the Sporting News' Mike DeCourcy) as the No. 7 team in the nation.
That's uncharacteristically ahead of Duke (No. 8) and North Carolina (No. 11).
If the Wolfpack are going to fulfill this lofty prediction, one of the main areas that Gottfried's gang needs to improve is taking care of things at home.
Last year, NC State was an uneven 13-6 at the PNC Center (formerly the RBC Center). That was the eighth best home record among ACC schools, and they lost to Indiana (86-75) and Syracuse (88-72) in pre-conference games.
In league play, they lost home matchups with Georgia Tech (82-71), Virginia (61-60), Florida State (76-62) and North Carolina (86-74).
It doesn't take an expert statistician to see that the average margin of defeat in these six games was almost 11 points per game.
It's one thing to get beat on your home floor. It's even worse when it's by double-digits.
There was nothing particularly unique about what caused these losses: Sloppy play, cold-shooting, low-energy on the boards and on defense.
As the Wolfpack get things cranked up next week, Gottfried has almost everyone back from last year's squad, plus he's added three talented 4-star recruits from the Class of 2012.
The only pre-conference home game that should pose any kind of problem is the December 18th contest against last year's NIT champs, Stanford.
NC State will then host Duke (January 12th) and North Carolina (January 26th) early. Getting wins in both of these games would go a long way towards the Wolfpack establishing themselves as the team-to-beat in the conference and build momentum for the ACC tournament and March Madness.
The upcoming season could be special for the Wolfpack. It all begins with protecting home court at the PNC!