Entertainment

Scotty McCreery still bleeds Wolfpack red – even when he can’t be there

As a diehard N.C. State fan, “American Idol” champion Scotty McCreery will be closely following the basketball team’s fortunes at the ACC and (he hopes) NCAA tournament. But this year, at least, he won’t be able to make it to either tournament.

“Not this year,” the Garner native said Monday in an interview. “I’ll probably get slapped on the wrist for this, but I told my team, ‘Guys, this is a rebuilding year for us and we’re probably not gonna make (the NCAA tournament). So book me up, let’s work.’ And here we are, and they’re killing it.”

With a new album coming out next month, his single “Five More Minutes” hitting No. 1, and a wedding to plan, McCreery could perhaps be forgiven for prioritizing elsewhere this year. And in his mind, it’s no question that N.C. State should be playing in the field of 68 when March Madness begins.

“I’ll put this out there, I think they should be NCAA tournament-bound,” he said. “Five wins over top 25 teams!”

McCreery is busy promoting his newest album, “Seasons Change,” which will be released March 16. McCreery’s promotional run-up includes a Saturday show at Greensboro’s Cone Denim Entertainment Center, as well as an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show the week of the album’s release.

Monday, though, he was still celebrating “Five More Minutes” hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart. The song was originally released last year and was given a renewed push by McCreery’s label to lead “Seasons Change.”

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As far as team loyalties go, McCreery comes from a divided family, with relatives from both the N.C. State Wolfpack and North Carolina Tar Heels. You’d think that will be the case for his marital home, too, since his fiancé Gabi Dugal went to UNC-Chapel Hill.

But you’d be wrong. Dugal grew up a Wolfpack fan and, alma mater status aside, her sympathies still run red.

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“My proudest moment was her graduation day on UNC’s football field,” McCreery said. “I was actually wearing Carolina blue that day, being polite. But she surprised us all and wore red on the field for graduation. You look at pictures and it’s all blue except this one little red speck. She’s still a Pack fan. The only time she might root for Carolina is when they’re playing Duke.”

Does McCreery, who won “American Idol” in 2011, ever find a reason to pull for Carolina?

“Oh, no,” he said, looking offended. But he’s not a total ideologue about it.

“She’s got a degree on the wall that she worked hard for, and I support that,” McCreery said. “It’s a good school.”

He paused as a pained look passed across his face.

“That’s so tough for me to say.”

David Menconi: 919-829-4759, @NCDavidMenconi

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