Beating Duke or North Carolina has been difficult enough for N.C. State, winning the next ACC game after a win over either blue behemoth has been nearly impossible.
The “Duke/Carolina hangover” has been real for N.C. State (14-7, 3-5 ACC) which will try to change that pattern at No. 13 Louisville (17-4, 5-3) on Sunday (1 p.m., WRAL).
Since the start of the 1990-91 season, N.C. State has gone 2-19 in its next ACC game after a regular-season win over either Duke or UNC. The Wolfpack upset No. 17 Duke on Monday, 84-82 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
The last time N.C. State beat either Triangle blue blood — a 58-46 win in Chapel Hill in 2015 — Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried had the team bus stop by the Belltower on Hillsborough Street on campus and the players celebrated with the students and fans.
After Monday’s win at Cameron, Gottfried thought about stopping at the Belltower again but remembered what happened last time after the team did that — a 16-point road loss at Boston College.
“I though it was important for our guys to enjoy that for a minute but then I think quickly you have to get your team and your mindset onto the next game,” Gottfried said.
Gottfried has tried to approach the Duke/Carolina hangover both ways. Earlier in his career, he ignored it. After the Carolina win in 2015, he talked openly about it — before and after the Boston College loss.
We’ve got to be able to win two in a row,” Gottfried said. “We can’t just win one, you’ve got to go find a way to get another one.
Monday’s win at Duke was Gottfried’s fourth against either Duke or Carolina and his teams have lost the next game each time. Three of those follow-up games were on the road (Maryland, Virginia and BC). And one, after a 2015 home win over Duke, was actually against UNC, which ended up being a two-point loss.
Actually, the last time N.C. State followed up a win over Duke with another win was against UNC during the 2002-03 season. The only other follow-up ACC win for N.C. State was at home against Clemson during the 1991-92 season. (The 2001-02 team beat Temple in the next game after a win over UNC but lost its next ACC game to Wake Forest).
The good news for N.C. State is the five-day stretch between games is the longest layoff one of Gottfried’s teams has had to put that type of emotional win behind them. It’s also good that Maryland left for the Big Ten in 2013. The Terrapins are responsible for seven of the 19 “game after” losses.
Gottfried said it was important for the Wolfpack to live in the present and not worry too much about the past. This N.C. State team dug a hole with a 2-5 ACC start, Gottfried said, and now it needs to find a way to climb out of it.
Two years ago, the Wolfpack went to Louisville with a 5-7 league record and pulled off a surprise win over the Cardinals. Gottfried is hoping that Monday’s win at Duke could have the same type of “catapult effect” on this team.
“We’ve got to be able to win two in a row,” Gottfried said. “We can’t just win one, you’ve got to go find a way to get another one.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio