2024 ACC MBB Tournament – NC State captures title with 84-76 win over UNC

Wolfpack becomes first team to play 5 games in the ACC Tournament; second in nation to win 5 in 5 days

Andy Hancock/ACC

Peter Koutroumpis (@pksport)


RALEIGH, N.C. – For those watching the championship final of the 2024 ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament on TV on Saturday night, the thought of ‘why not them’ was the positive mindset to carry into the matchup between the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels and the upstart, 10th-seeded NC State Wolfpack.

Watching the highlights of the Wolfpack’s run from Tuesday through Friday before the game, a four-game march through the rest of the conference field at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C ., precluded the fifth and final commitment fans made in front of their screens back home, ready to witness one of the ACC’s most historic finishes play out in front of them.

The Wolfpack completed the journey, wining five games in five days, coming together in an 84-76 triumph over its Triangle-area rivals.

“When we got on the plane to come to D.C., we talked about winning one game at a time, and there would be a big picture, would be a prize at the end of it,” NC State coach Kevin Keatts said afterwards.

“You could tell our guys were getting a lot stronger every game that we played. It’s weird because we’re the team that played, and we were the one who played every game, but it seemed like every second half we got a little bit stronger than the other team…For all of the players that came before us that were so close to winning a championship, it’s not just our championship, it’s everybody’s championship.”

Why not us?

Andy Hancock/ACC

With the now oft-repeated slogan ‘Why not us?’  chanted throughout the postgame celebrations in the arena all the way back to the Bell Tower, flowing in red with throngs of students and supporters gathering at its base, this team has everyone energized and possesses the momentum to continue to climb higher.

Regardless of the exhaustion felt as being the first team to ever play five games in the ACC Tournament, the players answered their own question, and proclaimed it so after it all – ‘why not us?’.

It’s now a mantra that this team carries into the upcoming NCAA Tournament, an automatic bid earned that made this Wolfpack squad the first in 37 years to win the conference title.

It took that long since the 1987 team brought the conference tournament trophy back home, one coached by the late Jim Valvano, and one that also beat the regular-season champion Tar Heels in Maryland to do so back then.

Earning their way into the dance

Andy Hancock/ACC

While NC State owns two national championship titles, claimed in 1974 and 1983, and celebrate them and their team members regularly, this ACC title win has catapulted this year’s Wolfpack team into one that will be added to NC State championship history conversations for years to come.

Led by DJ Horne’s 29 points, and supported by Tournament MVP DJ Burns Jr.’s 20 points, this season’s Wolfpack questioned the doubters, and made the statement: “Why not us?”

As a result, they’ll be watching Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Selection show, waiting to find out where their postseason journey will take them next.

“Yeah, I think you’ve just got to have discipline,” Horne said.

“We came into this tournament knowing that our season was on the line, so there was no room for mistakes. I think everybody really took heed to that and took it personally.”

“When you think about NC State, the couple things that really stand out to you is the ’74 championship and the ’83 championships, and if we could make any of those guys proud, and hopefully they are, by what we did here in the ACC, that’s a great thing,” Keatts added.

“We never listen to anybody outside of our locker room because our locker room is the most important thing, and these guys will have memories for the rest of their life that they can always know that they were ACC champions and won the tournament.”

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