Who: No. 9 seed N.C. State (21-11) vs. No. 8 seed Seton Hall (21-11)
When: 4:30 p.m. Thursday (TBS)
Where: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kan.
Series: N.C. State leads 3-2, though the teams haven’t met since 10 seasons ago in the regular season.
Outlook: Both teams have six victories against teams in the NCAA Tournament field, though both also were one-and-done in their respective conference tournaments.
N.C. State is back into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three years. Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard has his team in the tournament for the third straight year.
“We’re very focused on the fact to take the last two experiences and learn from them,” Willard said. “These guys know how good North Carolina State is. I think that experience has helped them understand that anyone you play in the tournament is going to be really good.”
N.C. State enters the tournament with losses in two of its last three games. Still, the Wolfpack has knocked off teams such as Arizona, Duke and North Carolina.
The only common opponent is Louisville. Seton Hall won a road game Dec. 3 against the Cardinals, while N.C. State closed the regular season March 3 with a home victory against the Cardinals.
This is the third time Seton Hall has been a No. 8 regional seed, winning the other two times in the first round. Last year, the Pirates were a No. 9 seed, falling to Arkansas in the opening round.
Quote: “To go from being preseason picked 12th in the ACC to an at-large selection for the tournament is a great accomplishment. It has been a very rewarding season, but we still have a golden opportunity to build on it.” — N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts.
Note: This marks Seton Hall’s first Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in the NCAA Tournament other than Duke.
What’s next? The winner meets either top-seeded Kansas or 16th-seeded Pennsylvania in Saturday’s second round.
— Bob Sutton / Times-News