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As the number of underdogs in this year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament continues to dwindle, the North Carolina State Wolfpack are doing their part to keep the magic alive.

The No. 11 Wolfpack knocked off the second-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles on Friday night. The 67-58 win lifted NC State to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1986. The Wolfpack had to put together a string of wins in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament just to qualify for the big dance. 

NC State has now won eight straight games since the start of the ACC tournament.

“It’s magical, but I’m going to say we knew this from day one,” said NC State’s DJ Horne, whose team lost seven of nine to finish the regular season. “We knew we were a good team. It was all a matter of just locking in and understanding our roles, and no better time to be doing that than now.”


NC State awaits the winner of the highly-anticipated matchup between top-seeded Houston or No. 4 seed Duke on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four.

Tyler Kolek reacts during a game

The last time the Wolfpack went that far 41 years ago, they had to win the ACC Tournament before the late Jim Valvano sprinted around the court trying to find someone to hug after a still-talked-about upset of high-flying Houston for the title.

The Golden Eagles couldn’t overcome an unsightly shooting performance in their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2013. They went 4 of 31 (12.9%) from 3-point range and shot 33.3% overall.

“We talked about being very stingy defensively,” NC State coach Keatts said. “Marquette’s a really good basketball team. They do a great job. I thought we were better defensively.”

North Carolina State players celebrate

Third-year coach Shaka Smart is 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament in Texas with Marquette — including North Carolina’s first-round blowout two years ago — after failing to win a tournament game in six seasons leading the Longhorns. Friday’s Sweet 16 game was played in Dallas.

“The worst part about losing today is that we don’t have practice tomorrow,” Smart said. “We don’t have another game to prepare for.”

The finish of the first half said it all as the Golden Eagles finished with a season low in points.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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