Busting Brackets

NC State Basketball: 3 keys to victory over Marquette in the Sweet 16

NC State is in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2015. What must the Wolfpack do to topple 2-seed Marquette?

Can DJ Burns help keep the Wolfpack's improbable run alive?
Can DJ Burns help keep the Wolfpack's improbable run alive? / Joe Sargent/GettyImages
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The second round of the NCAA Tournament featured thrilling games, three of which needed at least one overtime to decide them. When the dust cleared, though, 14 of the 16 higher seeds and 15 of the 16 betting favorites advanced, leaving college basketball fans with a loaded Sweet 16 that is conspicuously free of a traditional Cinderella.

The bracket is mostly filled with chalk, but there is one team that, upon first glance, doesn't belong at this party. NC State is an 11-seed, but call the Wolfpack a Cinderella at your own peril. Cinderella didn't win five straight beauty pageants in the week leading up to the ball where she left her glass slipper. Kevin Keatts' team is as hot as any team still dancing, and after victories over Texas Tech and Oakland, the Pack will now get the chance to pen the next chapter in their fairy tale when they meet Marquette on Friday.

You better believe that NC State has Shaka Smart's attention. State has athletes, matchup problems, and momentum on its side, not to mention the whole "team of destiny" thing. For a program that owns a banner for one of the most unlikely NCAA Tournament titles ever, this is no small feather in its cap.

State narrowly escaped Oakland in overtime in the round of 32, but the Golden Eagles pose an entirely different set of challenges than the Golden Grizzlies. What does the Pack have to do to reach the Elite Eight?