Busting Brackets

NC State Basketball: Kevin Keatts, Then and Now

A trip down memory lane for the solidified NC State head coach.
Coach Keatts cutting down the nets after taking down No. 4-seeded Duke in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament.
Coach Keatts cutting down the nets after taking down No. 4-seeded Duke in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. / Lance King/GettyImages

Kevin Keatts, a Lynchburg, Virginia, native, is now 51 years old. After a long road of being a head coach, seasons filled with highs and lows. This 2023–2024 campaign will be one that he will never forget for the rest of his life.

NC State completed the regular season towards the lower half of the ACC, standing tenth within the conference behind Florida State and in front of Boston College.

Southwestern Michigan College was Keatts' first gig on an actual staff, serving as an assistant. After that stint, he moved to the Hargrave Military Academy as an assistant as well. He was then named head coach in 1999.

Fast forward to the late 2000s, and the Virginia native stood beside Rick Pitino on the sidelines at Louisville, being one of his own from 2011–2014. In January 2014, Keatts became the head coach at UNC Wilmington before ultimately entering (arguably) his prime within the coaching spectrum at NC State.

It's now April 2024, and so much has been accomplished by the long-time coach. Incredible features, such as leading his team to five straight victories at the Capital One Arena during the ACC Tournament, an achievement that has never been done before until now. Those wins saw the Wolfpack take No. 2-seeded Duke in the quarterfinals and No. 1-seeded North Carolina out in the ACC Championship, granting them a spot in the big dance.

There were a lot of doubts and concerns in terms of whether or not the Wolfpack's hot streak would die down, but that has not been the case whatsoever.

Four wins that included Texas Tech, Oakland, Marquette, and Duke have resulted in their first appearance in the Final Four for the first time since 1983. Back when the great Jimmy Valvano stirred up one of the greatest stories in college basketball history, that left fans talking for ages.

Coach Keatts has the opportunity to etch his name in the books with a chance to advance to the national championship. However, there's one big obstacle that stands in the way of that goal.

Zach Edey and the Purdue Boilermakers.

This will be a battle that features possibly one of, if not, the best individual matchups in the entire tournament—DJ Burns versus Zach Edey. A dogfight that will have everyone on the edge of their seats (if fans elect to sit down while watching, of course) as State fans witness their star big man face the 7-foot-4 phenom.

In addition to the bonuses and contract extensions, Coach Keatts has completely saved his job, as it could have been stripped away from him if Michael O'Connell had not sunk in that three-pointer against Virginia in the semifinals to send the contest into overtime.

It all goes down on Saturday, April 6th, in Glendale, Arizona, at the State Farm Stadium at 6:09 p.m. on TBS.

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NC State-Purdue, Kevin Keatts-Matt Painter, an elite matchup with a berth to the final Monday of the season.