He might be. After NC State (12-5) won its second straight game over a team with just one loss on the season, the Wolfpack’s postseason outlook just became a little bit rosier.
NC State beat Arizona in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas earlier this season, has a win over Penn State and just beat Duke and Clemson back-to-back. Granted the Penn St, Duke and Clemson wins were all at home, but those victories are a hell of a lot better than what a lot of other similar teams have.
There was no doubt in many people’s minds that, eventually, Keatts could do a good job at NC State, but it wouldn’t happened as fast as it did for him previously.
He turned UNC-Wilmington completely around in one year. In 2013-14, the year before he took the Wilmington job, the Seahawks were 9-23 and 3-13 in league play. In his first year, they were 18-14 and 12-6 in league play – good enough to tie for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) regular season title.
While the Seahawks failed to make the NCAA tournament that season, they would make the next two (25-8 in 2015-16 and 29-6 in 2016-17); giving Duke and Virginia huge tests in first-round matchups.
He took the NC State job just days after the Seahawks loss in the NCAA tournament last season to the delight to most Wolfpack fans. The message was to be patient though. The ACC is not the CAA and winning big in that league would prove to be much more difficult.
Here the Wolfpack are though. Keatts has them squarely in the discussion for an at-large berth now. Something that seemed unthinkable in what many consider to be the best conference in college basketball.
The Wolfpack travel to Virginia on Sunday in a game that almost certainly will be a loss. However, the three after that are at home to Wake Forest and Miami and then on the road at Pitt. It is within the realm of possibility that the Wolfpack finishes this four-game stretch 3-1.
If that happens, maybe NC State fans don’t have to be patient with Keatts at all.