NC State is starting to deliver shades of 1983 as a magical run for Kevin Keatts’ squad continues!

Sunday afternoon, the 11-seeded Wolfpack squared off against Duke, a team NC State beat a few weeks ago as the magical stretch began in the ACC Tournament. In the Elite 8 rematch, it was once again the Wolfpack dialing up a big second-half push to get past Duke and into the Final Four.

Prior to the ACC Tournament, this kind of stretch seemed unthinkable for NC State, but the program has rattled off 9 straight wins. Now, the Wolfpack are just 2 wins from a national title for the first time since 1983.

Here are the key takeaways from NC State’s 76-64 win over Duke:

The DJ Burns Jr. show

DJ Burns averaged 12.6 points per game this season, but the dynamic big man has captivated the country in March. Listed at 6-foot-9 and 260 pounds, Burns has been a handful for many teams.

Since the start of the ACC Tournament, Burns has reached double figures in every game but the Sweet 16. He finished the win over Marquette with just 4 points and 7 rebounds, but NC State was able to survive.

Facing Duke, the Wolfpack needed Burns, and he delivered. Even while playing with 3 fouls for a key stretch in the second half, Burns dialed up a number of big-time plays to keep Duke at bay.

One of his highlights included a beautiful spin move and perfect touch shot to put NC State up 58-44 with just over 4 minutes left in the game:

Sunday’s performance is now Burns’ 6th game with 15+ points and his 3rd with 20+ since the start of the ACC Tournament as a leader for the team. He finished the win over Duke with 29 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists while shooting 13-of-19 from the field.

Elite defense shows up

In true Duke fashion, this year’s Blue Devils team maintained an efficient offense while averaging right at 80 points per game and shooting 37.7% from 3-point range. Duke also shot just a tick under 50% from the floor (48%) for the season, making NC State’s performance all the more impressive.

When the final whistle blew, Duke finished the game with its worst shooting performance of the season at 32.2%. The Blue Devils had not finished below 35% shooting all season long with their previous worst coming at 35.6% in a win over Notre Dame. It was also one of Duke’s worst efforts from 3-point range with NC State holding the Blue Devils to 5-for-20 (25%) Sunday evening.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke’s leading scorer and best shooter at 51%, was among the most affected while finishing 3-for-12 from the field and fouling out of the game with 11 points. Tyrese Proctor was also held scoreless with an 0-for-9 shooting effort after averaging over 10 points per game.

The shooting numbers were not the only impact of NC State’s defense. The Wolfpack also won the turnover battle, forcing the Blue Devils into 9 turnovers and outscoring Duke 13-2 in points off turnovers.

The year of the ‘Pack?

Even before the men’s team beat Duke, NC State’s women’s team advanced to the Final Four with a wire-to-wire win over 1-seed Texas. Though less of a Cinderella story as a 3-seed, the Wolfpack women’s team was an underdog against the Longhorns.

5 NC State players reached double figures against Texas, including Aziaha James with 27 points and 7-for-9 shooting from 3-point range in the 76-66 victory. On the other end of the floor, NC State’s defense forced Texas into 14 turnovers and held the Longhorns to 39.7% shooting from the field.

The Final Four appearance is the first for NC State’s women’s team since 1998, and now the men’s team will join them in the Final Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 1983!

Are things lining up to be a magical storybook season for both NC State programs? The picture looks that way right now, but next up for NC State’s men’s team is a showdown vs. 1-seed Purdue and Zach Edey, fresh off an electric performance against Tennessee.

As an 11-seed, NC State is bound to be an underdog once again, but that is a situation the Wolfpack has become accustomed to in the postseason.