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Road Trip: NC State

Posted: Tuesday May 15, 2007 8:50AM; Updated: Tuesday May 22, 2007 11:41AM
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By Nick Jeffreys

Sitting only a few miles east of North Carolina and Duke, NC State is typically regarded as the red-headed stepchild. The two rival schools typically use the Wolfpack as a punching bag or as the butt of a joke. But it didn't used to be that way.

At Carter-Finley Stadium, you never know when a player may enjoy a touchdown celebration with fans in the front row.
At Carter-Finley Stadium, you never know when a player may enjoy a touchdown celebration with fans in the front row.
Doug Benc/Getty Images
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• Photo Gallery: NC State fans in action

In 1974, State won its first basketball national championship and nine seasons later, the Pack won another under Jim Valvano. Sidney Lowe, the Pack's current head coach, was the starting point guard of that team. While it's more than 20 years since NC State beat Houston in that historic game, the image of Valvano running across the court is still in fans' minds.

Best place to see a game:

It doesn't get much better than Carter-Finley Stadium, the school's football facility. With suites and a press box that is four levels and goes from one end zone to the next, it's tough to imagine something much nicer. The Murphy Center -- another state-of-the-art building -- includes the workout area for the team and has all of the coaches' offices.

Best place for a professional event:

Directly beside the school's football facility, Carter-Finley Stadium, is the RBC Center -- the home of the men's basketball team and the Carolina Hurricanes. During the winter, students can catch a men's basketball game in the afternoon and then stick around for a hockey game later that night. Yes, they have actually set a record for the fastest time from switching a basketball court to an ice rink. Tickets for hockey games can go for almost $10 and are a great getaway for many students.

Best class:

Every college has a class that students typically rush to sign up for and NC State is no different. Students can choose from PEC 213 -- Human Sexuality to IDS 220 -- Coastal and Ocean. But the best? ENT 203 -- Bees and Beekeeping. Classes get to enter a swarm of bees, taste every honey known to man and even make honey wine during the semester.

Best place to take a hike:

Well, not a real hike. In what is probably one of NC State's best traditions, on the Friday night before exam week, students pack Hillsborough Street and attempt to walk down the entire street -- stopping at every location where there is an alcoholic beverage. By the end of the night, you've seen nearly every one of your friends and you're good to go for exams.

Best place to find an angry fan:

Whether it's because a player didn't put his pants on straight or he just couldn't beat a rival school, NC State fans will find a way to get angry. After five going to NCAA tournaments, most coaches would be loved. But Herb Sendek? Not so much. After 10 seasons, the even-tempered coach was run out of town. Sitting in the stands isn't too pleasant either -- be sure not to take a child under the age of 17, because it gets harsh. Through yelling out obscenities or peeing in the stands during a football game (yes, that happened), State fans will express their dissatisfaction with absolutely in any and every way.

Best place to grab some wings and a beer:

Jax Sports Grill. Even though its rather small and tucked away a few minutes off campus, it's a great place to grab an extremely cheap pitcher with cheap, tasty wings.

Best place for a late-night burger:

Cook Out. After a night of partying and hanging out with friends, Cook Out is the place to go for students. Around 2 a.m., the line extends out into the parking lot while the drive-thru lines pile into the street.

Best pizza joint:

While it's not on campus or across the street from campus, Teddy's New Yorker Pizza is only minutes away and is a great spot to grab a pizza, a baked ziti or anything else from their huge menu.

Best way to anger students:

A lesson for all professors at NC State would be not to mistakenly call your pupils students of North Carolina. It happens all the time and the result is not too pleasant. Aside from professors, newspaper articles somehow often mistake the two.

Best place to study:

D.H. Hill Library. As one of the largest, if not the largest building on campus, students could play games of hide-and-seek that would last for years. On each of the nine floors, the library contains thousands of books and tons of places where students can escape in their studies. The top few floors give students a great look down on the University and a look into downtown Raleigh. Come early, because late in the semester it's tough to find a spot as the school contains more than 30,000 students. Recently, the University added a section that is state-of-the-art. It's almost more of a hangout spot -- a Nintendo Wii, an Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 2 are scattered throughout the lobby. While it can be a great place to get away and study, the ladies can be a distraction for many.

Best motivational coach:

Look no further than women's basketball coach Kay Yow. After leaving the team in the middle of the season due to her third battle with cancer (now metastasized -- one of the worst things to hear for a cancer patient), she came back to finish the season. Then, near the end of the season, her father passed away. If all that wasn't enough, she turned around a team that slumped all throughout the season. The Pack reeled off wins against No. 1 Duke and No. 2 North Carolina and made a run in the NCAA tournament.

Best team no one knows about:

The softball team. After the program held its inaugural season four years ago, the team already has one ACC title under its belt and earned itself a No. 15 overall seed for this year's NCAA tournament.

Worst team no one knows about:

The volleyball team. If winning one ACC match a year was an accomplishment for this team, it would still fail every season. This year the Pack went 0-22 in the conference and 2-29 overall. In four of the past five seasons, the team hasn't earned an ACC win.

Most famous alumni:

While David Thompson would be an easy choice for many, right now it would have to be Phillip Rivers. When the quarterback was in Raleigh, he broke every school (and many ACC) passing record. Three years later, State's football coach has been fired and Rivers is finally showing what he can do for the San Diego Chargers.

Nick Jeffreys is a senior at NC State.

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