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The News & Observer, Takaaki Iwabu, Associated Press
North Carolina State basketball fans Joe Zaborowski, left, Brian Schilling, Joe Kasperski, second from right, and Matt Kasperski, right, celebrate the Wolfpack's win over Georgetown, Sunday, March 18, 2012, in Raleigh, N.C. State won 66-63 in the third-round game of their NCAA men's college basketball tournament played in Columbus, Ohio.

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State started the year as the afterthought behind Duke and North Carolina. Not anymore.

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The Blue Devils are at home. The Tar Heels are limping into the NCAA tournament's round of 16 and facing uncertainty after a critical injury.

But N.C. State is healthy and surging into the tournament's second weekend — and looking like the best team at this moment on Tobacco Road.

Junior Scott Wood said "it really is who gets hot near the end of the year" and the Wolfpack became one of those teams.

The 11th-seeded Wolfpack (24-12) faces No. 2 seed Kansas on Friday in the Midwest Regional in St. Louis. It's the program's first trip to the round of 16 in seven years and its first NCAA appearance in six.