In this blog post, J.P. Giglio offers up some good analysis of NC State's bubble situation, with a comparison to the other ACC teams that finished 9-7 in league play in the post-expansion era. Here's the comparison Giglio put together:
(T50 = wins over RPI top-50 teams.)
***2011 was the first year of the 68-team tournament.***
The records reflect each team's win-loss record on Selection Sunday, so they include ACC Tournament results. Not surprisingly, all of the 9-7 teams that finished in the RPI top 40 received bids. If a power conference team finishes in the top 40, that team is usually a lock. It's tough to differentiate the rest, though. The other six teams finished between 52-63 in the RPI, and every team except the 2011 Clemson team had at least one win against the RPI top 50.
Head-to-head matchups make a difference (see: 2011 Clemson, which went undefeated against VT and BC), but there's also perception based on where a team is seeded in its conference tournament and how it performs in said tournament. So I had a look at how each of these teams finished in the ACC Tournament. The teams in all bold and italics were the teams that finished in the RPI top 40. The others are more comparable to NC State's current situation. In order, based on the above table:
[IN] 2011 Clemson: No. 4 seed in ACCT, 1-1 in ACCT (23-pt. W vs. BC; 5-pt. OT L vs. UNC)
[IN] 2010 Wake: No. 5 seed in ACCT, 0-1 in ACCT (21-pt. L vs. Miami)
[IN] 2010 Clemson: No. 6 seed in ACCT, 0-1 in ACCT (2-pt. L vs. NCSU)
[IN] 2009 Clemson: No. 5 seed in ACCT, 0-1 in ACCT (5-pt. L vs. GT)
[IN] 2009 BC: No. 6 seed in ACCT, 1-1 in ACCT (13-pt. W vs. UVA; 1-pt. L vs. Duke)
[OUT] 2011 VT: No. 6 seed in ACCT, 2-1 in ACCT (16-pt. W vs. GT; 1-pt. W vs. FSU; 14-pt. L vs. Duke)
[OUT] 2011 BC: No. 5 seed in ACCT, 1-1 in ACCT (14-pt. W vs. WF; 23-pt. L vs. Clemson)
[OUT] 2008 VT: No. 4 seed in ACCT, 1-1 in ACCT (14-pt. W vs. Miami; 2-pt. L vs. UNC)
[OUT] 2006 FSU: No. 5 seed in ACCT, 0-1 in ACCT (12-pt. L vs. WF)
I was a bit surprised to find that three of the four teams left out won at least one game in the tournament, and there was even a case where one team went 2-1 during the weekend and still got left out of the NCAAs. (Poor Greenberg.) I thought I might find a pattern of first round losses among the teams left out, but that isn't the case at all. So there aren't any obvious patterns or takeaways from this particular slice of recent history, other than the fact that it helps a lot to finish in the RPI top 40. But we already knew that.