In the over two decades that I’ve been watching NC State basketball, one thing I have always hoped for is to get to the point as a program where the “bubble” talk goes away and the team can comfortably expect to be in the NCAA field. Another year, and this Wolfpack team has taken it a step further by playing themselves to the wrong side of the bubble. The team has their work cut out for them if they’d like to make a late season push and make a case for their inclusion in this year’s tournament.
Finding a way back to the bubble is not out of the question, however. There is a path to make it happen, but it will require the Pack play their most consistently best basketball of the season.
As a reminder, here are the quadrant breakdowns. Still unclear just how much stock the committee is placing in these. Based on last year’s selections, it seemed like they just fell back to the standard way of discriminating between teams.
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30, Neutral 1-50, Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353
Here is NC State’s remaining schedule (NET ranking, Quadrant level of matchup) and the likely path needed to bolster the at-large resume:
@ Syracuse (65, Q1) - W - linchpin game, the most attainable Q1 win remaining
@ Boston College (141, Q3) - W - can’t afford any losses under Q2, plus road wins = good
vs #7 Duke (6, Q1) - W - absolutely need one of these two as State gets two top 10 matchups at home back to back. Duke seems like best possibility to get the one signature win of the season
vs #8 FSU (15, Q1) - L - flip a coin with this or Duke, but FSU is the fully realized version of a Kevin Keatts wet dream roster
@ UNC (88, Q2) - W - of all these remaining games, just get this one pretty please
vs Pitt (78, Q3) - W - borderline Q2 matchup, have to take care of business
@ Duke (6, Q1) - L - next...
vs Wake Forest (103, Q3) - W - can not end the season on back to back losses
NC State currently is 15-8 (6-6). If the above happens and they go 6-2 in the final eight games, they would finish 21-10 (12-8). This year’s ACC field is much weaker than last year, so NC State would likely be jockeying with UVA for the conference’s fourth NCAA bid.
Speaking of the Cavs, they have a similar schedule down the stretch as NC State, two top 10 teams and a mix of Q2/Q3 matchups. It is not out of the question for State to finish tied with UVA for fourth place in the conference standing, with the Pack getting the tiebreaker earning them the double bye. If they get one win in the ACC Tournament, then their passport likely gets stamped to the big dance. I would be shocked if the ACC gets five NCAA bids, so finishing in top four in the conference has to be the goal.
This is attainable IN THEORY, but we’ve all (or maybe not all) been watching this team struggle with playing consistently within a single game, let alone an eight game stretch. As you can seen from the below predictions, we don’t have a ton of confidence going into this key matchup against Syracuse, which may derail the train right away.
Hold on to your butts.
Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Prediction: 66-71 (L)
Comment: “A crucial Q1 matchup, Pack coughs up a lead late when they start shooting ice like Subzero.”
Prediction: 73-70 (W)
Comment: “From Gott to Keatts we’ve tended to play well against the Cuse...w/ Bryce midrange back (?) and Bev quietly shooting better too, we defend just well enough to win”
Prediction: 64-68 (W)
Comment: “Syracuse’s defense has been pretty garbage this year, but I’m not ready to call for another good road performance yet. Don’t be surprised if I’m way wrong.”
Prediction: 74-75 (L)
Comment: “The Connells come back to bite Raleigh in the ass”
KenPom Projection: 72-77 (L)
BTP Staff Cumulative Prediction: 70-72 (L)
Date: Sunday, February 16, 2020
Opponent: Boston College
Prediction: 81-72 (W)
Comment: “The ice cream flows in a slightly comfortable Q3 road win”
Prediction: 68-64 (W)
Comment: “This game frightens me man! As BC always does, the unfocused version of State we’ve seen this year can lose this game AND it’s a trap”
Prediction: 74-63 (W)
Comment: “NC State comes out strong and does what needs doin’ as BC’s cruddy offense struggles.”
Prediction: 79-68 (W)
Comment: “Pack pulls away in the middle half of the game, knocks down FTs late to never have it in doubt”
KenPom Projection: 71-68 (W)
BTP Staff Cumulative Prediction: 75-67 (W)
Staff Season Predicted Record (started week of Jan 6th):
TheRealEssad: 4 - 5
JEOHankins2: 7 - 2
Steven: 5 - 2
PirateWolf: 4 - 1
no23sports: 5 - 1
KenPom: 6 - 3
Actual: 5 - 4
So what do y’all think? Give us your predictions below!