While last night was a missed opportunity for NC State to solidify their case for an at-large tourney bid, it didn’t really do anything to hurt. It did ensure though that for the second straight year the Pack will have to sweat it out the last two weeks before Selection Sunday. Currently listed as Joe Lunardi’s first team out, they have to at the very least beat Wake Forest on Friday and win their first game in Greensboro to have a chance, although winning two there would be preferred. But being on the bubble without any guaranteed needle moving games remaining will likely require a bit of good fortune elsewhere on the bubble. Here is your official unofficial NC State bubble tracker for this evening:
Mississippi St (at South Carolina)
Both of these teams are actually on the bubble, but Lunardi has the Bulldogs listed in his First Four Out along with State while South Carolina is a little further down. Miss St has a pretty similar resume to last year’s NC State team as far as having a really good record in the middle quads but not much to show for at the top. This is a Q1 opportunity for them on the road tonight though, so a South Carolina win would be more beneficial.
Rutgers (vs Maryland)
Just a little over a month ago Rutgers seemed like a lock to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1991 before they stumbled to a 2-6 record in February to put themselves in hot water. Their NET, KenPom and BPI are all still Top 40 but they are now listed as one of Lunardi’s Last Four In. Much like State’s game last night, a loss wouldn’t necessarily hurt but a win would give a big push.
Syracuse (at Boston College)
This one doesn’t really have bubble implications as Syracuse isn’t an at-large threat at this point, but they are currently a half-game ahead of the Pack in the ACC standings. They finish with two road games against teams in the bottom third of the conference, but I’d say you’d be more likely to see a loss tonight than Saturday at Miami.
Cincinnati (at South Florida)
Currently listed as the last team in the field, Cincinnati is probably two recent OT losses against UCONN and UCF from being safely in. A perfect 6-0 record in Q2, strong SOS and minimal Q4 games are driving their tourney hopes. They close out at South Florida (low Q2) and home against Temple (Q3). If they hold serve they’re in, but losing either would definitely hurt.
Richmond (vs Davidson)
Richmond is right there with NC State in the First Four Out group, so any loss helps. Like most mid-majors they’ve padded their record with 18 of 22 wins coming in the bottom two quads. But the committee did give an at-large bid last year to Belmont even though they racked up 20 such wins. Richmond could be that team. It’s been a disappointing year for Davidson but they’re still more than capable of stealing one here.
Purdue (at Iowa)
At 15-14 the Boilermakers are ranked 35 in the NET and still very much in play for an at-large bid. I know it’s ridiculous but it’s the truth. This is a prime case of the NET being stupid. Northwestern and Nebraska stink, but every other Big Ten is ranked inside the Top 55 which makes pretty much every game a Q1 or Q2 opportunity. Purdue is 8-13 in said games. While the metrics say losing at Iowa isn’t bad, hopefully a team at freaking .500 won’t be under serious consideration going forward.
Texas (at Oklahoma)
Texas seemed left for dead just a few weeks ago after losing four straight capped off by a 29 point drubbing against a bad Iowa State team. Shaka was half way out the door. But since then, even with two starters out for the year, they have rattled off four straight wins including back to back Q1 games to come out of nowhere and are now listed directly behind NC State. Another Q1 win tonight would be less than ideal for the Pack. Personally, I think their team sheet is less than stellar, but it helps to be hot at the end of the year.