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Quadrant Tracker 9000 - post GT edition

Sliding scales are fun!

NCAA Basketball: Miami (FL) at N.C. State Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

The NET ranking continues to be a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a something something. Tracking its ups and downs during the season is largely useless since none of it really matters until the season is done. However, I do find it interesting to watch the sliding scale shift around as we learn more about the contenders and the pretenders.

Bottom line up front: If you’re like most NC State fans and your primary concern is seeing the Wolfpack compete for an ACC title rather than an NCAA tournament run, then all this NET nonsense is meaningless.

Speaking of which, things shook out nicely for the Wolfpack this weekend. When last we spoke, NC State was three games out of first place, needing some help to shimmy their way into the top four of the conference. There was a logjam in third place, but these things always shake themselves out.

One of the best scenarios to help NC State this past weekend was: NCSU win, UVA loss to Va Tech, Miami win against Clemson, and Duke over unc... and all these happened. Don’t look now but the Pack is one game out of first place in the ACC.

It’s not often things like that shake out in favor of NC State. It’s a weird feeling, I think it feels good, but still apprehensive that danger is around the corner. The main thing, as always, is just win baby win, and things magically have a way of working out for you. Still, it’s nice to have some help from the games around you.

This makes Tuesday's matchup in Charlottesville vs UVA a massive opportunity. It isn’t a deal breaker for getting a top four seed, as State still has Clemson and other winnable games remaining on the schedule, but the winner could have the chance at landing the top seed for the ACC Tournament.

Now, on to the NET stuff.

Quadrant Definitions

As a reminder, here are the NET definitions:

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

NC State Quad Breakdown

Let’s revisit where things were as of 1/21/2023 (after the unc game):

As things currently stand:

Good things to point out here:

  1. NC State still has not had consecutive losses all year.
  2. Since playing NC State, Duke slid out of Q1 and back in. I’d expect them to stay in the top 30. Why? Because Duke.
  3. Butler has really fallen off, dropping nearly 60 spots in the NET and that game is now a Q3 matchup. Thanks, y’all.
  4. Likewise, Vanderbilt has fallen out of the top 100, which makes that neutral site game now a Q3 game. These drops hurt the non-conference strength of schedule, which are likely a factor in NC State’s NET dropping.

Quad games as of 1/22/23:

Quad games to date:

Home and Away breakdown as of 1/22/23:

Home and Away breakdown to date:

Overall record as of 1/22/23:

Overall record to date:

Summary of the above tables:

  1. NC State still has followed up each of their Q1 and Q2 wins with another win, showing no hangover from quality wins.
  2. The combo of teams sliding out of Q2 along with gaining some wins has caused the record to go from 6-5 to 5-5. This keeps NC State in the top 4-5 in the ACC. Not the best, but not that bad either.
  3. Conversely, the Pack has stayed undefeated against Q3 and Q4 competition. Avoiding bad losses is a key indicator of a strong team. They might yet slip up down the stretch, but they’ve done well so far. Good teams take care of business against lower competition. NC State is a good team, with the chance to be very good, perhaps even quite good. In the last post, I said that games against Notre Dame, FSU and GT were must-wins. Although they weren’t quality opponents, you don’t want to give the committee any excuses to hold anything against you.
  4. The majority of losses are still in the Q1 category. This is fine, and just goes to show how valuable these games are.
  5. The Pack need Virginia Tech and Wake Forest to stay in the top 75. Those road wins are great Q1 badges for the ol’ resume.
  6. Speaking of the road, NC State is 3-3 on the road in conference play this year. This is a good number compared to prior seasons and puts them in the top third of the conference.

How does NC State stack up against the rest of the ACC?

ACC NET standings of 1/22/23:

ACC NET standings to date:

Conference notes:

  1. NC State’s three Q1 wins make them tied for third in the conference. It’s good but keeping pace.
  2. It would be nice to get those early losses to Pitt, Miami and Clemson back. NC State would likely be in first place now if they’d closed those out. However, you could say losing those games early forced the team to regroup and go on a tear once the calendar flipped to 2023.
  3. Louisville, congrats on moving on up from 334, all the way to 328/363. You got that big win over fellow basement dweller GT to get you on the board in conference play. The Pack was there just last year, so don’t worry, it doesn’t have to last for long. Just get yourself a DJ Burns out of the portal and it’s easy. What’s that? He’s one of a kind? Aw well, sorry, you’re out of luck then.
  4. Clemson continues to slide, going down from 7th to 8th in the NET for ACC teams. They’re now at 64th from 59th. Technically they’re still first place in the conference, but that standing is not long for this world. They have a suuuuper slim 0.5 game lead over Pitt and UVA. Last time I pointed out the discrepancy in their conference standing, AP ranking (19th at the time), and NET; and said that this shows that either the NET metric is flawed, or it predicts a fall for the Tigers. I think the dropoff was easy to predict. Their schedule has been pillowy soft. Clemson plays Virginia, Duke, unc, Pitt, and Miami only once. They did just beat Pitt, but lost to Miami. They have games against unc, Syracuse, NC State and UVA still remaining. Get ready for the “what happened to the Tigers??” headlines as they drop to 6th-ish in the conference and lose in the first or second round of the conference tournament. If the NET is a reliable indicator (it’s not, though) they’re squarely on the bubble now.
  5. (literally putting what I wrote last time for UVA because they’re boring yet so damn consistent) Virginia continues to be Virginia, just quietly great, yet so hard to watch. Yes, they’re one game back from first, but they’re the odds on favorite to finish first in the regular season, and the conference’s lone chance of a top NCAA seed.
  6. But Duke tho, why are they so high? They’re 2-6 in Q1, with their signature win coming against #33 Iowa in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

What’s left on the schedule?

Quad games remaining:

Here are specifically the Q1 and Q2 games remaining:

Points on these:

  1. Seven games remaining, and only one is a non-Q1/Q2 opportunity. This is the REAL meat of the schedule, with three of those six quality matchups being on the road. If you’re the type who’s waiting for the other shoe to drop any moment, hold on to your butts this month.
  2. If NC State can win of the two Q1 road games at UVA or Duke, it would put a nice bow on their resume. UVA would be the preference for ACCT purposes, but also Duke for the historical reasons.
  3. Conversely, if NC State comes up short in both of these road games, then the three game home stand of unc, Wake, and Clemson will be perfect chances to shore up the tournament resume late. Those would be borderline must-wins
  4. There are several resume building opportunities on the schedule, or resume breaking ones if you’re pessimistic. The continued absence of Jack Clark and Dusan Mahorsic is troubling, here’s hoping they can be back soon. The team needs them rounding back into shape come March. Also, at this point I’m not expecting a single Isaiah Miranda appearance this year, or ever. Likely much ado about nothing.
  5. Lastly, the takeaway from this points to just how big the upcoming game vs UVA is. NC State’s best two wins are against Duke (25) and VT (50). Duke is hanging on for dear life in the top 30, so if they backslide then the Pack really need a “signature” win to stamp their ticket. Enter, Hoos. Actually, the Pack will be entering since it’s in their building. Whatever.

Strength of Schedule

Here is the ACC listed by SoS based on NET ranking (source).

  1. NC State’s OOC SoS is very not good, but it’s not the end of the world. The Battle 4 Atlantis was a good tournament, State really needed to win that Kansas game to get some chances at one of the better teams down there. Also, thanks for nothing Butler.
  2. Ultimately, I don’t think NC State’s OOC SoS is a huge limiting factor if they finish in the top four of the conference standings. Yes, they should schedule tougher opponents outside of those early season tournaments. But also, hey, maybe don’t finish in last place so you don’t get invited to the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, huh??
  3. The mystery of Duke reveals itself, as their SoS is 51st. I guess this kinda explains their NET of 25, but not really. At a certain point, the NET becomes a circular reference. Duke = “good” because they’ve played other “good” teams and thow teams have played “good” teams, regardless of whether they’ve beaten them or not. And on and on, the snake eats its tail.
  4. A similar argument can be made for unc, who’s sitting at 1-7 Q1 and 44 NET, with the lone Q1 win being against Ohio State in said Challenge.


Above all else, I hope you’re all enjoying this team and this season. It’s been so fun to watch a true TEAM in action. Both the Keatts and Gottfried eras were defined by ball dominant guards with the rest playing support roles. Having multiple scoring options has resulted in NC State winning several games they would absolutely have lost in the past.

Three out of the last four games came down to the wire, and the Pack did not fold. In the games against Notre Dame, Wake Forest and GT, NC State got their opponent’s best shot. When you’re vying for a top spot in the conference, you’re going to get everyone else’s best swing at you. They’re punching UP to take you down, and this team finally has the grit to not get knocked down, stay in the ring and finish the fight.

Remember this: NC State will not go undefeated the rest of the way, that is unlikely. Do not panic if they lose. Going 5-2 in the last seven games would be a very good outcome. This would put them at 24-7 (14-6) and likely looking at a top 6-seed in the NCAA tournament. I surely hope so at least, because I don’t want this fun season to end with NC State being in the 8/9 game AGAIN. Also, for reference, Miami finished fourth in the conference last year at 14-6, and the conference is weaker overall this year, so 14 wins might contend for first.

I’ll be back next week-ish with another update on all this NET madness. If there’s a particular look you want from the NET stats, let me know in the comments!