NC State took a more confident approach to its non-conference scheduling in Kevin Keatts’ second season, which is worth lauding. The Wolfpack actively sought multiple games against power-five opponents, including Auburn, which will be really good this year.
That’s a welcome change from last season, when State worked around its obligations (Battle 4 Atlantis, B1G/ACC Challenge) by inserting a bunch of tomato cans. It was an understandable approach given that State had a brand new coach, mind you, but if a few a few things had gone differently, that schedule would have zapped NC State’s NCAA tournament at-large hopes. Fortunately State took care of business in league play.
The top-end scheduling is an improvement, but there are still five teams on this schedule that finished worse than 300 in the Pomeroy Ratings. Remember, RPI is dead—the tournament selection committee has new metric, NET, that is going to be much more of a mirror on KenPom. That’s all they’re lookin’ at now.
So those bottom-end teams are a problem. NC State survived last season with wins over Arizona and Penn State—the new metric would be far less impressed by the Arizona win—and it will have to deliver at least a couple of wins from the Auburn/Penn St./Vandy/Wisconsin set of games to do the same this year.
They attempted to create a smaller margin for error with the schedule this time around, but things change, and with the RPI being shown the door, it’s a whole new ballgame.