“Alone in the dark with nothing but your thoughts, time can draw out like a blade.” Is that too dramatic for an NCAA tournament discussion? Probably. But you understand the sentiment. Today is absolutely dragging, and Sunday afternoon promises to do the same. The bubble shouldn’t be this stressful after being in this position so many times, and yet.
My suspicion is that we’ll find tomorrow evening that we never had all that much to worry over, but what’s that do for the amount of worrying I’m doing currently? Not one damn thing. Maybe I’ll just try to sleep until 5 p.m. tomorrow. Yes, there’s an idea!
There’s a good amount of variance about NC State’s tournament position among bracketologists. State’s actually out of the field entirely in 14 of the 108 projections tracked by bracketmatrix.com—and still as high at a nine-seed in some projections, like Jerry Palm’s, for instance.
Joe Lunardi has State among the last four in, and behind both Mississippi State and Rutgers in the pecking order—I’m not sure about that. Patrick Stevens has NC State clear of the last four spots, though not by much. He writes, “the Wolfpack shouldn’t worry too much about actually making the field. N.C. State doesn’t have a perfect profile, but it isn’t seriously flawed.”
The good news, as Stevens also notes, is that there aren’t that many potential bid thieves left. Ohio State got KO’d by Purdue earlier today, striking one. Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, UAB, and Tulane remain as possible party-crashers, though Vandy is currently down 24 at the break, and Cincinnati is down 10 to Houston in the second half.
Vandy is an NC State win that has aged nicely—who knew that one would end up so important? Dayton, which finished second in the A-10, is still alive in its league tournament, and that’s proven an underrated win for State. (The A-10 is a one-bid league so it’s safe to root for the Flyers.) Furman, which State beat by 19, is dancing after winning the SoCon tournament.
NC State’s non-conference schedule wasn’t good, but the Pack has some solid results to point to. Maybe just as importantly, it has no bad losses. State has one loss against a team outside the KenPom top-100, and that’s Syracuse, which was well inside the top 100 at the time but promptly tanked after that game.
I feel better when I run through the situation like this, though I reckon I’ll have a doomsday scenario running through my head in no time. I’ll keep going back and forth, driving myself half insane, right up to the selection show. It’s NC State bubble tradition.