So you’re 6-4 in league play, but your league is so bad that you’re only on the bubble’s bubble at the start of February? Hmm, this is not good, not good at all. What sort of scenarios can we find to get you out of this pickle? Is there time still to eat your way out of the pickle? Tough to say. It’s a robust pickle.
But we can take a few stabs at what it’ll take. Bart Torvik’s Teamcast tool lets us set results for all remaining games and see how that impacts tournament positioning. Currently, Torvik’s tourney projection has a mere 26 would-be at-large teams in between NC State and the last team in the field. That’s a lot of teams to surpass. Is it too many teams to surpass? Thankfully, no. If we were talking about needing to leap 28 teams? Too many. Might as well pack it up. But 26? No problem. Just wanted to note this, the eternal optimist that I am.
Anyway, let’s start with a 5-5 finish, with State winning all its remaining home games and losing all its remaining road games, for a final 19-12 (11-9) record—what’s that do? Still 21 teams between State and the field. No good.
Let’s flip the Wake and Pitt road trips to wins, pushing State to 21-10 (13-7). Better—that gets us to the Next Four Out. Okay, let’s flip the Wake game to a loss and the Clemson road trip to a win. A-ha! NC State has cracked the Last Four In, two teams clear of the cut line, and is packing for Dayton. Same scenario, but flipping the FSU game to a win and the Pitt game to a loss: still in, but as the last team in.
What happens if State loses to both Wake and Clemson, but beats both FSU and Pitt, still finishing 13-7? Half a dozen spots out.
In all of these adjustments, I’ve kept the baseline of winning all five remaining home games. That’s a necessity I think. Gotta have that Duke win on the resume. I’m not even entertaining the thought of a win at UNC, because we know how it goes in that building.
So: win every home game, beat Clemson at Clemson, split the Pitt/FSU trips. I’ll check back in on this in a few weeks—if there’s still a reason to—but for now this appears to be the path. No sweat!