The N.C. State Wolfpack picked up a valuable win over the Virginia Cavaliers in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament today, which complements an earlier sweep of a fellow bubble team, the Miami Hurricanes, and a November win over the Texas Longhorns, another team fighting for a bid. That puts the Wolfpack into my projected field as of this evening, while dropping the Hurricanes, the last team in this morning, down.
The Cavaliers' case took a hit with the loss, as Virginia's profile is not quite as solid as you would think, mostly because they lack a standout win other than their victory over the Michigan Wolverines back on November 29th. And they weren't the only team whose case is looking shakier after the afternoon's games. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles dropped their second game to the Marshall Thundering Herd in the span of a week. The Golden Eagles' computer numbers, bolstered by an RPI ranking in the Top 20, should be good enough, but teams on lines five through seven of the bracket will likely be rooting for a matchup with Larry Eustachy's squad.
Still, both squads should avoid a trip to Dayton with room to spare. The quartet that may have to play that extra game, including the Wolfpack, follows.
Last Four In
All records and RPI and SOS are accurate as of Friday, March 9, 2012 and are courtesy BBState.com. Records only reflect games against Division I competition, per Selection Committee standards.
USF (19-13, 13-7 Big East, RPI: 40, SOS: 27, non-conf. SOS: 28)
The Bulls must sit and wait after they were completely unable to put away Notre Dame on Thursday night. A win at Louisville and home triumphs over Cincinnati and fellow bubble team Seton Hall boost the Bulls' profile, but early season struggles could make this a close call for USF.
N.C. State (22-11, 11-7 ACC, RPI: 53, SOS: 26, non-conf. SOS: 65)
The Wolfpack toppled Virginia this afternoon to pick up another quality win, with recent victories by Miami and Texas also boosting N.C. State's case. A win over North Carolina in tomorrow's ACC semifinal would all but seal the deal for Mark Gottfried's squad.
Tennessee (17-13, 10-6 SEC, RPI: 76, SOS: 31, non-conf. SOS: 44)
The Volunteers looked like a team that would be able to enjoy a relaxing Spring Break after early losses to Austin Peay, College of Charleston and Oakland, but Jarnell Stokes' arrival early in the SEC season revitalized Cuonzo Martin's squad, which now owns four RPI Top 50 wins. The No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament faces a virtual elimination game with Mississippi, one of the Next Four Out, this evening.
Mississippi State (21-11, 8-9 SEC, RPI: 65, SOS: 66, non-conf. SOS: 52)
One standout win (at Vanderbilt) and a handful of decent ones (Alabama, West Virginia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arizona) help the Bulldogs' case. Maddening inconsistency, highlighted by two losses at the hands of Georgia and a loss at Auburn, do not.
First Four Out
Miami (19-11, 10-7 ACC, RPI: 55, SOS: 41, non-conf. SOS: 50)
Now that N.C. State's profile has been bolstered by improved victories, Miami, which has fewer Top 100 wins than the Wolfpack, needs to respond. A victory over Florida State in tonight's final ACC quarterfinal is vital for Hurricanes' hopes.
Seton Hall (20-12, 9-11 Big East, RPI: 62, SOS: 44, non-conf. SOS: 31)
On the surface, the Pirates should be in good shape, thanks to three wins over the Top 50 and seven over the Top 100. However, late losses to Rutgers and DePaul, their two worst, mean Seton Hall has likely left a bad late impression for the Committee.
Northwestern (18-13 8-11 Big Ten, RPI: 47, SOS: 12, non-conf. SOS: 9)
Thursday's loss to Minnesota likely doomed the Wildcats, who own just one Top 50 win (against 10 losses), to the NIT. A pair of close losses to Michigan and a last-second home defeat to Ohio State were missed opportunities for Northwestern.
Washington (21-10, 14-5 Pac-12, RPI: 54, SOS: 81, non-conf. SOS: 101)
Yes, the Huskies won the Pac-12 regular season crown, but given the conference's struggles this season, that doesn't really mean much. Making matters worse, Washington dropped its tournament quarterfinal to Oregon State on Thursday. One win against the Top 50 and a lackluster 4-7 mark against the Top 100 may not be enough to get the Huskies in.
Dayton, which has earned three Top 50 wins and an 8-7 record against the Top 100, can rocket up the S-curve with a win over Xavier tonight. Another team with an opportunity is Mississippi, thanks to their contest against Tennessee.
My next full bracket update will be posted on Saturday morning. Expect a few more twists and turns before then.