Weekend Creates Potential for NCAA

UPDATE: 12:15ET, Monday, February 21, 2005
The News & Observer ran a similarly-focused article proclaiming that the “Wolfpack Needs Wins”. In the article, CollegeRPI.com’s Jerry Palm echoes my exact sentiment, “N.C. State made two small steps in the right direction this past week To me, they have to win at least three of four just to get in the [NCAA Tournament] conversation. I don’t think three of four gets them in the tournament. It gets them in the position to be talked about by the [NCAA] committee. If you want to call that ‘the bubble,’ they’d be on it. That’s it.”

My entry that follows (and was written Sunday) provides more detail and discussion supporting Palm’s conclusion. —————

NC State did not play a basketball game this weekend, yet the Wolfpack moved closer to a potential NCAA Tournament berth.

Now, please don’t read that statement as a claim that NC State is necessarily “close to an NCAA Tournament bid.” I didn’t say that. People’s perspectives of “closeness” is highly subjective. My point is – nothing that happened in the ACC this weekend hurt the Wolfpack’s hopes of securing an NCAA Tournament berth prior to the start of the ACC Tournament.

The Atlantic Coast Conference
The conventional wisdom among College Basketball announcers and self-proclaimed “Bracketologists” is that the Atlantic Coast Conference will secure a total of six NCAA Tournament berths. I do not subscribe to this kind of “wisdom” and think it is dangerous to project brackets based on set numbers per conference.

It is my opinion that if the NCAA Tournament started today that the conference would actually place only five teams into the dance.


Strange things are happening in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.
* Had I done this analysis on Saturday afternoon, Miami would have squeezed into the tournament as the ACC’s 6th bid. But, the Hurricanes lost to Virginia Tech on Saturday night and now sit with an RPI around #45 without a significant, signature win.

* Virginia Tech currently sits in 5th place in the conferences standings with a 7-6 conference record; but the Hokies are only 14-10 overall. IMHO, no way that the Hokies high-90’s RPI ranking and identical strength of schedule secures the Hokies an at-large bid. With remaining conference games @ NC State, @ Clemson, and at home against Maryland, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Hokies are without hope, however. The selection committee would be hard pressed to pass over an ACC team with an 8-8 conference record despite their RPI. The Hokies can still reach 9-7 in the ACC.

NC State
If the season ended today, the Pack would NOT be a part of the tournament field; but the season does not end today.

Eight days ago, there seemed that there was little that State could do with its remaining regular season schedule to earn a Tournament berth. It looked as though the Pack would need to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament to advance to the Big Dance for the fourth consecutive season.

After winning two consecutive games for the first time in 2005, the Pack pulled off a sweep of Maryland and Georgia Tech. These victories moved State into a position where the rest of the regular season is not yet completely moot.

The importance of the Wolfpack’s wins over Maryland and Georgia Tech are detailed in the table below, and underscore the importance of the Terps’ and Jackets’ dramatic victories this weekend. Had either of these teams lost this weekend, they would have moved squarely back to the bubble and diluted the value of State’s wins.
* Maryland’s double overtime victory over Virginia on Saturday has all but assured the Terps of a claim to the ACC’s 4th Tournament bid. (The Terps still get to host Clemson in College Park).

* Georgia Tech pulled a miracle in Tallahassee today and solidifed their resume while avoiding disaster.

vs 2005 NCAA Teams v1

State’s Next Two Weeks
NC State’s sweeps of Maryland and Georgia Tech are all that allows Wolfpackers to even dream about the NCAA Tournament this year. Bad losses (St. John’s, Florida State, even Virginia Tech’s bad RPI) coupled with an embarassing out of conference strength of schedule have put the Wolfpack behind 8-ball going into the last two weeks of the season. We need a lot of things to fall into place.

In of our control:
(1) A loss to VPI or Virginia dooms the Pack. A loss to VPI would be devastating as it would put the Hokies in a position to claim the ACC’s hypothetical “6th bid” The ACC Tournament is the only thing that could save us.
(2) A 4-0 record to close out the season and State stamps their ticket to the dance prior to the ACC.
(3) A 3-1 record would include at least one win over Wake or Carolina. This puts the Pack in consideration for a bid and gives us a chance to solidify that consideration with a first round ACC Tournament victory.

Out of our control:
(1) Maryland and Georgia Tech need to continue to achieve as much success as possible during the regular season’s home stretch. The better they do, the better the Pack does. (For example, State’s RPI has improved over 15 points without playing a game over the last few days as the Terps and Jackets have won).
(2) West Virginia has played their way back into outside consideration (probably about where State is now). If the Mountaineers can catch fire the Wolfpack will benefit.
(3) Louisiana Lafayette is hovering around Bubble. It certainly can’t hurt for the Rajun Cajuns to make the Tournament.

General NCS Basketball

9 Responses to Weekend Creates Potential for NCAA

  1. Trout 02/21/2005 at 8:03 AM #

    Good analysis Jeff. If NC State had just taken care of business AT HOME against FSU and UVA, they would be 17-8 and 7-5 in the ACC, and in fine position to make the tournament. I “understand” road losses to “weaker” teams (on paper) such as VT and Miamia. Home losses, no excuses.

    GT got a miracle save for their season against FSU. And that MD/UVA game is the game of the season to date. Gillen is on the way out in Charlottesville, but I tip my hat to him and his team. They are NOT giving up on Pete.

    Also, which RPI numbers do you “trust” the most? And does Sagarin come into play anywhere during selection time?

  2. Tim Hunter 02/21/2005 at 1:11 PM #

    Great analysis JB! Thanks for putting it together.

  3. BJD95 02/21/2005 at 2:20 PM #

    Good update – I agree with Palm completely. We’re not even in the conversation unless we get to 8-8. So fantasy scenarios about 7-9 plus a good ACCT showing are just that – pure fantasy.

    If we get to 8-8, we really need to be in the 4/5 game. Otherwise, we’re going to have to beat Wake or Duke on short rest, and I don’t like those odds. 8-8 with an opening round win over Clemson or FSU doesn’t get it done, IMHO.

  4. Bigslowrock 02/22/2005 at 12:41 AM #

    If we get to 8-8 and win the first round, there is no way that we aren’t dancing. Of course, Lee and Herb will be vidicated about thier sorrry scheduling and we will have to endure another 4 year cycle of this madness

  5. John 02/22/2005 at 12:56 PM #

    It’s amazing how consistent the numbers are when you look at Sendek’s record versus NCAA participants. In his first two years of making the NCAA’s we only beat ONE NCAA team in the regular seaon. (We were something like 1-14 those two years.) In Herb’s best year we were negligibly above .500 We have never been successful against a tough schedule. The only years where we have experienced success are years where we loaded up on patsies. Imagine what our NCAA chances would be like without the the BCA wins. We would be on the NIT bubble.

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