Updated: Wednesday, 1:04 p.m.
N.C. State has plenty of company on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, but there's not enough room for all the teams.
Sixty-eight teams make the tournament, with 37 at-large bids. Twenty-eight teams look relatively safe (see list below). That leaves nine spots for a consensus (from projection sites) of 18 teams. N.C. State is currently considered to be at the bottom of the bubble, with a chance to move up in the ACC tournament.
The better question than, "Will N.C. State get in?" is, "Which teams will N.C. State be compared with by the selection committee?"
The Wolfpack, with wins over fellow bubble teams Texas and Miami (two, actually, over the Hurricanes), would welcome a chance to be put up on the committee's "big board" with either of those teams. In theory, head-to-head results matter. They did last year between Virginia Tech and Clemson, but there's no guarantee N.C. State will be compared with Miami or Texas.
If the committee sorts the teams by top 50 wins, the Pack (zero) is at the bottom of the list. If the committee goes by top 100 wins (five), the Pack would be in the middle, and if the committee goes by strength of schedule (23rd), the Pack would be at the top.
If I had to guess — and that's all anyone is doing other than the actual committee members — just based on top 50 and top 100 wins, Colorado State, Seton Hall and BYU should feel good. For recent ACC bubble teams anyway, three top 50 wins has been a magic number, and those three teams hit that number.
N.C. State needs to win as many games at it can in Atlanta. Two would help but three (which would probably mean a win over North Carolina) would be the safest way into the NCAA tournament.
A comparison of the 18 teams on the bubble:
|RPI||W-L||SoS||top 50||top 100|
Note: SoS is nonconference strength of schedule
And, the "best" wins by the bubble teams:
Colorado State: UNLV (14), San Diego State (26)
Saint Louis: Washington (53), Xavier (57, twice)
Iona: Nevada (46), St. Joseph's (54)
South Florida: @ Louisville (28), Seton Hall (60)
BYU: Gonzaga (23), Nevada (46)
Northwestern: Michigan State (5), Seton Hall (60)
Oregon: Washington (53), @ Arizona (77)
Texas: Temple (13), Iowa State (31)
Miami: @ Duke (4), FSU (24)
N.C. State: Texas (52), Miami (55, twice)
Xavier: @ Vanderbilt (27), Purdue (40)
Ole Miss: Alabama (32), Miami (55)
Seton Hall: Georgetown (10), UConn (34)
Mississippi State: @ Vanderbilt (27), Alabama (32)
Drexel: VCU (38), George Mason (81)
Dayton: @ Temple (13), Saint Louis (30)
Tennessee: Vanderbilt (27), Florida (29, twice)
Arizona: @ Cal (37), New Mexico State (69)
And the list of the 28 "safe" teams (note: for counting purposes, the regular-season conference winners — Syracuse, Ohio State, Kansas, UNC, Kentucky, New Mexico, Washington, Memphis — presume their respective conference's automatic bid; Creighton and St. Mary's have already won their respective conference tournaments):
Big East (7): Marquette, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Louisville, West Virginia, UConn
Big Ten (5): Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, Purdue
Big 12 (4): Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas State
ACC (3): Florida State, Duke, Virginia
SEC (3): Florida, Vanderbilt, Alabama
Mountain West (2): UNLV, San Diego State
Pac-12 (1): Cal
C-USA (1): Southern Miss
Missouri Valley (1): Wichita State
West Coast (1): Gonzaga
All RPI numbers and records according to CollegeRPI.com