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Bracketology 2021: An updated look at the cut line heading into Thursday night

Despite Syracuse’s loss to Virginia, the Orange hang on for now. In the Big East, Seton Hall and St. John’s switch quartets.

NCAA Basketball: Big East Conference Tournament-St. John vs Seton Hall
Seton Hall just took down St. John’s after overtime to advance to the Big East semifinals on Friday night.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s bracket

Today’s viewing guide

Last Four Byes

Rutgers, Michigan State, VCU, Colorado State

While the Rams still have a few hours until they meet Fresno State (11:30 p.m., CBSSN) in the Mountain West quarterfinals, Maryland earned a little breathing room by defeating Michigan State in the first Big Ten Tournament game of the day. Rutgers, who meets Indiana in the first game of the night session in Indianapolis (6:30 p.m. B1G Network) replaces the Terps in this quartet.

NET info is current as of the morning of Thursday, March 11, 2021. All data reflects games against Division I opposition only and originates from’s selection sheets. Logos from All times are Eastern.

Last Four In


Record: 13-7 (8-5 ACC); 5-4 road/netural (R/N); 1-5 vs. Quad 1; 6-1 vs. Quad 2
NET: 57
Strength of Record (SOR): 37
KenPom: 56
Sagarin: 41
Wins Above Bubble (WAB): 1.3 (41st)

The Cardinals dropped their ACC Tournament opener to Duke, who is now out of the event thanks to a positive CoVID test. That may end up affecting Louisville’s ability to play down the road, but for now, let’s focus on the Cards’ profile. For a team that many of us in the bracketology racket had safely in the field just as a week ago, I’m not seeing why that was really ever the case. Chris Mack’s squad has a middling 7-6 record in games against Quad 1 and 2 opponents, with just two victories against teams currently projected in the field—Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Both of those came at the Bucket. This is a squad that, should it qualify, looks destined to play an extra game. However, by losing on Wednesday, Louisville risks being passed by the teams that will be in action on Thursday and beyond.

Next game: None


Record: 23-4 (15-3 MVC); 12-2 R/N; 1-2 vs. Quad 1; 5-0 vs. Quad 2
NET: 45
SOR: 47
KenPom: 54
Sagarin: 71
WAB: 1.6 (38th)

If the Bulldogs had gotten the opportunity to play (and defeat) Colorado during their common season-opening exempt event at Kansas State, we might not be having this discussion. Instead, Drake was scheduled against, and defeated, the hosts (189th in the NET) and South Dakota (178th) in Manhattan. When Darian DeVries’s squad finally got its chance at a top-tier squad, it was blown out at home by eventual Arch Madness champ Loyola by 37 in game one. Amazingly, the Bulldogs managed to win the rematch the following day by a single point in overtime to earn their solitary Quad 1 victory. Honestly, it’s Drake’s losses that hurt more than anything else, as the defeat against the Ramblers and a 17-point loss at 224th-ranked Valparaiso, combined with another bad loss, to No. 171 Bradley, have helped to deflate the Bulldogs’ NET.

However, Drake’s great overall record, 6-2 mark in Quad 1 and 2 games, and impressive record away from the Knapp Center should result in a bid, particularly with the quality of teams around them.

Next game: None

Boise State

Record: 17-7 (14-6 MW); 7-6 R/N; 2-4 vs. Quad 1; 2-2 vs. Quad 2
NET: 43
SOR: 59
KenPom: 57
Sagarin: 52
WAB: 0 (51st)

With a Wins Above Bubble mark sitting right at zero, the Broncos are the quintessential bubble team. While Boise State has the best win of any of the three Mountain West teams hanging around the cut line— at WCC runner-up BYU, it also owns three of the worst losses. Leon Rice’s team fell by two and 11 at Nevada in early February and dropped a home makeup game against 188th-ranked Fresno State last Tuesday. Making matters worse for BSU, the Wolf Pack loom in this afternoon’s second Mountain West quarterfinal. After splitting with Colorado State (ahead of Boise State in the pecking order), sweeping Utah State (behind the Broncos), and going winless against league champ San Diego State (a tournament lock), Boise needs a win today badly.

Note that the Broncos will be without forward Abu Kigab today, which is a blow to their frontcourt.

Next game: Nevada in the MW Quarterfinals (in progress, CBSSN)


Record: 16-9 (9-7 ACC); 3-7 R/N; 1-7 vs. Quad 1; 5-1 vs. Quad 2
NET: 39
SOR: 42
KenPom: 44
Sagarin: 37
WAB: 0.6 (48th)

While advanced metrics started to elevate the Orange over the bubble crowd, their lackluster overall record and a Quad 1/2 mark that is now worse than Louisville’s hurts their case. One advantage Syracuse owns over the Cardinals, however, is an additional win over a team projected in the field, as Jim Boeheim’s squad has defeated North Carolina, Clemson, and Virginia Tech. With all of those wins coming at the Dome, Syracuse could have really used a victory over a top 15 Virginia squad in today’s ACC quarterfinals. Still, losing at the buzzer has to have left the Selection Committee with a strong final impression, particularly when compared to Louisville’s 14-point loss to Duke.

Next game: None

First Four Out

Saint Louis

Record: 14-6 (6-4 Atlantic 10); 2-4 R/N; 2-3 vs. Quad 1; 2-1 vs. Quad 2
NET: 46
SOR: 60
KenPom: 49
Sagarin: 54
WAB: -0.7 (61st)

The Billikens’ inability to win away from Chaifetz Arena, along with scheduling issues created by CoVID, look likely to conspire to keep SLU out. Sure, Saint Louis has Quad 1 wins over LSU and Saint Bonaventure, along with Quad 2 victories over Richmond and NC State, but road losses to Dayton (part of a season sweep), VCU, and (most damagingly) La Salle are all red flags. Plus, losing by 18 to the Bonnies in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals means Travis Ford’s club left the Committee with a lousy final impression.

Next game: None

Utah State

Record: 17-7 (15-5 MW); 8-6 R/N; 2-4 vs. Quad 1; 1-1 vs. Quad 2
NET: 49
SOR: 68
KenPom: 48
Sagarin: 51
WAB: -1.1 (68th)

Despite sweeping San Diego State, the Aggies rank behind both Boise State and Colorado State in the Mountain West bubble pecking order because of their 1-3 record against their two rivals, along with a pair of Quad 3 losses, against South Dakota State in the Dakota Crossover Classic and, more worryingly, UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center. And guess who Craig Smith’s team meets tonight in the conference quarterfinals.

A home loss to BYU and a disappointing 1-2 trip to Sioux Falls to start the season might end up costing Utah State a bid.

Next game: UNLV in the MW Quarterfinals (9 p.m., CBSSN)

Ole Miss

Record: 15-10 (10-8 SEC); 5-6 R/N; 3-4 vs. Quad 1; 5-4 vs. Quad 2
NET: 53
SOR: 62
KenPom: 52
Sagarin: 58
WAB: -0.9 (63rd)

If you challenged me to focus on just one team out of these eight this weekend, I would pick the Rebels. They have three wins over teams in the field, including a sweep of Missouri, and their “bad” losses aren’t that terrible, even if five of them came against teams ranked outside of the NET top 75. If Kermit Davis’s team can make it to Friday’s quarterfinal against LSU and win it, Ole Miss might just be in the bid business in 2021.

Next game: South Carolina in the SEC Second Round (9:30 p.m., SECN)

Seton Hall

Record: 14-12 (10-9 Big East); 7-8 R/N; 3-7 vs. Quad 1; 4-4 vs. Quad 2
NET: 58
SOR: 55
KenPom: 51
Sagarin: 49
WAB: -0.9 (64th)

On Thursday afternoon, the Pirates took care of business in their bubble showdown with St. John’s, winning after overtime to set up a Friday semifinal with ... Georgetown. That’s not the Quad 1 win opportunity against Villanova the Hall was hoping for, but it does set Kevin Willard’s team up well to at least make Saturday’s final. At that point, Seton Hall might as well just go ahead and claim the auto bid and remove all doubt.

As for the Pirates’ at-large case, while they have seven Quad 1 and 2 wins, they have just one victory over a team projected in the field, a seven-point victory at UConn when the Huskies were without James Bouknight. A one-point loss at Louisville on Thanksgiving Friday looks like a major missed opportunity, as does a two-point loss at Villanova when the Wildcats were healthy. The Hall also has two sub-100 road losses, at Rhode Island and Butler, weighing its profile down.

Next game: Georgetown in the Big East Semifinals (Friday, 6 p.m., FS1)

Next Four Out

St. John’s, SMU, Xavier, Memphis

With the Red Storm and Musketeers eliminated from the Big East Tournament, only SMU and Memphis will be able to improve their placement on the court when they take the floor in the American Athletic quarters on Friday.