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Bracketology 2021: What the Cut Line picture looks like on Selection Eve morning

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There are still two Mountain West teams ranked among the “Last Four In.” That might not be the case at around 6 p.m. Mountain Time.

NCAA Basketball: Mountain West Conference Tournament- Utah St vs Colorado St
Colorado State remains in after Friday night’s loss to Utah State, a team that can remove any doubt by defeating San Diego State today.
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s full bracket

Today’s viewing guide

Last Four Byes

UCLA, Michigan State, VCU, Drake

It’s the same quartet as on Friday. Remember that VCU can earn itself the Atlantic 10’s automatic bid on Sunday afternoon in Dayton, where the Rams meet St. Bonaventure.

NET info is current as of the morning of Saturday, March 13, 2021. All data reflects games against Division I opposition only and originates from WarrenNolan.com’s selection sheets. WAB info from BartTorvik.com. Logos from SportsLogos.net. All times are Eastern.

Last Four In

Louisville

Record: 13-7 (8-5 ACC); 5-4 road/netural (R/N); 1-6 vs. Quad 1; 6-0 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: Georgia Tech (H), Virginia Tech (H), Duke (H/A), Seton Hall (H)
Bad Losses: Miami (Fla.) (A)
NET: 56
Strength of Record (SOR): 35
KenPom: 54
Sagarin: 41
Wins Above Bubble (WAB): 1.4 (39th)

For a team that many of us in the bracketology racket had safely in the field just as a week ago, I still cannot understand why that was really ever the case. Not only does Louisville have a middling 7-6 record in games against Quad 1 and 2 opponents, just two of those victories came against teams currently projected in the field—Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech. Plus, both came on the Cardinals’ home floor. This is a squad that, should it qualify, looks destined to play an extra game. However, by losing to Duke on Wednesday, Chris Mack’s squad risks being passed by teams that will be in action over the next two days.

Next game: None

Utah State

Record: 19-7 (15-5 MW); 10-6 R/N; 2-4 vs. Quad 1; 2-1 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: San Diego State (2-0 H), Colorado State (1-1 H, N)
Bad Losses: South Dakota State (N), UNLV (2-1 A)
NET: 37
SOR: 59
KenPom: 38
Sagarin: 49
WAB: -0.7 (57th)

By defeating Colorado State in Friday’s second Mountain West semifinal, Utah State is now in position to win its third straight tournament title—a result that would helpfully take the Aggies’ fate out of the Selection Committee’s hands. However, Craig Smith’s team is not riding a four-game losing streak, like Boise State, and yesterday’s win provided another boost to Aggies’ computer metrics, I suspect they’ll be in the field win or lose now.

However, if Utah State ends up out, a home loss to BYU and a disappointing 1-2 trip to Sioux Falls to start the season might have combined to cost the Aggies a bid.

Next game: San Diego State in the MW Championship (6 p.m., CBS)

Syracuse

Record: 16-9 (9-7 ACC); 3-8 R/N; 1-7 vs. Quad 1; 6-1 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: North Carolina (1-1, H win), Clemson (1-1, H win), Virginia Tech (H)
Bad Losses: Pittsburgh (0-2)
NET: 40
SOR: 42
KenPom: 41
Sagarin: 34
WAB: 0.6 (45th)

Syracuse’s advanced metrics rose after Thursday’s loss to Virginia at the buzzer. (Of course, the Cavaliers’ positive CoVID test could end up affecting the Orange’s postseason fate.) With Seton Hall on the outside looking in and Duke’s season over (also on the wrong side of the cut line), Jim Boeheim’s squad owns one more win over teams in the field than ACC rival Louisville. Much like the Cardinals, all of the Orange’s quality wins came at home. While Syracuse could have really used a victory over a Virginia, leaving the Selection Committee with a strong final impression might just be enough. Of course, Orange fans will be cheering hard against Georgetown (and Oregon State, for that matter) tonight, hoping their old enemy doesn’t burst their bubble.

Next game: None

Colorado State

Record: 17-6 (14-5 MW); 8-5 R/N; 2-4 vs. Quad 1; 1-2 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: San Diego State (1-1 A), Utah State (1-2 A/N), Boise State (1-1 H)
Bad Losses: Nevada (A)
NET: 51
SOR: 57
KenPom: 63
Sagarin: 67
WAB: 0.3 (50th)

After Friday’s loss to Utah State, Colorado State owns a 3-4 record against its Mountain West at-large rivals, with two of those three victories coming in two of the more difficult places to play in the entire country (even in a CoVID-impacted season), San Diego and Logan. Like Boise State, a loss in a makeup game last week threatened to derail Colorado State’s case, but that 85-82 defeat at Nevada is the only real blemish on the profile for Niko Medved’s team. Even with last night’s defeat, the Rams hang on, mostly due to the failings of those around them. They’re another team that will be hoping for chalk in both the Big East and Pac-12 tonight.

Next game: None

First Four Out

Saint Louis

Record: 14-6 (6-4 Atlantic 10); 2-5 R/N; 2-3 vs. Quad 1; 2-1 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: Saint Bonaventure (H), LSU (H)
Bad Losses: Dayton (0-2), La Salle (A)
NET: 45
SOR: 62
KenPom: 47
Sagarin: 53
WAB: -0.7 (60th)

Over the past few days, there were rumors that Travis Ford was trying to line up a non-conference game to bolster Saint Louis’s case. Well, the NCAA put the kibosh on that. So, the Billikens are stuck with the profile they have. Thus, their inability to win away from Chaifetz Arena and 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

Boise State

Record: 17-8 (14-6 MW); 7-7 R/N; 2-4 vs. Quad 1; 2-3 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: BYU (A), Colorado State (1-1 A), Utah State (2-0 H)
Bad Losses: Nevada (0-3), Fresno State (1-1 H)
NET: 50
SOR: 68
KenPom: 60
Sagarin: 58
WAB: -0.7 (59th)

Heading into Thursday, Boise State’s Wins Above Bubble mark was right at zero, making the Broncos the quintessential bubble team. However, after Thursday’s 89-82 loss to Nevada—the Broncos’ third to the Wolf Pack—that’s no longer the case. While Leon Rice’s squad owns the best win of any of the three Mountain West teams hanging around the cut line— at WCC runner-up BYU, and a sweep of Utah State, the Broncos also own four of the worst losses.

Boise State has now dropped four straight, two of which did not feature forward Abu Kigab. However, the Selection Committee generally considers injuries only during seeding, not selection, which does not work to Boise State’s benefit.

Next game: None

Ole Miss

Record: 16-11 (10-8 SEC); 6-7 R/N; 3-5 vs. Quad 1; 4-4 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: Tennessee (H), Missouri (H, A)
Bad Losses: Georgia (0-2), Mississippi State (1-1, A win), Dayton (A), Wichita State (H), Vanderbilt (A)
NET: 53
SOR: 64
KenPom: 48
Sagarin: 56
WAB: -1.2 (68th)

For a time on Friday night, it looked like Ole Miss was going to leap into the field by toppling LSU. The Rebels ended up falling, but since the Tigers only won by a 76-73 score, the result didn’t do too much damage to Mississippi’s metrics. If the Selection Committee puts extra weight on computer numbers in this most disjointed of seasons, the Rebels might end up as a surprise at-large. But if the Committee leans on quality wins, Ole Miss might have just come up short.

Next game: None

Memphis

Record: 16-7 (11-4 American); 6-7 R/N; 0-3 vs. Quad 1; 4-3 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: Saint Mary’s (N), Wichita State (H), SMU (1-1 H)
Bad Losses: Tulsa (H/A)
NET: 52
SOR: 69
KenPom: 40
Sagarin: 45
WAB: -0.7 (62nd)

Memphis likely needs to win both today against Houston and tomorrow against either Wichita State or Cincinnati to make the field, thanks to a lack of wins over teams guaranteed to be in the field (though Wichita State is getting closer). On Sunday, the Cougars broke the Tigers’ hearts to steal a home win at the buzzer. Penny Hardaway’s club might need to return the favor to remain in the at-large picture.

Next game: Houston in the American Semifinals (5:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Next Four Out

Duke, Seton Hall. St. John’s, Xavier, SMU

With the Pirates falling to Georgetown in the Big East semifinals and the Mustangs losing their first game played in over a month, these four teams can do nothing bit sit and wait, likely for an NIT bid.

Update 1:54 p.m. Eastern: According to the News & Observer, Duke’s season isn’t necessarily over. So, the Blue Devils are back on the bubble and SMU drops off.