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Bracketology 2021: What the Cut Line picture looks like after Cincinnati tops Wichita State

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Welcome to the bubble, Shockers.

NCAA Basketball: AAC Conference Tournament - Cincinnati vs Wichita State
If you want to see Morris Udeze and Wichita State in the NCAAs, you’ll need to root for chalk between now and Sunday evening.
Ben Ludeman-USA TODAY Sports

Last Four Byes

UCLA, VCU, Drake, Syracuse

After another look at the teams’ profiles and Saturday’s result in Fort Worth, the Orange are promoted to the “Last Four Byes” group, while Michigan State jumps out of danger.

Remember that VCU can remove all doubt with a win over St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon.

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.

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, but 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 (58th)

By defeating Colorado State in Friday’s second Mountain West semifinal, Utah State is now positioned 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)

Wichita State

Record: 14-5 (11-2 American); 6-3 R/N; 2-3 vs. Quad 1; 2-1 vs. Quad 2
Quality Wins: Houston (1-1 HW), Ole Miss (A)
Bad Losses: Cincinnati (N)
NET: 64
SOR: 32
KenPom: 70
Sagarin: 60
WAB: 2.1 (31st)

Wichita State played with fire on Friday, when the Shockers defeated USF by just one, and got burned today, losing to Cincinnati by the same margin. Despite their performance in Fort Worth, Issac Brown’s first Shocker team is within striking distance of a bid, thanks to a good home win over Houston, a potential tie-breaking win at Ole Miss, and a general lack of bad losses. Wichita State’s metrics are all over the place, with Wins Above Bubble and strength of record having the Shockers as a solid at-large pick, while NET, KenPom, and Sagarin are more sanguine. Regardless, the American’s regular-season champs will be pulling for Colorado, Creighton, Houston, and San Diego State tonight.

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

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

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

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

The News & Observer reported this afternoon that Duke’s season isn’t necessarily over. So, the Blue Devils (13-11, 49 NET, -1.7 WAB (76th)) are back on the bubble. SMU drops out of the picture as a result.