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Bracketology 2022: The Cut Line Picture Heading Into Thursday’s Play

A quick rundown of who has locked up 2022 NCAA Men’s Tournament bids, along with capsules on the teams on either side of the cut line.

The cut line picture for the projected bracket for Thursday morning, March 10, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from SportsLogos.net.

Acknowledgements: NET rankings and records are accurate as of Thursday, March 10, 2022. Both reflect only games against Division I teams. Selection Sheet info is from WarrenNolan.com. Team logos are from Chris Creamer’s SportsLogos.net.

All times are Eastern.

Locks

33 teams – 3 secured auto bids – 7 presumed auto bids = 23 at-large locks

In seed list order. Clinched auto bids in bold.

(1) Gonzaga (WCC) | (2) Baylor | (3) Arizona (Pac-12) | (4) Kansas (Big 12)
(5) Auburn (SEC) | (6) Kentucky| (7) Duke (ACC) | (8) Wisconsin
(9) Purdue | (10) Villanova | (11) Tennessee | (12) Texas Tech
(13) UCLA | (14) Illinois (Big Ten) | (15) Providence (Big East) | (16) Arkansas
(17) Saint Mary’s | (18) UConn | (19) Texas | (20) Houston (AAC)
(21) Alabama | (22) USC | (23) Seton Hall | (24) LSU
(25) Ohio State | (26) Murray State (OVC) | (27) Colorado State | (28) Iowa
(29) Iowa State | (30) Marquette | (31) Michigan State | (32) North Carolina

(41) Loyola Chicago (MVC)

Near Locks (7)

(33) Boise State (MW) | (34) TCU | (35) San Diego State | (36) Memphis
(37) Miami (Fla.) | (38) Davidson (A 10) | (39) Notre Dame

The Cut Line

Last Four Byes

(40) Creighton, (42) San Francisco, (43) Michigan, (44) Wyoming

Last Four IN

(45) Rutgers (18-12/12-8 Big Ten/9-9 vs. Q1& Q2/6-5 vs. Q1 only/NET: 78/KenPom: 73)

The Scarlet Knights are one of many teams that will show us how the Committee is really using the NET. The metrics really don’t care for Rutgers at all, no doubt due to five sub-100 losses, including one to 318th-ranked Lafayette. However, the Committee also has preached the importance of quality wins, which the Scarlet Knights have plenty of, including a 4-4 mark in high-quality Quad 1 games (those against the top 30 at home, top 50 on a neutral floor, and top 75 on the road). Thanks to tiebreakers, Rutgers secured a bye to the Big Ten quarterfinals on Friday, which should prevent it from picking up a late bad loss, provided Northwestern doesn’t end up as the opponent.

Next game: Friday vs. either Iowa or Northwestern (approx. 2 p.m., BTN)

(46) SMU (22-7/13-4 American/6-5 vs. Q1& Q2/2-2 vs. Q1 only/NET: 49/KenPom: 56)

The Mustangs jump into the field today, but they will likely need to win their American quarterfinal game tomorrow to remain much longer. The best things SMU’s résumé has going for it are a pair of wins over Memphis, a home victory over Houston, and a potentially crucial non-conference home win over Dayton. But the Ponies also have three head-scratching sub-100 losses, one at Temple from conference play and two from an 0-2 trip to the Jacksonville Classic in November: to Missouri and Loyola Marymount. Still, Tim Jankovich’s team has won seven of its last 10, if the Committee wants to consider how a bubble squad finished in its deliberations.

Next game: Friday vs. either Tulsa or Wichita State (7 p.m., ESPNU)

(47) Wake Forest (23-9/13-7 ACC/5-7 vs. Q1& Q2/1-4 vs. Q1 only/NET: 44/KenPom: 37)

On Wednesday afternoon, the Demon Deacons let a bid slip through their collective grasp, as they recorded their second Quad 3 loss of the season at the worst possible time, an 82-77 decision to Boston College in the ACC Second Round. While Wake Forest is 18-2 against Quads 3 and 4, it’s only 5-7 against Quads 1 and 2. Two of those victories came over teams in the projected field—North Carolina and Notre Dame, both at home. The Deacs did go 4-2 over peer ACC squads (defined as Miami, UNC, ND, Virginia, and Virginia Tech), but all of those teams will still be playing as of today, with both the Hokies and Cavaliers positioned to pass Steve Forbes’ club.

No games left.

(48) Xavier (18-13/8-11 Big East/9-11 vs. Q1& Q2/5-9 vs. Q1 only/NET: 40/KenPom: 57)

Wednesday’s overtime loss to Butler in the Big East 8 vs. 9 game was the Musketeers’ eighth in their final 10 games, with the wins coming against UConn (good) and Georgetown (not as helpful). Xavier’s profile will be yet another test for the Committee, as it shows a team that has five Q1 wins against nine losses, but two of those came at home and another came at Oklahoma State, who finished below .500. Yesterday’s setback was the second Q3 loss for Travis Steele’s team, along with an inexplicable four-point home loss to DePaul.

No games left.

In short: Both Wake Forest and Xavier remain in for now, but they are both likely to be passed over the next couple of days.

First Four OUT

(69) Dayton (22-9/14-4 Atlantic 10/8-5 vs. Q1& Q2/2-2 vs. Q1 only/NET: 52/KenPom: 47)

Based on these numbers, the Flyers should be more than safe. If you add in victories over teams like Kansas, VCU (in Richmond), Virginia Tech, Davidson, Miami, Saint Louis, and Belmont, Dayton’s profile looks even better. However, six sub-100 losses including three early Quad 4 losses and a late loss at La Salle will give the Committee plenty of reasons to keep Anthony Grant’s squad out.

Fun fact: Dayton’s average NET win and loss both come in at 156. That’s a feat that’s nearly impossible to pull off.

Next game: Friday against UMass or George Washington (6 p.m., USA)

(70) VCU (21-8/14-4 Atlantic 10/6-7 vs. Q1& Q2/3-3 vs. Q1 only/NET: 51/KenPom: 61)

Since dropping consecutive games to St. Bonaventure and Davidson in mid-January, the Rams have gone on a 11-2 run. (The anti-Xavier if you will.) However, that ended on Saturday when a furious rally at Saint Louis fell short. While VCU doesn’t have the bad losses Dayton has, as a November home loss to Wagner is the Rams’ only sub-100 defeat, the quality wins don’t quite match up. Close losses to Baylor and UConn at the Battle 4 Atlantis mean VCU’s two best non-conference wins came at Vanderbilt and Atlantis foe Syracuse. Mike Rhoades’ team split with both Davidson and Dayton, curiously beating both on the road. Get this, in the home matchups, VCU only lost by two to the Wildcats, but fell to Dayton by 30.

This picture explains why a potential meeting in Saturday’s semifinals will be a vital win for both the Flyers and VCU.

Next game: Friday against Richmond or Rhode Island (approx. 8:30 p.m., USA)

(71) BYU (20-10/9-6 WCC/7-9 vs. Q1& Q2/4-6 vs. Q1 only/NET: 54/KenPom: 50)

The Cougars could have really used a win in their rubber match with San Francisco in Saturday’s WCC quarterfinals, but USF’s 75-63 victory leaves BYU needing a lot of help to avoid the NIT. Still, victories on the Dons’ home floor and against Saint Mary’s and San Diego State help, while a 32-point blowout over Oregon in Portland might still matter a bit. However, missed opportunities littered the schedule for Mark’s Pope’s team, most prominently a pair of sub-100 losses. The first, to neighbors Utah Valley in Orem, was understandable, but the second, at 297th-ranked Pacific, isn’t in the same league.

No games left.

(72) Indiana (18-12/9-11 Big Ten/6-11 vs. Q1& Q2/3-7 vs. Q1 only/NET: 43/KenPom: 44)

The Hoosiers probably shouldn’t be anywhere close to the field considering they have gone just 4-8 since beating Purdue at home on January 20th, with all four wins coming against non-factors. However, that victory over Purdue, along with others over Notre Dame in Indy and Ohio State (also at Assembly Hall), combined with many, many close losses, have kept Indiana’s metrics in check. Mike Woodson’s team has also not lost to a sub-100 outfit, as their lone Quad 3 loss came to a Rutgers team that’s seven spots above it on the seed list.

Still, a win against Michigan today will be necessary for IU to remain in the hunt.

Next game: Today vs. Michigan (11:30 a.m., BTN)

Next Four Out

(73) Florida, (74) Virginia Tech, (75) Virginia, (76) Oklahoma

All four teams are in action today.

Also Considered

(77) Texas A&M, (78) Oregon, (79) Colorado, (80) Saint Louis, (81) St. Bonaventure, (82) Iona, (83) Belmont

The first five teams all have games left, with UO and CU playing each other (approx. 5:30 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), while St. Bonaventure must wait until tomorrow.