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Bracketology 2022: Your Thursday Night Bubble Picture

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. Updated after Thursday’s afternoon games.

The cut line picture for the projected bracket as of the evening of Thursday, 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

36 teams – 3 secured auto bids – 8 presumed auto bids = 25 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) TCU | (30) Iowa State | (31) Michigan State | (32) North Carolina
(33) Creighton | (34) Boise State (MW) | (35) Marquette

(41) Loyola Chicago (MVC)

Near Locks (7)

(36) San Diego State
(37) Memphis| (38) Miami (Fla.) | (39) Davidson (A 10) | (40) Notre Dame

The Cut Line

Main Results

  • Michigan forgot how to score in the second half of the Wolverines’ Big Ten Tournament contest against Indiana. The Hoosiers overhauled them to claim a somewhat shocking 74-69 win in Indianapolis. As a result, Michigan drops down to the ‘Last Four In,’ while Indiana moves closer to the Cut Line, but not yet in. However, Mike Woodson’s team might need to beat Illinois tomorrow to break through.
  • Florida staged a furious Kowacie Reeves-fueled comeback to force overtime with Texas A&M. However, the Gators couldn’t put the Aggies away and dropped to 1-3 all-time in SEC Tournament games played in Florida, thanks to a Hassan Diarra 3 just before the buzzer in OT. Texas A&M moves into the ‘Next Four Out’ group, replacing UF, which is bound for the NIT now.
  • Duke and Providence survived close calls in their respective quarterfinals against Syracuse and Butler.
  • Both TCU and Creighton achieved ‘Lock’ status with quarterfinal victories. The Horned Frogs solved Texas for the first time this season, 65-60, following yet another furious Championship Fortnight comeback, while the Bluejays took down Marquette, 74-63, in the Big East.
  • Miami needed a Jordan Miller at the OT buzzer to defeat Boston College, 71-69, and set up a second opportunity to beat Duke this season.
  • Saint Louis stayed alive by pummeling La Salle, 71-51, in the Atlantic 10 second round.
  • Boise State survived Nevada, 71-69, to reach the Mountain West semifinals and lock down a bid.

Last Four Byes

(40) Notre Dame, (42) San Francisco, (43) Wyoming, (44) Rutgers

Last Four IN

(45) Michigan (17-14/11-9 Big Ten/8-13 vs. Q1& Q2/5-10 vs. Q1 only/NET: 31/KenPom: 33)

Had the Wolverines not managed to stop the bleeding late against Indiana today, they might have both done their metrics a bit too much damage and left the Selection Committee with a terrible final impression. However, Michigan’s five-point loss spared some blushes. Five Quad 1 wins, with three counting as high-quality victories (those against the top 30 at home, top 50 on a neutral floor, and top 75 on the road) and a lone sub-100 loss (at home against Minnesota on December 11th) should be enough—particular two of the wins came late in the season away from home (Iowa and Ohio State). Earlier victories over San Diego State and at Indiana will also help. However, I can’t help but think that this team is going to need to play an extra game one year after falling just short of the Final Four.

No games left.

(46) SMU (22-7/13-4 American/6-5 vs. Q1& Q2/2-2 vs. Q1 only/NET: 49/KenPom: 57)

The Mustangs jumped into the field today, but they will need to win their American quarterfinal game against a 19-loss Tulsa team tomorrow to remain in. 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. Tulsa (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: 38)

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.

First Four OUT

(69) Indiana (19-12/9-11 Big Ten/7-11 vs. Q1& Q2/4-7 vs. Q1 only/NET: 43/KenPom: 43)

The Hoosiers probably shouldn’t be anywhere close to the field considering that today’s win against Michigan was their first against a contender since defeating Purdue at home on January 20th. Indiana’s 4-8 closing run featured a quartet of victories against non-factors. However, today’s win, that victory over Purdue, and 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.

However, with a 1-6 mark in high-quality Q1 games, IU would be best served by defeating Illinois tomorrow to add to that total.

Next game: Friday vs. Illinois (11:30 a.m., BTN)

(70) 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)

(71) 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)

(72) 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.

Next Four Out

(73) Virginia Tech, (74) Virginia, (75) Texas A&M, (76) Oklahoma

While the Aggies get a chance to rocket up the list tomorrow at noon Eastern against Auburn (ESPN), the Hokies, Cavaliers, and Sooners are all in action tonight.

Also Considered

(77) Oregon, (78) Colorado, (79) Saint Louis, (80) St. Bonaventure, (81) Florida, (82) Iona, (83) Belmont

The Ducks and Buffaloes in action on Pac-12 Networks right now, and SLU and SBU meet tomorrow in the second A 10 quarterfinal. However, the Gators, Gaels, and Bruins are all merely making up the numbers at this point.