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Bracketology 2022: The Friday Morning Bubble Picture

Yesterday’s action saw significant shuffling around the cut line. Expect to see even more with today’s busy schedule.

The cut line picture for the bracket projection for the morning of Friday, March 11, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from SportsLogos.net.

Acknowledgements: NET rankings and records are accurate as of Friday, March 11, 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.

Full Bracket

Locks

39 teams – 3 secured auto bids – 8 presumed auto bids = 29 at-large locks

In seed list order. Clinched auto bids in bold.

(1) Gonzaga (WCC) | (2) Arizona (Pac-12) | (3) Kansas (Big 12) | (4) Baylor
(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) Houston (AAC) | (20) Texas
(21) USC | (22) LSU | (23) Iowa | (24) TCU
(25) Alabama | (26) Murray State (OVC) | (27) Colorado State | (28) Seton Hall
(29) Ohio State | (30) North Carolina | (31) Michigan State | (32) Creighton
(33) Boise State (MW) | (34) San Diego State | (35) Miami | (36) Memphis
(37) Marquette | (38) Iowa State | (39) Loyola Chicago (MVC)

Near Locks (1)

(40) Davidson (A10)

The Wildcats cannot lose to Fordham in the day’s first Atlantic 10 quarterfinal (12 p.m., USA).

The Cut Line

Main Results

  • Much like Indiana’s 74-69 win over Michigan to begin the day, Oklahoma used a 72-67 win over Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament’s 2 vs. 7 semifinal to vault back into the thick of the at-large race.
  • Virginia Tech took down Notre Dame, 87-80, in the third ACC quarterfinal to advance to a must-win semifinal against North Carolina, who knocked Virginia off the bubble, 63-43.
  • All four Mountain West at-large contenders advanced to tonight’s semifinals, so a quartet of representatives is the best the conference can hope for.
  • While there are still potential surprise auto bid winners lurking in the Big Ten and SEC, the most dangerous teams lurking in brackets are Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, and ... Colorado, which knocked out Oregon yesterday afternoon, 80-69. That sets up a semifinal rubber match between the Buffaloes and Arizona (9 p.m., Pac-12 Networks). Tad Boyle’s team needs the auto bid to qualify, and they just might do it.

Bubble Talk on College Hoops Coast to Coast

In Friday’s episode of College Basketball Coast to Coast, TJ Rives and I covered many of these teams and what they have to do today right on through Sunday.

Last Four Byes

(41) Wyoming, (42) San Francisco, (43) Rutgers, (44) Michigan

Last Four IN

(45) Oklahoma (18-14/7-11 Big Ten/10-13 vs. Q1& Q2/4-11 vs. Q1 only/NET: 38/KenPom: 32)

Margins are so narrow on this year’s bubble, that a win over a potential No. 1 seed, Baylor, can vault a team like the Sooners from Thursday morning’s ‘Next Four Out’ to the top First Four berth. While OU’s 4-11 record against Q1 teams is poor, the Sooners’ win on Thursday night is their third ‘high-quality’ win (victories over the NET Top 30 at home, Top 50 on a neutral floor, and Top 75 on the road). The others came against Arkansas, by 22 in Tulsa in December, and Texas Tech, by 15 on February 9th. And guess who the Sooners play tonight?

Next game: Tonight vs. Texas Tech (approx. 9:30 p.m., ESPN2)

(46) Indiana (19-12/9-11 Big Ten/7-11 vs. Q1& Q2/4-7 vs. Q1 only/NET: 41/KenPom: 43)

The Hoosiers probably shouldn’t be anywhere close to the field considering that yesterday’s comeback win over Michigan was their first against a contender since defeating Purdue at home on January 20th. IU’s 4-8 pre-Big Ten Tournament slate featured just victories against non-factors. However, Thursday’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 three 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 this afternoon to add to that total.

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

(47) Xavier (18-13/8-11 Big East/9-11 vs. Q1& Q2/5-9 vs. Q1 only/NET: 40/KenPom: 59)

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.

(48) Notre Dame (21-10/15-5 ACC/4-9 vs. Q1& Q2/3-7 vs. Q1 only/NET: 53/KenPom: 52)

The Fighting Irish would have locked up a bid with a win over Virginia Tech in Thursday’s ACC quarterfinals. Instead, Mike Brey’s team might just be passed by the Hokies on the way down to the NIT. For Notre Dame, the question that must be asked is “How far can a home win over Kentucky take you in the Committee room?” Sure, the Irish won 15 ACC games, but two of the losses aren’t great (at Boston College and Florida State), while their record against fellow ACC bubble teams now stands at just 2-3.

It’s going to be a long, anxious wait in South Bend over the next three days.

No games left.

First Four OUT

(69) Virginia Tech (21-12/11-9 ACC/7-10 vs. Q1& Q2/1-6 vs. Q1 only/NET: 33/KenPom: 27)

If the NET was as predictable as the RPI was when it was the tool used during selection, the Hokies would be a lock. However, it’s not, and that’s where Virginia Tech’s problems begin. Lots of early blowouts and a handful of close losses have bolstered Tech’s computer numbers, but a deeper look at its profile shows its flaws. The Hokies’ lone Q1 win came at Miami. They’re 0-3 against Duke and UNC and 2-3 against their ACC bubble rivals after last night’s win over Notre Dame.

At least Mike Young’s team still controls its own fate in that it can still beat the Tar Heels tonight to get to the ACC final. But given the entire picture, Virginia Tech might need to cut down the nets in Brooklyn (no pun intended) to hear its name called on Sunday evening.

Next game: Tonight vs. North Carolina (approx. 9:30 p.m., ESPN)

(70) SMU (22-7/13-4 American/6-5 vs. Q1& Q2/2-1 vs. Q1 only/NET: 48/KenPom: 58)

The Mustangs jumped into the field on Thursday and fell out after Indiana and Oklahoma’s wins last night. Now, they will need to win their American quarterfinal game against a 19-loss Tulsa team tonight to remain in the hunt. 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: Tonight vs. Tulsa (7 p.m., ESPNU)

(71) Wake Forest (23-9/13-7 ACC/5-7 vs. Q1& Q2/2-4 vs. Q1 only/NET: 45/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. With Virginia Tech’s win last night, Steve Forbes’ club now has Quad 1 wins. However, of Wake’s top five wins, just two of those victories came over teams in the projected field—North Carolina and Notre Dame, both at home. Virginia Tech’s win over Notre Dame helped push the Hokies past the Deacs, and they can jump even further ahead with a win over UNC. That’s an opportunity Wake Forest foolishly let disappear.

No games left.

(72) VCU (21-8/14-4 Atlantic 10/6-7 vs. Q1& Q2/3-3 vs. Q1 only/NET: 51/KenPom: 62)

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. However, the Rams will need to defeat archrival Richmond for a third time to get there.

Next game: Today vs, Richmond (approx. 8:30 p.m., USA)

Next Four Out

(73) Dayton, (74) BYU, (75) Texas A&M, (76) Florida

Only the Flyers and Aggies can improve their standing on this Friday.

Also Considered

(77) Mississippi State, (78) Virginia, (79) UAB, (80) Colorado, (81) Saint Louis, (82) Oregon, (83) Belmont, (84) St. Bonaventure, (85) Iona

Of this group, Miss. State, UAB, Colorado, SLU, and St. Bona all can still get in. However, each will likely need their respective conference’s auto bid to do so. In the case of the Billikens and Bonnies, only one will be able to advance beyond their quarterfinal this afternoon (approx. 2:30 p.m., USA).