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Bracketology 2022: Friday Afternoon’s Action Tightened the Bubble Significantly

Davidson did what it needed to to solidify an at-large. Indiana might have done the same. And then Texas A&M shook up both the bubble picture and the race for the final No. 1 seed.

The NCAA Men’s Tournament Cut Line picture as of the afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from

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 Team logos are from Chris Creamer’s

All times are Eastern.

Friday Morning’s Full Bracket


40 teams – 3 secured auto bids – 9 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 | (6) Kentucky | (7) Duke (ACC) | (8) Wisconsin (Big Ten)
(9) Purdue | (10) Villanova | (11) Tennessee (SEC) | (12) Texas Tech
(13) UCLA | (14) Providence (Big East) | (15) Illinois | (16) Arkansas
(17) Saint Mary’s | (18) UConn | (19) Houston (AAC) | (20) Iowa
(21) Texas | (22) USC | (23) LSU | (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) | (40) Davidson (A10)

The Cut Line

Key Results

  • Indiana edged top-seeded Illinois, 65-63, in the Big Ten Tournament’s first quarterfinal to take another huge step toward an at-large. The Hoosiers are no longer in the Dayton-bound First Four group.
  • Rutgers, however, dropped its quarterfinal to Iowa, 84-74. While I still have the Scarlet Knights avoiding Dayton, that’s very much subject to change. If enough things go wrong and enough teams pass them, I can even see Steve Pikiell’s squad being left out entirely due to poor metrics.
  • Texas A&M held off a late Auburn rally, 67-65, to put itself in tomorrow’s SEC Tournament semifinals—and possibly a win away from an NCAA bid.
  • Davidson had no trouble with Fordham in the Atlantic 10’s first quarterfinal. The Wildcats prevailed 74-56, reducing their level of bubble worry for the weekend.
  • Finally, in the lowest-scoring game of the entire Division I men’s season, Louisiana Tech knocked defending Conference USA Tournament champ North Texas into the NIT, 42-36. The Mean Green had a shaky at-large case until they managed to drop two of their last three.

Bubble Talk on College Basketball Coast to Coast

In Friday’s episode of College Basketball Coast to Coast TJ Rives and I covered a lot of bubble ground in an eight-minute segment.

Last Four Byes

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

Last Four IN

(45) Michigan (17-14/11-9 Big Ten/8-13 vs. Q1& Q2/5-10 vs. Q1 only/NET: 34/KenPom: 34)

Had the Wolverines not managed to stop the bleeding late against Indiana on Thursday afternoon, 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. That looks even more likely a fate for Michigan now that Indiana has advanced to the Big Ten semifinals.

No games left.

(46) Oklahoma (18-14/7-11 Big Ten/10-13 vs. Q1& Q2/4-11 vs. Q1 only/NET: 38/KenPom: 33)

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)

(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: 53)

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: 57)

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) Texas A&M (21-11/9-9 SEC/8-9 vs. Q1& Q2/3-9 vs. Q1 only/NET: 55/KenPom: 53)

Had the Aggies not followed a 4-0 start to SEC play, which included an 86-81 home win over an Arkansas team that was still finding its footing, by losing nine of 10, I wouldn’t have needed to write this. Few teams in the country are playing as well as Buzz Williams’ squad right now, as they recorded their first two high-quality Quad 1 wins in the past nine days: at Alabama on March 2nd and over Auburn in today’s SEC quarterfinals. A win over Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational in Las Vegas helps too. A&M has a pair of Quad 3 losses—to South Carolina at home and at Missouri (the bane of Texas-based bubble teams in 2022), but recording yet another high-quality win tomorrow in the SEC semis should make the Aggies’ selection a fait accompli.

Next game: Saturday vs. Arkansas or LSU (1 p.m., ESPN)

(72) 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.

Next Four Out

(73) VCU, (74), Dayton, (75) BYU, (76) Florida

Waiting on that potential Rams-Flyers A 10 semifinal Saturday afternoon!

Also Considered

(77) North Texas, (78) Mississippi State, (79) Virginia, (80) UAB, (81) Colorado, (82) Saint Louis, (83) Oregon, (84) Belmont, (85) St. Bonaventure, (86) Iona

Of this group, Miss. State, UAB, Colorado, and Saint Louis all can still play their way in, though the Blazers are in the midst of an epic triple OT C-USA semifinal with Middle Tennessee as I publish this. The Billikens knocked St. Bonaventure out with a 57-56 win in the second Atlantic 10 quarterfinal to set up a Saturday semifinal with top-seeded Davidson.

However, each remaining team that’s alive on this list will need their respective conference’s auto bid to get in.