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Bracketology 2022: Major Changes Around the Cut Line Heading Into Selection Saturday

Indiana and Virginia Tech now safe? Oklahoma still in? Rutgers out? What about Texas A&M and Dayton?

The Cut Line picture for the projected Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket of the morning of March 12, 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.

Saturday Morning’s Full Bracket

Your Saturday Viewing Guide (Including Bubble Games)

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.

The Cut Line

Last Four Byes

(41) Iowa State, (42) Indiana, (43) Virginia Tech, (44) Wyoming

The Hokies are now in the NET Top 30, which means there’s a decent chance they are safe win or lose against Duke tonight (8:30 p.m., ESPN), based on recent history—and a small sample size, so there is no guarantee. It’s a similar story for the Hoosiers, who meet Iowa in the first Big Ten semifinal (1 p.m., CBS). As for the Cowboys, they didn’t have enough to get past Boise State in the Mountain West semifinals, so they’ll hope they aren’t passed.

Last Four IN

(45) Michigan (17-14/11-9 Big Ten/8-13 vs. Q1& Q2/5-10 vs. Q1 only/NET: 34/KenPom: 33)

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 four now 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—particularly since 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 (18-15/7-11 Big 12/10-14 vs. Q1& Q2/4-12 vs. Q1 only/NET: 39/KenPom: 33)

Margins are so narrow on this year’s bubble that a win over a potential No. 1 seed, Baylor, could vault a team like the Sooners from Thursday morning’s ‘Next Four Out’ to a First Four berth. Friday’s one point loss to Texas Tech could have knocked Porter Moser’s team out. However, after comparing Oklahoma’s résumé to those of both Michigan and Xavier, surprise, guess who’s still here?! While OU’s 4-12 record against Q1 teams is poor, the Sooners’ win on Thursday night is their third ‘high-quality’ victory. The others came against Arkansas, by 22 in Tulsa in December, and Texas Tech, by 15 on February 9th. Oklahoma also has fewer Q2 and Q3 losses (3) than both Michigan (4) and Xavier (5).

No games left.

(47) Xavier (18-13/8-11 Big East/9-11 vs. Q1& Q2/5-8 vs. Q1 only/NET: 40/KenPom: 60)

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 eight 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. Unlike both Michigan and Oklahoma, Xavier has no high-quality Q1 wins.

No games left.

(48) SMU (23-7/13-4 American/6-5 vs. Q1& Q2/2-1 vs. Q1 only/NET: 42/KenPom: 52)

The Mustangs jumped into the field on Thursday and fell out after Indiana and Oklahoma’s wins that night. Now, they’re back after handling Tulsa in their American quarterfinal game on Friday night. The best things SMU’s résumé has going for it are a home victory over Houston, a potentially crucial non-conference home win over Dayton, and a pair of wins over Memphis—who the Ponies play again this afternoon. But SMU also has 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: Missouri and Loyola Marymount. Still, Tim Jankovich’s team has won eight of its last 11, if the Committee wants to consider how a bubble squad finished in its deliberations.

Next game: Today vs. Memphis (approx. 5:30 p.m., ESPN2)

First Four OUT

(69) Texas A&M (21-11/9-9 SEC/8-9 vs. Q1& Q2/3-9 vs. Q1 only/NET: 51/KenPom: 56)

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 about them. 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 Friday’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 over the Hogs tomorrow in the SEC semis should make the Aggies’ selection a fait accompli.

Next game: Today vs. Arkansas (1 p.m., ESPN)

(70) Notre Dame (21-10/15-5 ACC/4-9 vs. Q1& Q2/2-7 vs. Q1 only/NET: 52/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 h beenave 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.

(71) Wake Forest (23-9/13-7 ACC/5-7 vs. Q1& Q2/1-4 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 semifinal win over North Carolina last night, Steve Forbes’ club now has just a single Quad 1 win. Of Wake’s top five wins, just two came against 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 jumped even further ahead with Friday’s victory. That was an opportunity Wake Forest foolishly let disappear.

No games left.

(72) Rutgers (18-13/12-8 Big Ten/9-10 vs. Q1& Q2/6-6 vs. Q1 only/NET: 78/KenPom: 74)

The Scarlet Knights’ profile will be a test of what the Committee really truly valued in 2022. Is it quality wins? If so, Rutgers should be in easily, thanks to six Quad 1 wins, including five high-quality victories. Or, is it metrics? If this is the case, Steve Pikiell’s team’s early struggles and some poorly timed blowouts led to predictive metrics that are well out of at-large range and result-based metrics that are borderline (if I’m being kind).

No games left.

Next Five Out

(73) Dayton, (74) BYU, (75) Florida, (76) Saint Louis, (77) VCU

Of these five teams, only the Flyers and Billikens have games left. Saint Louis meets Atlantic 10 top seed Davidson in the first Atlantic 10 semifinal (1 p.m., CBSSN) after eliminating St. Bonaventure yesterday. Dayton plays Richmond, not VCU, in the game that follows at 3:30. The Flyers are in a similar position to Rutgers. A confusing profile marked by better metrics, fewer good wins, and even worse losses. A game against the Rams would have been more helpful, but if Anthony Grant’s team can defeat the Spiders, they will control their own fate on Sunday afternoon.