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Bracketology 2022: (High) Quality Wins or Metrics?

Which will the Selection Committee value the most this season? We’ll find out tonight, but I’m leaning toward the former.

The Cut Line picture for the projected Men’s NCAA Tournament bracket of the morning of Selection Sunday, March 13, 2022.
Graphic by Chris Dobbertean. Logos from SportsLogos.net.

Acknowledgements: NET rankings and records are accurate as of Sunday, March 13, 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.

Sunday Morning’s Full Bracket

Your Selection Sunday Viewing Guide

College Basketball Coast to Coast

Check out T.J. Rives and Tyler Jones as they recap Saturday and look ahead to Sunday’s matchups. I’ll be back for Selection Sunday night reaction show!

The Cut Line

Last Four Byes

(41) Iowa State, (42) Indiana, (43) Miami, (44) Wyoming

Virginia Tech took matters into its own hands on Saturday night, taking out Duke, 82-67, to claim the ACC Tournament championship and the automatic bid that comes with it. The first team in the next group can do the same this afternoon in Tampa.

Last Four IN

(45) Texas A&M (22-11/9-9 SEC/9-9 vs. Q1& Q2/4-9 vs. Q1 only/NET: 42/KenPom: 51)

Had the Aggies not followed a 4-0 start to SEC play by losing nine of 10, they wouldn’t need to win today’s SEC Tournament title to qualify. Few teams in the country are playing as well as Buzz Williams’ squad right now, as they recorded their first three high-quality Quad 1A wins (those against the top 30 at home, top 50 on a neutral floor, and top 75 on the road) in the past nine days: at Alabama on March 2nd and over Auburn and Arkansas in their second and third games in Tampa. 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 considering how Saturday’s win shifted the Aggies’ selection sheet in comparison to those of the other teams in this list, they may very well be in no matter what happens this afternoon (as long as Tennessee doesn’t blow their doors off).

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

(46) 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 major grief, though it won’t make the wait between now and 6 p.m. Eastern any easier. Five Quad 1 wins, with four now counting as Q1A victories and two sub-100 losses (at home against Minnesota on December 11th and at UCF on December 30th) should be enough—particularly since two of the Q1A victories 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.

(47) SMU (23-8/13-4 American/6-6 vs. Q1& Q2/2-2 vs. Q1 only/NET: 44/KenPom: 52)

The Mustangs have been playing a game of in and out all week. They remain in for now, even if they couldn’t defeat Memphis for a third time in Saturday’s American Athletic Conference semifinals in Fort Worth. 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 the regular season sweep of the Tigers. 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—to Missouri and Loyola Marymount. Still, Tim Jankovich’s team has won eight of its last 12, if the Committee wants to consider how a bubble squad finished in its deliberations.

No games left.

(48) Rutgers (18-13/12-8 Big Ten/9-10 vs. Q1& Q2/6-6 vs. Q1 only/NET: 77/KenPom: 75)

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 Q1A 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).

Given the Committee’s emphasis on quality wins during February’s sneak peek—handing Tennessee a 3 seed in February with a 5-6 record in Quad 1 games, but with three Q1A wins at the time, while leaving a Houston team ranked third in the NET, but without a single Q1 win of any kind, out of the Top 16 entirely—makes me think that the Scarlet Knights will sneak in because of their high-quality wins.

No games left.

First Four OUT

(69) Oklahoma (18-15/7-11 Big 12/10-14 vs. Q1& Q2/4-12 vs. Q1 only/NET: 40/KenPom: 30)

On the other hand, if the Committee wants to show that it values metrics, all while respecting quality wins, the Sooners might find themselves selected instead of Rutgers. Thursday’s Big 12 quarterfinal win over likely No. 1 seed Baylor was Oklahoma’s third Q1A win, albeit against eight losses. If Porter Moser’s team ends up in the NIT, there may be some regret over Friday’s one-point loss to Texas Tech in the semifinals. However, if you’re going to include Michigan and consider Xavier, you have to keep Oklahoma’s similar résumé. The Sooners have fewer Q2 and Q3 losses (3) than both Michigan (4) and Xavier (5). Plus, the predictive metrics the Committee favors all love Oklahoma, with the Sooners ranking in the Top 35 in each. Results-based metrics, however, favor Michigan over both OU and Xavier.

No games left.

(70) 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. Plus, unlike both Michigan and Oklahoma, who have otherwise similar profiles, the Musketeers went 0-5 in Q1A games. Making matters worse, Xavier’s Big East Tournament loss was its second Q3 loss of the season, along with an inexplicable four-point home loss to DePaul.

No games left.

(71) Notre Dame (21-10/15-5 ACC/4-9 vs. Q1& Q2/2-8 vs. Q1 only/NET: 53/KenPom: 54)

The Fighting Irish would have locked up a bid with a win over Virginia Tech in Thursday’s ACC quarterfinals. Instead, the Hokies have now left Mike Brey’s team in the dust and 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. Plus, Texas A&M’s win over Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational in Vegas hurts even more now.

It’s going to be a long, anxious wait until 6 p.m. in South Bend

No games left.

(72) Wake Forest (23-9/13-7 ACC/5-7 vs. Q1& Q2/1-4 vs. Q1 only/NET: 48/KenPom: 35)

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 that knocked the Tar Heels out of the NET Top 30, Steve Forbes’ club now has just a single Quad 1 win, a victory over the Hokies in Blacksburg that oddly enough now counts as a Q1A win. A home victory over UNC, now 32nd, doesn’t qualify.

No games left.

Next Five Out

(73) North Texas, (74) VCU, (75) Dayton, (76) BYU

Sure, one of these four teams could be a surprise pick, but I think multiple NIT home games are more likely for each.