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Bracketology 2023: A Closer Look At The Cut Line’s Neighborhood

Good luck trying to figure these teams out. Of these eight teams, only Utah State and Vanderbilt can save themselves from an anxious wait until Sunday at 6 Eastern.

Graphic by Chris Dobbertean using logos from

Today’s full bracket post (text-only version)

All records only reflect games played against Division I opposition through Friday, March 10, 2023. All team data from‘s team sheets. All graphics created by me, using logos from

Last Four Byes: Providence, Illinois, USC, Mississippi State

Last Four IN

Utah State Aggies

Record against DI opposition: 25-7 (13-5 Mountain West)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 11-5
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 2-4 (both against Boise State)
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 2 Q4 (Weber State (H) and SMU (N))
Road/Neutral Record: 12-5
NET: 18
KenPom: 18

The Aggies’ at-large case basically boils down to two questions: How far can one team get without a lack of marquee non-conference wins in a good year for its conference? And, does the Committee really just treat the NET as a sorting tool? In my mind and mine only, if the NET has any meaning, its 18th ranked team needs to be in the field no matter what happens this afternoon in Las Vegas. But, that’s the beauty of this week, isn’t it? If Ryan Odom’s club—playing its basketball of the season—wins today, all of this becomes merely wasted pixels on a screen.

Next game: San Diego State in the Mountain West final (6 p.m., CBS)

Arizona State Sun Devils

Record against DI opposition: 22-12 (11-9 Pac-12)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 9-11
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 5-6 (2-4 vs. Quad 1A, wins over Arizona (A) and Creighton (N))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 1 Q4 (Texas Southern (A))
Road/Neutral Record: 12-7
NET: 66
KenPom: 66

The Sun Devils were unable to win their season rubber match with Arizona on Friday night, which was bad enough. Making matters worse, a lack of competitiveness on the evening cost them six spots in the NET. Curiously, Arizona State has among the worst losses of any bubble team—a 67-66 setback at Texas Southern—a result only made possible by the Pac-12’s praiseworthy attempt to boost the basketball programs of the SWAC while playing a few road games other power conferences would never agree to. It would truly be something if a defeat in the series ended up costing a Pac-12 team an at-large bid.

Clemson Tigers

Record against DI opposition: 23-10 (14-6 ACC)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 7-6
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 4-4 (0-2 vs. Quad 1A, best wins over Duke (H), NC State (3x, 2 Q1), Pittsburgh (A, Q1) Penn State (H, Q2))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 2 Q3 (Boston College (A), South Carolina (A)) and 2 Q4 (Loyola Chicago (N) and Louisville (A))
Road/Neutral Record: 8-9
NET: 57
KenPom: 63

The Tigers are yet another team that looked absolutely terrible in the contest following a potential at-large-clinching victory, as they lost by a 76-58 count to Virginia in the ACC semifinals. While Clemson has wins over Duke and Penn State and three victories over bubble rival NC State, the Committee may decide the four hideous losses, including a 10-point loss Louisville team that’s the worst power conference team of the millennium, are enough of a reason to pass.

Vanderbilt Commodores

Record against DI opposition: 20-13 (11-7 SEC)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 10-10
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 5-9 (2-5 vs. Q1A, wins over Tennessee (H) and Kentucky (A))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 2 Q3 ((Southern Miss (H) and LSU (A) and 1 Q4 (Grambling State (H))
Road/Neutral Record: 8-8
NET: 79
KenPom: 79

If the Committee still used finishing record as a metric, the Commodores would be in at this point based upon going 9-1 in its last 10 games, with the loss coming at LSU, the team Vandy handled in Thursday’s SEC second round. In that span, Jerry Stackhouse’s club has defeated Tennessee, Auburn, and Mississippi State at Memorial Gym and Kentucky both at Rupp Arena and Rupp South (Bridgestone Arena). The ‘Dores’ lack of non-conference success may keep them out should they fail to win the auto bid (or at least defeat Texas A&M to reach Sunday’s SEC final). Their best non-conference win came at home against fellow bubble team Pitt, and there are two bad losses in that record. Much like one of Utah State’s two bad losses, however, the NET rankings of those particular opponents would undoubtedly be higher in a more flexible system.

Next game: Texas A&M in the second SEC semifinal (approx. 3:30 p.m., ESPN)

First Four OUT

Nevada Wolf Pack

Record against DI opposition: 21-10 (12-6 Mountain West)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 8-8
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 1-4 (San Diego State (H))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 2 Q3 (UNLV (H) and Wyoming (A))
Road/Neutral Record: 8-9
NET: 37
KenPom: 42

The Wolf Pack picked the worst time to play their worst basketball of the season—closing with a three-game skid that saw them lose by nine to a depleted Wyoming club in Laramie, then drop two in a row in OT, to UNLV at home and San José State in the Mountain West quarterfinals. One wonders what Nevada’s prospects would be had it defeated Kansas State in the Cayman Islands Classic semifinals. Now, Steve Alford’s team most notable non-conference wins came over Sam Houston State at home and Tulane in the Caymans’ quarterfinals. Of their four Quad 1 wins, only a 77-76 victory over a fading New Mexico came away from Reno.

Oregon Ducks

Record against DI opposition: 19-14 (12-8 Pac-12)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 9-13
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 2-9 (1-6 vs. Quad 1A, win over Arizona (H))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 1 Q3 (UC Irvine (H))
Road/Neutral Record: 6-9
NET: 47
KenPom: 40

While the metrics still like Oregon after Friday night’s 75-56 semifinal loss to UCLA, that result was symptomatic of the Ducks’ struggles away from Eugene, particularly against top-tier competition. Other than that win over the Wildcats, the Ducks’ best results are wins over fellow bubble squads Arizona State, Nevada, and USC—with Dana Altman’s club only defeating the Sun Devils away from Matthew Knight Arena.

NC State Wolfpack

Record against DI opposition: 23-10 (12-8 ACC)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 8-10
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 1-6 (0-4 vs. Quad 1A, best win over Duke (H))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: None
Road/Neutral Record: 8-8
NET: 45
KenPom: 56

Back on February 19th, State had just defeated neighbors North Carolina 77-69 at PNC Arena with two further home games to come before an early regular-season finale at Duke. At this point, some doofus with a keyboard anointed the Wolfpack as a lock. And while they handled their business against Wake in the middle contest of the homestand, the wheels came completely off the bus against Clemson—resulting in a 96-71 defeat. Kevin Keatts’ squad couldn’t manage to win in Durham, and while it hammered Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament’s second round, the Tigers were waiting in the quarters, where they administered another thrashing—80-54. The Wolfpack would have been much better served had they managed to beat Brad Brownell’s team at least once.

Other than the home win over Duke, NC State’s best victories came against Miami and North Carolina at home and Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. The ‘Pack’s best non-league wins were over Dayton and fellow bubble team Vanderbilt. Really, the only thing State has going for it at this point is a perfect 15-0 record against Quads 2 and 3. That may not be enough when comparing the Wolfpack’s profile to others on this list.

Pittsburgh Panthers

Record against DI opposition: 22-11 (14-6 ACC)
Record vs. Quads 1 and 2: 7-9
Record vs. Quad 1 Alone: 4-4 (0-3 vs. Quad 1A, best wins over Virginia (H), Northwestern (A), NC State (A), North Carolina (H and A), Miami (H))
Quad 3 or 4 Losses: 1 Q3 (Notre Dame (A)) and 1 Q4 (Florida State (A))
Road/Neutral Record: 8-8
NET: 67
KenPom: 77

It’s not just you. All of these teams’ profiles look similar and kind of run together at this point. For the Panthers, their season turning point may have come one week ago in Coral Gables, where Miami edged them 78-76 to claim the No. 1 seed in the ACC Tournament. That loss combined with the day’s other results dropped Pitt to the 5 seed, meaning it wouldn’t get a bye to the quarterfinals. Jeff Capel’s team rebounded to defeat Georgia Tech in the second round, 89-81, but got absolutely trashed in the quarters against Duke, 96-69, yet another instance of a bubble team picking up a key late win only to get blown out the next day. While Pitt has decent road wins, including one in non-conference against Northwestern, dropping two games in the Legends Classic in Brooklyn to Michigan and VCU were missed opportunities.

Ultimately, all of the ACC’s bubble teams may want to point their fingers at the conference office’s direction if they’re snubbed on Sunday. This is particularly true for Pitt and Clemson, who had to play eight games against the bottom five, with each losing two. NC State at least manage to win all six such games it played. And that’s the same number of games against the bottom third perceived preseason contenders such as Duke, UNC, and Virginia Tech had on their schedules.

Next Four Out: Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Sam Houston State