NC State

NC State’s status for NCAA tournament as strong as it’s been

This story has been updated with the latest computer rankings and bracket projections.

A month ago, after N.C. State dropped a home game 86-81 to Miami, the Wolfpack faced a schedule that included five of the next seven games on the road.

Impressive wins over Duke, Clemson and Arizona were already in N.C. State’s bag, but this stretch would determine which direction the rest of the season would go.

Saturday’s game at Wake Forest completed that stretch and N.C. State’s 90-84 win gave the Wolfpack a 5-2 record in those seven games.

N.C. State (18-9, 8-6 ACC) has propelled itself right through the bubble and into a strong postseason position.

As the Wolfpack prepares to play three of its final four regular-season games at home, here’s a look at where N.C. State stands with the NCAA selection committee:

Computer rankings

N.C. State’s RPI jumped from 60 to 57 after beating Wake Forest, which entered the game at 121 in the RPI and left it at No. 131. Following Sunday’s games, N.C. State fell back to No. 59.

In KenPom.com rankings, N.C. State is now No. 49, up from No. 55.

The Wolfpack collected another road win, making it four in league play this season. Road wins provide extra credit in the RPI formula. After losing its first three ACC road games (at Clemson, Notre Dame and Virginia), N.C. State went 4-1 in its last five road games by beating Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Syracuse and Wake Forest while losing at Virginia Tech.

Improvement in top quadrants

The win at Wake Forest falls into quadrant 2 on the NCAA selection committee’s team sheets. Quadrant 2 wins include home games against RPI 31-75 teams, neutral site games against teams 51-100 and road games against teams 76-135.

N.C. State is 2-1 against teams currently in Q2. That’s because the loss to Miami is now in that category because the Hurricanes’ RPI fell to No. 37 when they lost, 62-55, at home to Syracuse on Saturday.

N.C. State’s record in quadrant 1, its most important games, is now 5-6 with the Miami loss currently no longer there.

That makes N.C. State 7-7 in the top two quadrants. With its 3-2 mark against Q3, N.C. State now has a winning record in the top three categories – 10-9.

N.C. State’s other eight wins fall in quadrant 4. To the selection committee, Q4 wins are like empty calories, sugary food with little or no protein, vitamins or fiber. They offer no lasting value.

So it’s important for teams like N.C. State to have winning records when Q4 games are excluded. The Wolfpack is now in that position.

Bracketology

With four games to play before the ACC tournament, N.C. State is in its strongest position yet with NCAA tournament projectors.

No longer pegged to play in the First Four games in Dayton, the Wolfpack are looked upon as a team solidly in the field of 64.

Jerry Palm’s latest bracket projection on CBS Sports has N.C. State as a No. 10 seed in the East Region.

Joe Lunardi has the Wolfpack as a No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region.

Earlier in the week, both had N.C. State playing in the First Four in Dayton.

What’s next

The Wolfpack has four games left in the regular season and three are against teams behind N.C. State in both the RPI and KenPom.com.

On Tuesday, the Wolfpack plays Boston College (16-11, 6-8) at home. The Eagles are 94 in the RPI and ranked 80 on KenPom.

N.C. State plays Florida State at home on Feb. 25. The Seminoles (19-8, 8-7) are 45 in the RPI and ranked 28 on KenPom.

The Wolfpack’s final two games are at Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-10) on March 1 and at home with Louisville (18-9, 8-6 ACC) on March 3. The Yellow Jackets have are 165 in the RPI and ranked 124 by KenPom. The Cardinals are 51 in the RPI and ranked 36 by KenPom.

KenPom projects N.C. State wins in the final four regular-season games, which would give the Wolfpack a 12-6 ACC record.

Doing that would ensure N.C. State of a trip to the NCAA tournament regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center from March 6-10.

Steve Wiseman: 919-419-6671, @stevewisemanNC

Boston College at N.C. State

When: 7 p.m., Tuesday

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh

TV: Fox Sports South, ACC Network Extra

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer

  Comments