NC State’s NCAA tournament chances get brighter and brighter

NC State's Keatts on the importance of the victory over FSU

VIDEO: NC State coach Kevin Keatts talks about how the victory over FSU helps the Wolfpack get separation from other teams in the ACC standings.
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VIDEO: NC State coach Kevin Keatts talks about how the victory over FSU helps the Wolfpack get separation from other teams in the ACC standings.
By
RALEIGH

While N.C. State’s latest win just missed getting the Wolfpack into the Associated Press top 25 for the first time since 2013, the 92-72 win over No. 25 Florida State did further strengthen N.C. State’s NCAA tournament hopes.

From computer rankings to quadrant records to bracket projections, N.C. State looks and feels like a team destined to play in the NCAA tournament this season.

N.C. State (20-9, 10-6 ACC) still hasn’t been voted into the top 25 since 2013. It was among others receiving votes in Monday’s poll, finishing four spots out of the top 25.

But top-25 rankings have no impact on the NCAA tournament selection committee, which instead looks at various computer rankings and breaks down each team’s wins and losses into four quadrants based on where a game is played and what the opponent’s RPI is.

N.C. State is already assured of not playing on the first day of the ACC tournament next week in Brooklyn, N.Y. The win over the Seminoles means N.C. State can’t finish among the league’s bottom six teams, all of whom will play in the three first-round games next Tuesday.

The Wolfpack is tied for fourth place with Clemson. With wins in its last two games, to finish with a 12-6 record, N.C. State would finish in the top four and earn a double-bye into Thursday’s tournament quarterfinals.

Anything else could mean a Wednesday second-round ACC tournament game at Barclays Center.

But enough about the ACC tournament. The main goal is to make the NCAA tournament. Here’s how N.C. State stands less than two weeks until the bracket is unveiled on March 11.

Computer rankings

N.C. State’s RPI jumped into the top 50, improving from 57 to 47 after beating Florida State on Sunday. Florida State’s RPI dropped from 45 to 48.

In KenPom.com rankings, N.C. State is now No. 40.

The quadrants

Florida State is a quadrant 2 win on the NCAA selection committee’s team sheets for N.C. State. Quadrant 2 wins include home games against RPI teams 31 to 75, neutral site games against teams 51-100 and away games against teams 76-125.

N.C. State is 2-1 against teams currently in Q2. Note this: The 81-76 loss to UNC Greensboro on Dec. 16, which has fluctuated between Q2 and Q3 is back in Q3. UNCG clinched the Southern Conference regular-season title on Saturday but its RPI has fallen to No. 81.

N.C. State's Torin Dorn (2) shoots as Florida State's Trent Forrest (3) defends during the first half of N.C. State's game against Florida State at PNC Arena on Feb. 25, 2018.
Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

Quadrant 3 wins include home games against RPI teams 76 to 160, neutral site games against teams 101-200 and away games against teams 136-240.

N.C. State’s record in quadrant 1, its most important games, is now 5-6. Quadrant 1 wins include home games against RPI teams in the top 30, neutral site games against teams in the top 50 and away games against teams in the top 75.

That makes N.C. State 7-7 in the top two quadrants. With its 5-2 mark against Q3, N.C. State now is has a winning record in the top three categories – 12-9.

Bracketology

With two games to play before the ACC tournament, N.C. State remains in strong position to make the NCAA tournament.

Bracketmatrix.com tracks where teams stand on a large number of bracket projections. As of 9:10 a.m. Monday, the site was tracking 83 projections. Only 31 teams are listed in all 83 brackets.

N.C. State is included on 82 brackets (98.7 percent inclusion) with an average seed of 9.34. That’s notable because, of the N.C. State’s last six NCAA tournament appearances going back to 2005, the Wolfpack has only been a single-digit seed twice.

It also shows how far N.C. State has come this season, from not expected to make the tournament to a First Four team at best projected as a single-digit seed.

What’s next

The Wolfpack closes the regular season at Georgia Tech on Thursday night at 8 p.m. and at home with Louisville Saturday at 6 p.m.

Neither looks like it will help N.C. State in Q1.

The best chance is Louisville (19-10, 9-7 ACC). The Cardinals are at 39 in the RPI. It’s a long shot but if Louisville beats first-place Virginia on Thursday, its RPI could jump into the top 30 to make an N.C. State home win over the Cardinals a Q1 win.

Otherwise, it will be Q2.

The Georgia Tech game won’t help N.C. State much but could hurt with a loss. The Yellow Jackets (11-18, 4-12 ACC) are at No. 162 in the RPI, so this will be a Q3 game for NC State.

The Wolfpack already has two Q3 losses at this point – UNCG and Northern Iowa. It doesn’t need a third.