RotoWire Bracketology: Version 2.0

RotoWire Bracketology: Version 2.0

This article is part of our RotoWire Bracketology series.

The NET is NCAA's metric, but in its first year of existence, St. John's made the tournament with a ranking of 73. While it's a good basis for bracketology and what the committee will do, it's not an exact science because there are real people sitting in a room talking about all of these teams.

With just over a week before Selection Sunday, there is plenty of regular-season action left, but you can at least dwindle down teams fighting on the bubble. I'm giving teams like Xavier (NET 43) and Indiana (NET 54) the benefit of the doubt and saying they are firmly in the field. Of course, they'll probably go on losing streaks and drop their first game in tournament play, but I'll take my chances. I'm also labeling USC (NET 39) as in with a 10-8 mark in Q1/Q2 games. That said, I'm projecting USC to beat UCLA on Saturday and I think that pushes them over the bubble.

There is a range of 10-15 teams who are battling for the final few spots in the NCAA tournament. While Xavier and Indiana are (fairly) safe, I'm not sure a team like N.C. State (NET 57) should be in the conversation with three Q3 losses standing out. Beating Duke is nice, but the Wolfpack will likely need to win at least two games in the ACC tournament if they want to go dancing.

Per usual, the metrics I'm using are NET, KenPom and Strength of Record. I believe the combination of KenPom and SOR is the best way to evaluate teams with one a predictive measure and the other showing how good a team has been according to its win-loss record.

THE EIGHT

Indiana (NET 54, KenPom 37, SOR 28): Again, I'm not too worried about the Hoosiers unless they blow their final two home games (which is possible). They don't have any bad losses and destroyed Florida State in non-conference play. I don't know why their NET is double Stanford's, but that's why there are multiple metrics.

Rutgers (NET 34, KenPom 32, SOR 41): I got some blow back on Twitter for having the Scarlet Knights a tad high in my bracket, but I'm also projecting them to beat Maryland on Tuesday. I think the only chance they miss the tournament is if they lose out, which would make it six-straight losses (Big Ten tourney included).

Stanford (NET 27, KenPom 35, SOR 59): I don't think Stanford are that good, but with a NET of 27, I doubt they'll miss the cut. That said, there is a world in which the Cardinal lose their final two regular-season games and then have a must-win in the Pac-12 tournament. If they lose their next three, they'll be on the outside looking in.

Providence (NET 44, KenPom 46, SOR 53): Providence is one of the trickier situations because like UCLA, they have some bad losses. The difference is that they are 11-8 in Q1/Q2 compared to UCLA's 9-9 mark. The Friars close with two home games and should be fine unless they blow one of those.

Wichita State (NET 45, KenPom 41, SOR 31): The Shockers are staying alive because of a solid non-conference slate, and they don't have any terrible losses. Then again, it's possible they lose their final two games and like a lot of these teams, are in a must-win situation come their conference tournament.

Cincinnati (NET 53, KenPom 44, SOR 57): The underlying numbers like Wichita State a tad more than Cincy, but the Bearcats swept their season series. I wouldn't be surprised if only one of these AAC teams made the tournament with my bet going to Cincinnati, who have an easier finish to the season.

Rhode Island (NET 51, KenPom 54, SOR 44): Unfortunately for Rhode Island, they need to beat Dayton on Wednesday. Otherwise, losses to Brown and Saint Louis will cost them in the end. A win Wednesday would give the Rams another Q1 win, which will come in handy against power-conference teams.

Utah State (NET 38, KenPom 42, SOR 48): It's always hard to rate smaller teams on the bubble, especially one like the Aggies who have great neutral-court wins against LSU and Florida, but also losses to New Mexico and Air Force. Their best chance to get in will be reaching the MWC Championship, meaning they have to take down Nevada again.

THE CUT

Mississippi State (NET 52, KenPom 49, SOR 49): I like the Bulldogs as a team, but their poor non-conference resume could hurt them on the bubble. If they lose at South Carolina on Tuesday, they'll likely need at least one win in the SEC tournament, if not two. Their overall numbers are fine, but you can't finish with two Q1 wins playing in the SEC.

Texas (NET 59, KenPom 53, SOR 39): The best thing going for the Longhorns is that they don't have any bad losses. That could come in handy, but they need to keep winning because a current 6-11 record in Q1/Q2 is one of the worst marks on the bubble. Plus, you can't lose to Georgetown on a neutral and get blown out at Iowa State if you want to go dancing.

UCLA (NET 76, KenPom 80, SOR 55): I'm surprised at how many people (at BracketMatrix) have the Bruins in their bracket. Yes, they're on a winning streak, but they have at least one more bad loss than any of the other bubble teams. It's important to note the committee takes into account the entire season and won't overlook a home loss against Cal State Fullerton. We'll see what happens in the Pac-12 tournament, though I'd be surprised if they made the field unless they win at USC and then win a couple more next week. Of note, while their resume is similar to St. John's from a season ago, UCLA has two worse losses.

Richmond (NET 48, KenPom 50, SOR 47): I love cheering for the Spiders, but outside of that Wisconsin win, they didn't really do enough in non-conference play. They'll need to win their next two games, as well as one or two in the A-10 tournament to rise above some of these other teams, especially with a 4-6 Q1/Q2 record.

N.C. State (NET 57, KenPom 55, SOR 54): It feels like the Wolfpack are in this situation more often than not and no one can agree on them because of high-level wins in the ACC. For me, they need to make a run in the ACC tournament to get in. They got swept by UNC and Georgia Tech, and also lost to fellow bubble team Memphis on a neutral court. If they win two ACC tourney games, I'll maybe change my mind.

*Metrics prior to games on Tuesday, March 3.

For a live-updated bracket throughout the week (team previews coming soon), check out our RotoWire Bracketology page. Here's the latest bracket this article was based on:

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Adam Zdroik
Adam, a 2019, 2018 and 2017 Finalist for FSWA Soccer Writer of the Year, is RotoWire's assistant soccer editor. He also runs RotoWire's Bracketology, as well as writes on other various college basketball content. He has previously worked at ESPN and Sporting Kansas City, and he is a former Streak for the Cash winner and Michigan State graduate.
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