N.C. State continued to boost its chances of making the NCAA tournament with its 74-70 win over fellow bubble team Syracuse Wednesday night at the Carrier Dome.
The Wolfpack (17-9, 7-6 ACC) boosted its RPI and KenPom ratings, added another quadrant 1 win and handed the Orange a loss that makes its path to the NCAA tournament tougher.
Looking at the updated team sheets the NCAA tournament selection committee uses, here’s a quick look at what the win over Syracuse means and what the Wolfpack needs to do over its last five regular-season games to get into the tournament.
Computer rankings boost
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N.C. State’s RPI jumped from 70 to 60 after beating Syracuse, which entered the game at 37 in the RPI and left it at No. 50.
The Wolfpack not only beat a team significantly above it in the RPI, it did so on the road, getting it extra credit in the RPI formula.
In KenPom.com rankings, N.C. State is now No. 55, up from No. 59.
Quadrant 1 improvement
The most important wins, according to the NCAA tournament selection committee, are the wins in quadrant 1. Those wins include home games against RPI top 30 teams, neutral site games against the top 50 and road games against the top 75.
N.C. State currently is 5-7 against quadrant 1 teams. Not many teams competing with the Wolfpack for at-large tournament bids have more Q1 wins than the N.C. State.
No teams from 40-70 in the RPI have more Q1 wins than N.C. State. Only No. 43 Washington (5-3 vs Q1), No. 54 Florida (5-3) and No. 55 Texas (5-7) have as many of those wins as the Wolfpack.
All four of those teams are projected to make the field by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm.
Lunardi updated his bracket projection on Thursday morning. Even after the win at Syracuse, he still has N.C. State among his last four teams getting into the NCAA tournament. He projected the Wolfpack as a No. 11 seed playing in the First Four at Dayton.
Palm updated his bracket on Friday morning, listing N.C. State among his four last teams in the field, playing in Dayton as a No. 12 seed.
The next sign of the continued strengthening of N.C. State’s resume will be when the Wolfpack moves off that last four list and out of Dayton in the projections.
The Wolfpack has five games left in the regular season and three are against teams behind N.C. State in both the RPI and KenPom.com.
Sounds like an opportunity for some more wins, right?
▪ The stretch starts at Wake Forest (10-16, 3-11 ACC) on Saturday. The Demon Deacons are No. 124 in the RPI and No. 84 in KenPom.com.
▪ On Tuesday, the Wolfpack plays Boston College (16-10, 6-7) at home. The Eagles are 79 in the RPI and ranked 75 on KenPom.
▪ N.C. State plays Florida State at home on Feb. 25. The Seminoles (18-8, 7-7) are 37 in the RPI and ranked 23 on KenPom.
▪ The Wolfpack’s final two games are at Georgia Tech (11-15, 4-9) on March 1 and at home with Louisville (18-8, 8-5 ACC) on March 3. The Yellow Jackets have are 157 in the RPI and ranked 117 by KenPom. The Cardinals are 40 in the RPI and ranked 27 by KenPom.
KenPom projects N.C. State to go 3-2 over the next five games finish the regular season with a 10-8 ACC record. Unless those two losses are to Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, that should be enough to keep the Wolfpack safely in the field of 68.
However, Palm, during an appearance on Charlotte sports radio station WZGV-730 AM on Thursday, suggested N.C. State needs to have a .500 or better record when its quadrant 4 wins are removed. N.C. State has eight wins in quadrant 4, which are home games against teams 161 and higher, neutral site games against teams 201 and higher and road games 241 and higher.
So, removing those wins, N.C. State is 9-9.
“They’re a .500 team,” Palm said, “and if you get below that, you aren’t getting in.”
To meet that threshold, N.C. State needs to win at least three of its final five.
NC State at Wake Forest
When: 4 p.m., Saturday
Where: Joel Coliseum, Winston-Salem
TV: WRAZ, ACC Network Extra