The NCAA Tournament picture sure looks a lot better for the Wolfpack than it did at this time yesterday.
Every projection I’ve seen this morning has N.C. State in the Tournament — barely. The consensus seems to be that, as things stand right now, the Pack would be one of the last four teams in and probably playing in the First Four in Dayton on Tuesday.
I’m almost scared to write this, but State feels like a Tournament team after winning against Virginia yesterday. While I recognize that RPI isn’t everything, the Pack now ranks 49th according to Live-RPI.com, three spots ahead of the team they just beat on a neutral floor and with a much better strength of schedule. The Cavaliers are projected as a solid 9 or 10 seed in the Big Dance. If they’re in, then surely State is, too, right?
Things have broken pretty well for State over the last few days, with other bubble teams falling left and right. I know there was some thought that the regular-season sweep over Miami would have looked even better if the Hurricanes hadn’t lost to Florida State last night. But I don’t think the slight boost to the Pack’s RPI was as valuable as watching a team in direct competition for an at-large spot lose.
Still, State’s fate at this point is very much in the hands of the Selection Committee. Despite 22 wins against a tough schedule, the Pack’s only victory against a current Top 50 RPI team* came in November against Texas (who ranks 48th).
Of course, a win against North Carolina today would make the rest of this post moot. And I’d like to think it would be Mark Gottfried’s way of continuing the recent tradition of first-year State coaches making dramatic runs to the ACC Tournament finals.