Bubble Banter: Clemson is done, N.C. State stays alive

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Here is the latest NBC Sports bracket projection.

WINNERS

TCU (NET: 47, SOS: 34): The Horned Frogs were sitting as a No. 11 seed entering Tuesday, and it looked like they were going to cruise to an easy win against Oklahoma State. They then blew a 21 point second half lead and needed to rally down the stretch to win. At the end of the day, all that is going to matter is the win, which improves their record against Q1 and Q2 opponents to 9-12. TCU is probably safe regardless of what happens at this point, but they would be able to just about lock up their bid with a win over Kansas State in the quarterfinals on Thursday afternoon.

N.C. STATE (NET: 32, SOS: 216): The Wolf Pack are getting closer to the bubble, but for my money they are not there yet. They now have three Q1 wins — Auburn (17) at home and Clemson (36) and Penn State (49) on a neutral — but they have a pair of Q3 losses and a total of 10 wins against Q4 opponents, an embarrassing number for a power conference. That’s what happens when you play the 353rd-ranked schedule, good for DFL — Dead Freakin’ Last — in all of college basketball.

My advice? Beat Virginia and remove any doubt, because a loss might relegate the Wolfpack to the NIT.

ST. JOHN’S (NET: 66, SOS: 76): The Johnnies knocked off DePaul in the first round of the Big East tournament on Wednesday night, which actually matters because DePaul had swept St. John’s during the regular season. It’s also important because the Johnnies were one of the four teams in a play-in game in our most recent bracket projection, and adding another Q3 loss certainly would not have helped. More important, however, is the fact that this win pits St. John’s against a Marquette team that has lost four straight games heading into the Big East tournament and was swept by the Johnnies during the regular season.

LOSERS

CLEMSON (NET: 36, SOS: 33): The Tigers have to be out. They have good computer numbers, but the simple fact of the matter is that they are 1-10 in Q1 games. That’s few Q1 wins that Belmont and Lipscomb have, and those two teams had a fraction of the chances to land them.

And look, I get why Clemson’s metrics are good. They lost at home by two against North Carolina (7). They lost by one at Louisville (24). They lost two games to N.C. State (32) by two points and one point, respectively. They lost by two at home to Nebraska (51). They lost by one at Miami (94). That’s six losses by a total of nine points, and it doesn’t count a five point loss to Creighton (52), an eight point loss at Syracuse (42) or a nine point loss at Florida State (17).

Clemson should count as a quality win for those teams because being able to play this many good teams close mean’s you are a good team.

But winning also has to matter. The difference in a one point win and a one point loss when it comes to their impact on KenPom or the NET is marginal at best, but it should make all the difference in the world when it comes to accomplishment. Clemson losing close games to good teams should not be looked at as a positive, especially not when they lost all of them.