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Bracketology: The Zion Williamson factor for Duke

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The pertinent question this morning is the health of Zion Williamson.  Foremost, because he’s an exceptional talent and life is bigger than basketball.

The secondary component is how his injury impacts Duke – both on the court and, subsequently, the Blue Devils’ standing on the Seed List.

If last night were the eve of Selection Sunday, the Committee would be forced to make a tough decision: evaluating Duke while Zion’s future availability is unknown.

Since a decision related to today’s bracket had to be made quickly in the wee hours of the morning with little information, Duke stays put, largely because the Blue Devils own a season sweep of Virginia, and two of its losses occurred with less than a full roster.

Once we know more about Zion’s status, further review will ensue.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 21, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Temple vs. Alabama
MIDWEST REGION UCF vs. Utah State
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. CANISIUS
WEST REGION NORFOLK ST vs. PRAIRIE VIEW

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                   
Columbia Columbus
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
16) ST. FRANCIS / CANISIUS 16) LEHIGH
8) Ole Miss 8) Auburn
9) Ohio State 9) WOFFORD
Jacksonville Salt Lake City
5) Iowa State 5) Maryland
12) BELMONT 12) Temple / Alabama
4) LSU 4) Texas Tech
13) OLD DOMINION 13) LIBERTY
Hartford Hartford
6) Louisville 6) Villanova
11) Florida 11) VCU
3) MARQUETTE 3) Purdue
14) YALE 14) TEXAS STATE
Des Moines Columbus
7) BUFFALO 7) Cincinnati
10) Texas 10) TCU
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Columbia
1) GONZAGA 1) TENNESSEE
16) PR VIEW / NORFOLK ST 16) SAM HOUSTON ST
8) Baylor 8) St. John’s
9) Minnesota 9) Syracuse
San Jose San Jose
5) Florida State 5) KANSAS STATE
12) NEW MEXICO ST 12) UCF / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Wisconsin
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Seton Hall 11) Arizona State
3) Kansas 3) HOUSTON
14) UC-IRVINE 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Des Moines Jacksonville
7) WASHINGTON 7) Mississippi State
10) NC State 10) Oklahoma
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) MONTANA 15) RADFORD

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
TCU Temple Clemson Nebraska
Seton Hall UCF Georgetown UNC-Greensboro
Arizona State Utah State Butler Lipscomb
Florida Alabama Furman Dayton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia, Tennessee, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida State, Louisville, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, TCU

SEC (8): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Florida, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, Temple, UCF

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Liberty (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Lehigh (PAT), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Virginia marches South as Tennessee drops; Kentucky a 2-seed

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With a coveted spot atop the South Region in play, Virginia benefited from Tennessee’s loss at Kentucky on Saturday night.  By a narrow margin, UVA moved to No. 2 on the Seed List, dropping Tennessee to No. 3 overall.  As a result, the Cavaliers march South as the No. 1 seed in the Louisville region, bumping the Volunteers to the Midwest.

Kentucky stays put as the top two-seed, which leaves an interesting question: Would the Committee place UK in the South Region opposite Virginia knowing the potential advantage it could give the Wildcats in an Elite Eight matchup in Louisville?

That type of scenario has worked out differently over the years.  The other option, given bracketing guidelines, would be for the Committee to slot Kentucky in the West Region, opposite Gonzaga, pairing No. 4 and No. 5 on the seed list together.  For now, UK stays South.  Let’s see how things shake out the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, the ragged cutline continues to ebb and flow.  Wait a couple of days; it’s likely to change.

UPDATED: February 18, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
EAST REGION Utah State vs. UCF
MIDWEST REGION Butler vs. Temple
EAST REGION ST. FRANCIS (PA) vs. CANISIUS
MIDWEST REGION NORFOLK ST vs. PRAIRIE VIEW

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                      
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) Virginia
16) ST. FRANCIS / CANISIUS 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Auburn
9) Seton Hall 9) Minnesota
San Jose Salt Lake City
5) Wisconsin 5) Texas Tech
12) Utah State / UCF 12) LIPSCOMB
4) Iowa State 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Maryland
11) VCU 11) Arizona State
3) Marquette 3) HOUSTON
14) YALE 14) UC-IRVINE
Des Moines Columbus
7) Mississippi State 7) St. John’s
10) TCU 10) NC State
2) Michigan 2) Kentucky
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Jacksonville
1) GONZAGA 1) TENNESSEE
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) NORFOLK ST / PR VIEW
8) WOFFORD 8) WASHINGTON
9) Baylor 9) Syracuse
San Jose Hartford
5) Louisville 5) KANSAS STATE
12) BELMONT 12) Butler / Temple
4) NEVADA 4) Purdue
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) HOFSTRA
Hartford Tulsa
6) Florida State 6) Iowa
11) Oklahoma 11) Alabama
3) LSU 3) Kansas
14) TEXAS STATE 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Columbus Jacksonville
7) Cincinnati 7) Ole Miss
10) Texas 10) Ohio State
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) North Carolina
15) MONTANA 15) NORTHERN KENTUCKY

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Texas Temple Clemson Davidson
Alabama UCF Florida Fresno State
Oklahoma Butler Furman Georgetown
Arizona State Utah State Nebraska UNC-Greensboro

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Virginia, Tennessee, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (8): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio State

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (1): WOFFORD

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), St. Francis (PA) (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Happy Valentine’s Day for Duke, LSU

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Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we’ll sweep the epic crumbles of futility – otherwise known as this year’s bubble – under the proverbial rug and try not to look.

Instead, we’ll send Happy Heart greetings to the Duke Blue Devils and LSU Tigers, both of whom celebrated huge road wins in the Commonwealth on Tuesday.  For their efforts, Duke remains the No. 1 overall seed in today’s bracket.  LSU rises to No. 12 on the seed list, good for the final No. 3 seed.

As for those crumbles, today’s cutline decisions included serious consideration for teams like Oklahoma, Indiana, Butler, and Florida, all of whom have significant resume issues. There are no clear answers, especially with regards to how the Selection Committee will use the NCAA’s new NET ratings.  The good news for those four, and others, is we still have games to play.

BRACKET UPDATE: February 14, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
WEST REGION Clemson vs. Arizona State
MIDWEST REGION UNC Greensboro vs. Utah State
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Quinnipiac
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC   SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) QUINNIPIAC / NORFOLK ST 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Baylor
9) Alabama 9) Syracuse
San Jose Salt Lake City
5) Wisconsin 5) KANSAS STATE
12) LIPSCOMB 12) BELMONT
4) Iowa State 4) VILLANOVA
13) VERMONT 13) OLD DOMINION
Des Moines Tulsa
6) Florida State 6) Maryland
11) UCF 11) Texas
3) Marquette 3) HOUSTON
14) YALE 14) UC-IRVINE
Hartford Jacksonville
7) Mississippi State 7) Ohio State
10) NC State 10) Seton Hall
2) Michigan 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
WEST – Anaheim MIDWEST – Kansas City
Salt Lake City Hartford
1) GONZAGA 1) Virginia
16) SAM HOUSTON 16) ROB MORRIS / PR VIEW
8) St. John’s 8) WASHINGTON
9) Auburn 9) TCU
San Jose Des Moines
5) Louisville 5) Texas Tech
12) Clemson / Arizona State 12) NC-Greensboro / Utah State
4) NEVADA 4) Purdue
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) HOFSTRA
Jacksonville Tulsa
6) Virginia Tech 6) Iowa
11) Temple 11) VCU
3) LSU 3) Kansas
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST
Columbus Columbus
7) Ole Miss 7) Cincinnati
10) WOFFORD 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN STATE 2) Kentucky
15) MONTANA 15) TEXAS STATE

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Clemson Oklahoma Arkansas
Texas Arizona State Indiana Georgetown
UCF UNC-Greensboro Butler Fresno State
Temple Utah State Florida Davidson

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN STATE, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (7): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Auburn, Alabama

Big East (4): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Mountain West (2): NEVADA, Utah State

Southern (2): WOFFORD, UNC-Greensboro

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Quinnipiac (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Yale (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Bracketology: Committee pens Duke, Tennessee as 1-2 punch

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Few of us were surprised on Saturday when the Selection Committee announced that Duke and Tennessee were Nos. 1 and 1A on their Seed List.  After an action-filled weekend, neither position has changed, although one could argue that Duke’s win at Virginia, giving the Blue Devils a regular-season sweep, might create a more distinct line of separation between those two.

The only top-line move this morning was lifting Gonzaga to No. 3 on the Seed List and dropping Virginia to No. 4.  Gonzaga still reigns over the West Region and Virginia the Midwest.  Elsewhere, team positions on the first four lines mirror what the Committee gave us on Saturday.  One could argue whether or not Iowa State would stay after a home loss to TCU, or about how losses by Louisville and Wisconsin might also impact those lines.  For today, we’ll let the Committee’s voice be heard.

Unfortunately, the Committee didn’t provide us any sort of insight into what has become a very mediocre bubble picture.  Then again, why take on that headache right now? Hopefully, some cleaner lines of separation will develop over the next three weeks.

UPDATED: February 11, 2019

FIRST FOUR – DAYTON
SOUTH REGION Butler vs. UCF
WEST REGION Oklahoma / Temple
EAST REGION Norfolk State vs. Canisius
MIDWEST REGION Robert Morris vs. Prairie View

EAST Washington, DC      SOUTH – Louisville                       
Columbia Columbia
1) DUKE 1) TENNESSEE
16) NORFOLK ST / CANISIUS 16) BUCKNELL
8) BUFFALO 8) Syracuse
9) Alabama 9) Baylor
San Jose San Jose
5) LSU 5) Texas Tech
12) BELMONT 12) Butler / UCF
4) Iowa State 4) NEVADA
13) HOFSTRA 13) VERMONT
Des Moines Hartford
6) Virginia Tech 6) Florida State
11) VCU 11) Seton Hall
3) Marquette 3) Purdue
14) NORTHERN KENTUCKY 14) YALE
Columbus Jacksonville
7) Cincinnati 7) Mississippi State
10) Texas 10) Minnesota
2) MICHIGAN 2) North Carolina
15) LOYOLA-CHICAGO 15) RADFORD
MIDWEST – Kansas City WEST – Anaheim
Hartford Salt Lake City
1) Virginia 1) GONZAGA
16) PR VIEW / ROB MORRIS 16) SAM HOUSTON
8) St. John’s 8) Auburn
9) Ole Miss 9) TCU
Salt Lake City Columbus
5) KANSAS STATE 5) VILLANOVA
12) LIPSCOMB 12) Oklahoma / Temple
4) Wisconsin 4) Louisville
13) NEW MEXICO ST 13) OLD DOMINION
Tulsa Tulsa
6) Maryland 6) Iowa
11) Arizona State 11) Clemson
3) HOUSTON 3) Kansas
14) SOUTH DAKOTA ST 14) UC-IRVINE
Jacksonville Des Moines
7) Ohio State 7) WASHINGTON
10) NC State 10) WOFFORD
2) Kentucky 2) Michigan State
15) MONTANA 15) MONTANA

BUBBLE NOTES
Last 4 Byes Last 4 IN      First 4 OUT Next 4 OUT
Minnesota Butler Georgetown Providence
Arizona State UCF NC-Greensboro Utah State
Seton Hall Oklahoma Arkansas Florida
Clemson Temple Indiana Creighton

TOP SEED LINE: Duke is the No. 1 overall seed, followed by Tennessee, Virginia, and Gonzaga

Breakdown by Conference …

ACC (9): DUKE, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisville, Florida State, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, NC State, Clemson

Big 10 (8): MICHIGAN, Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin, Iowa, Maryland, Ohio State, Minnesota

BIG 12 (8): KANSAS STATE, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU, Texas, Oklahoma

SEC (7): TENNESSEE, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss, Alabama

Big East (5): VILLANOVA, Marquette, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Butler

American (4): HOUSTON, Cincinnati, UCF, Temple

Pac 12 (2): WASHINGTON, Arizona State

Atlantic 10 (1): VCU

Mid American (1): BUFFALO

Mountain West (1): NEVADA

West Coast (1): GONZAGA

ONE BID LEAGUES: Loyola-Chicago (MVC), Canisius (MAAC), Old Dominion (C-USA), Texas State (SBELT), Princeton (IVY), Montana (BSKY), Northern Kentucky (HORIZON), Sam Houston (SLND), Wofford (STHN), UC-Irvine (BWEST), Lipscomb (ASUN), Belmont (OVC), Hofstra (CAA), Radford (BSO), Norfolk State (MEAC), South Dakota State (SUM), New Mexico State (WAC), Vermont (AEAST), Bucknell (PAT), Robert Morris (NEC), Prairie View (SWAC)

Thursday’s Things To Know: AAC stays tied, Lagerald Vick steps aside and Pac-12 troubles magnify

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There weren’t many surprising results from the top-25 teams in action across the country on Thursday night, but there was significant news from both Kansas and Gonzaga (Killian Tillie can’t catch a break) while the AAC gets a dream matchup Sunday and the Pac-12 continues to be a nightmare. Here’s what you need to know”:

HOUSTON AND CINCINNATI BOTH WIN ROAD TESTS

It could have been an interesting night in the American. No. 12 Houston and No. 25 Cincinnati, both sporting matching one-loss conference records, were on the road against potentially tricky opponents in UCF and Memphis, respectively. It would have been easy to envision one losing, adding some tension into the league race or having them both taking Ls, injecting chaos into a league that’s been pretty orderly.

Both, though, won and continued to separate themselves from the rest of the conference and setup a monster showdown Sunday.

The Cougars had no trouble with the Knights, claiming a 77-68 victory, while the Bearcats held off the Tigers, 69-64.

Corey Davis, Jr.  had a big game for Houston, going for 26 points, five assists and three rebounds It was Jarron Cumberland unsurprisingly starring for Cincy with 17 points, six assists and six rebounds in a game the Bearcats had to really compete down the stretch to finally finish off.

Now, let’s talk about this weekend.

The first matchup between the two AAC frontrunners comes Sunday, with the Bearcats visiting Houston in what should be one of the marquee games of the weekend and the first of two bouts between these two teams.

It’ll be an interesting matchup with neither team sporting elite offenses, but strong defenses and deliberates paces. Cincy’s best bet will likely be to try to turn defense into offense as it has been solid in creating turnovers while that’s one of the areas the Houston offense hasn’t excelled. The way for most teams to attack Mick Cronin’s defense is at the 3-point line, but that’s not the strength of the Cougars, who instead rely on their offensive rebounding and the fact they don’t really have to score that much with how good their defense has been.

KANSAS LOSES A STARTER

It was just last week I used this space to muse about the vulnerability of Kansas’ Big 12 title streak. Sure, things looked less than great for the Jayhawks, but we’d seen that plenty over the course of the last 14 years only to then see Bill Self’s team ultimately on top of the conference standings.

But now it feels like bad is getting increasingly worse for the Jayhawks.

The school announced Thursday that starting guard Lagerald Vick will be taking a leave of absence from the team to deal with personal issues while his mother told the Kansas City Star he was needed back home in Memphis “for a couple weeks.”

Vick has been wildly inconsistent this season – and his playing time has been lately as well – but he’s a player that the Jayhawks are going to sorely miss for however long his absence runs. The margin of error for Kansas was already shrinking with a 6-4 league record and Iowa State, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Baylor all looking like threats, and now losing a player like Vick, even with his flaws, only tightens that window. Dedric Lawson is now likely to see even more aggressive double teams with Kansas’ best 3-point threat off the floor and no clear player capable of replacing his 45.5 percent shooting from deep. It’s more than just losing a starter for Kansas, it’s losing a player that was providing a skill that Kansas has in short supply and allows its best player – Lawson – to be better.

Maybe Self figures this out or maybe Vick’s time away is short, but with the cascading bad news for Kansas, it feels like things are more likely to get worse than better.

THE PAC-12 IS REALLY TRYING TO BE A ONE-BID LEAGUE

Yes, it’s easy to pile on the Pac-12 for being awful this season. Sure, it’s probably been covered plenty this year that the league is down, even by its recent pedestrian standards.

But, I mean, c’mon. The conference just never seems to help itself.

Washington stayed perfect by beating Arizona in Tucson while Arizona State took a HORRIBLE loss at home to Washington State.

The Wildcats have now lost four-straight and five of their last six while Arizona State loss 91-70 to a Cougars team that was 8-14 overall and 1-8 in the Pac-12 in its home gym. I repeat, the Sun Devils lost by 21 POINTS to a team that previously had only managed to WIN A SINGLE GAME IN A HISTORICALLY TERRIBLE CONFERENCE. Bobby Hurley’s squad ain’t lookin’ so good right now.

Neither is the Pac-12, which continues to flirt with being a one-bid league.

Be sure to read Bubble Banter to get the in-depth look at what Thursday night meant, not only to the Pac-12, but the rest of the country trying to position itself heading into the regular season’s final month.

Bubble Banter: A rant about Wofford and paying attention to what the NET is telling us

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February is here!

And now that we are nearly halfway through conference play, it is time for us to get fully invested in the “who’s-in-who’s-out” discussion. Bubble Banter has never been more important!

Some quick housekeeping before we dive into it:

  • This page will be updated throughout the night. 
  • We’ll update them best that we can, but the NET rankings will be accurate through Thursday morning. 
  • If you see something we missed, if you have an issue with a team we left out or if you want to congratulate us on a job well done, drop a comment below or hit us up here: @RobDauster.
  • This morning, our Dave Ommen released an updated bracket. It is the only bracket you need to be up to date on. 

Onto Thursday’s action.

As of this very moment, Wofford is a top 30 team in the NET rankings, and that is before they play a road game at East Tennessee State (65) on Thursday night, a mid-major battle between two of the SoCon’s best that could play a major role in whether or not the Terriers get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

The issue with Wofford this year, the reason why they are not ever going to be viewed as a lock for the NCAA tournament, is because of the lack of high-end wins on their resume. They only have one Q1 win, they haven’t beaten any teams ranked in the top 50 in the NET and they are just 4-4 in Q1 and Q2 games. Even with a Q1 win over ETSU on Thursday, they will only have two Q1 wins to their name, and both of them came on the road against league opponents. They have beaten South Carolina on the road, but the Gamecocks are not currently a top 100 team.

Put another way, Wofford does not have a marquee win.

This brings me to a point that I think we haven’t discussed enough, but one that has to be considered in a year like this when evaluating the dregs of the bigger leagues vs. the powerhouse mid-majors.

When the Selection Committee is evaluating programs that don’t get a dozen chances at Q1 wins, they should feel an obligation to put more stock into where those teams are slotted in the NET, especially if they are ranked as high as Wofford (29) — or Buffalo (23), or Lipscomb (31), or Utah State (33) — is ranked. Those mid-major programs are not going to get anywhere near the same number of chances to pick off the big boys that teams in power conferences will. Their resume is not going to look anything like the resume of, say, Oklahoma, or Indiana, or N.C. State. High-majors are going to get chance after chance after chance to land Q1 and Q2 wins, and it is because of their conference affiliation.

Wofford won’t.

Which is why the selection committee has to heavily weigh the NET. I know that metric was meant as a sorting tool, but the point of that sorting is so that we can accurately determine just how good a win is, no? So if Wofford is considered a better win than Kansas State, Baylor, N.C. State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Texas, St. John’s, TCU (should I go on), then doesn’t that mean we should consider them a better team?

If that’s not what the NET is saying, then please, enlighten me.

As long as there is a committee of human beings in a room picking out who is the best team based on the quantity of quality wins on a resume, mid-major teams are never going to get a fair shake. That is the entire point of having metrics that are built efficiency-based and scheduled-adjusted. It is the great equalizer. It allows us to compare what Wofford is doing in the SoCon to what Florida is doing in the SEC in ways that our puny human brains can’t comprehend.

The NCAA invested all this money in coming up with a metric to determine, as accurately as possible, who the best teams in college basketball are.

They should probably pay attention to it when it’s telling them these mid-major teams are really damn good.

WINNERS

WOFFORD (NET: 29, SOS: 128): The Terriers kept their at-large hopes alive by knocking off ETSU on the road. That is now two Q1 wins, with their only losses coming to high-major tournament teams.

OHIO STATE (NET: 35, SOS: 42): The Buckeyes tried to give this one away. In the final minute, Penn State’s go-ahead basket with 33 seconds left was waived off for coming after the shot clock and the game-tying layup with 19 seconds left rolled off of the rim. The Buckeyes are in good shape right now. They have three Q1 wins — all of which came on the road — and while they had a bit of a losing streak to start Big Ten play, their worst loss is at Rutgers (124), which is just a Q2 loss.

LOSERS

ARIZONA STATE (NET: 61, SOS: 63): You have got to be kidding me. Not only did Arizona State lose the game they couldn’t afford to lose, they got run out of their own gym. By Washington State. Who ranks 230th in the NET, a Q4 loss as bad as any that you’ll see for a team on the bubble to couple with Q3 home losses to Utah (91) and Princeton (159). We had Arizona State as a No. 9 seed entering the day, and I’d probably still have them in without being in a play-in game now, but this is the kind of loss that can drop them multiple seed lines, it’s that bad.

Take it away Khaled:

INDIANA (NET: 44, SOS: 41): After snapping their seven-game losing streak by going into East Lansing and picking off Michigan State, the Hoosiers followed that up by … taking a loss at home to Iowa in a game they never led in the final 30 minutes. The Hoosiers continue to have a resume that makes no sense. They have already played 11 Q1 games, and while they’ve lost eight of them, the Hoosiers also have a trio of wins that can match anyone — at Michigan State (9), Louisville (15), Marquette (21). They are 5-10 in Q1 and Q2 games and their worst loss — at Rutgers (124) — is just a Q2 loss.

The truth is that Indiana’s tournament future is going to be determined by whether or not they can fully turn this thing around. They actually played better against Iowa, but they missed some shots on critical second half possessions that stalled their comeback. We’ll see where this leads, but I do think that Indiana is still pretty comfortably in the tournament as of today.

ARIZONA (NET: 64, SOS: 66): After losing at home to Washington on Thursday, Arizona has now lost four in a four and five of their last six. They have just one win against a top 70 team — Iowa State (13) in Maui — and sit here today with a 4-9 record against Q1 and Q2 opponents. The biggest issue is that this was the last time that the Wildcats play a top 60 team, and their only two remaining Q1 games are road games against the Oregon schools, who are currently sitting outside the top 70.

UCF (NET: 42, SOS: 119): The Knights missed out on another chance to land a Q1 win, dropping a home game to Houston (7) in a game that wasn’t as close as the 77-68 final. It’s simple for UCF: they have the resume of a mid-major team. They are 0-2 against Q1 opponents, they are 3-4 in Q1 and Q2 games and their best win is Alabama (45) at home. Oh, and should I mention the Q4 home loss to FAU (166)?

SAN FRANCISCO (NET: 50, SOS: 138): It was probably a stretch keeping the Dons in bubble contention entering today, but after a loss at Gonzaga on Thursday night — their third straight loss — USF now officially needs to win the automatic bid to dance.