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The NCAA tournament bracket is out and it’s official: The ACC will have three No. 1 seeds and seven teams in the mix overall. Not in that group is NC State, which had plenty to say about the perceived snub.
NC State athletic director Debbie Yow released a statement shortly after the tournament draw was announced criticizing the NCAA tournament committee for its disregard for its new NET metric, as well as other Wolfpack-friendly rankings.
NC State really thinks it should have made the NCAA tournament
Yow included plenty of numbers, as well as a spelling error, into a four-paragraph statement.
— Fred Demarest (@Fred_Demarest) March 17, 2019
That argument seems mighty convincing for NC State’s inclusion into the tournament. NC State ranked 33rd in the NET rankings, well in range of the team’s that usually make the tournament. In reality, the Wolfpack didn’t even make the first four out.
The very simple reason NC State didn’t make the NCAA tournament
Of course, Yow doesn’t mention certain other numbers, like, say, the metric that shows how NC State’s scheduling put it in this situation. Per the NET ranking team sheets, the numbers that Yow said she wishes were considered more, NC State had the 353rd-ranked non-conference strength of schedule. There are 353 teams in Division I.
Facing the easiest non-conference slate in the country, NC State went 12-1 with wins over Auburn and Penn State and a loss to Wisconsin. It played nine non-conference games against teams outside of the NET’s top 200.
NC State would eventually finish with a 22-11 overall record and the 178th-ranked overall schedule because it went through the ACC gauntlet, where it placed eighth.
There might be a fair counter-argument that NC State didn’t go out of its way to schedule cupcakes, it merely scheduled teams hoping they’d be competitive that turned out to be walkovers. Sure.
However, intent or not from the Wolfpack, allowing them into the tournament would have been a signal to ever program that boosting your NET by scheduling soft is a viable path to the tournament. And even if they actually did schedule the nation’s softest non-con schedule by accident, the best way to remedy that would have been to post quality wins in conference play. They did not do that, though Yow sure tried to make it sound like they did.
In her statement, Yow cites the Wolfpack’s 8-9 record in games against quadrant 1 and 2 teams in the NET rankings. That is a comically skewed way to imply NC State was competitive with college basketball’s top teams.
Put it this way: NC State was 5-0 against Q2 teams. Against Q1 teams, NC State was 3-9. Against top 30 teams, it was 1-9, with one loss featuring the Wolfpack scoring 24 points. Taking care of business against lower opponents and avoiding bad losses is certainly a point in the Wolfpack’s favor, but they didn’t really accomplish the flip-side of that: quality wins.
NC State’s sole top-30 win was over Auburn, one of two tournament teams that NC State beat, the other being Syracuse. The two teams are a No. 5 seed and a No. 8 seed, respectively.
So NC State played as few games against quality opponents as possible, finished in the middle of the pack in their conference and beat all of two teams the committee considered March-worthy along the way. And they’re wondering why they’re now a 2-seed in the NIT?
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