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NIT Bracketology: Expecting no love for mid-majors

UNC Greensboro is 17-0 against Quad 4. Here’s why that should matter.

UNC Greensboro v Gonzaga Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The college basketball selection process (for the NCAA Tournament or the NIT) has never been one that favors mid-majors. Part of the reason is that both committees basically ignore the fourth quadrant on the team sheets.

While the NCAA has moved to using the NET this season, the fourth quadrant still consists of all home games against teams ranked 161st or above, all neutral site games against teams ranked 201st or above, and all road games against teams ranked 240th or above.

Thus home games against more than half of NCAA Division I are basically ignored by the committee — except when you lose.

You know which teams play a lot of these games that get ignored? Mid-majors.

UNC Greensboro is 17-0 against Quadrant 4 opponents. That’s hard to do! Fellow bubble team Arizona State, for instance, is 6-2 against Quadrant 4.

It would be nice if a team’s entire resume were considered when assessing their viability for the NCAA Tournament. There are systems that take a team’s entire resume into account. For instance, Parcells or Wins Above Bubble. The only metric on a team sheet that comes remotely close is Strength of Record from ESPN.

The Spartans aren’t just 17-0 against Quadrant 4. They haven’t taken a loss to any team outside of Quadrant 1 all season. (And won’t tonight either, as Wofford is 14th in NET.) UNCG is 28-5 and deserves a chance to play in NCAA Tournament whether they beat Wofford or not on Monday night. The Spartans are 28th in Parcells and 30th in Strength of Record. But will a committee that relies mostly on backward metrics give them that chance? There certainly are no guarantees.

NCAA Tournament Bubble (In Order): St. John’s, Minnesota, Ohio St., Seton Hall, Indiana, Belmont, Creighton

NIT Bracket (bubble in italics, automatic bids in bold):

1. Arizona St.
8. South Dakota St.

4. Butler
5. Toledo

3. Xavier
6. BYU

2. Alabama
7. Colorado

1. Florida
8. Campbell

4. Oregon
5. Fresno St.

3. Davidson
6. East Tennessee St.

2. Lipscomb
7. San Francisco

1. Texas
8. Loyola IL

4. South Carolina
5. Memphis

3. Saint Mary’s
6. Wichita St.

2. Furman
7. Utah Valley

1. UNC Greensboro
8. Northeastern

4. Providence
5. Oregon St.

3. Dayton
6. Arkansas

2. Georgetown
7. Yale

A Note About Automatic Bids: This bracket represents the current state of affairs, but analytics suggest that at least nine more NIT bids will be taken by either bubble teams being pushed down into the tournament from bid stealers or the No. 1 seeds of 1-bid conferences falling in their tournament. Thus any team on the six seed line or lower is definitely not considered “safe.”

Next Bracket: Selection Sunday around noon. (Note: Because the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament officially become the No. 1 seeds in the NIT, I will also try to post a final bracket between the NCAA Selection Show and the NIT Selection Show if time allows.) You can also follow me on Twitter for more frequent updates.