NCAA Tournament projections: Pac-12 looks like a 3-bid league



Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

Welcome to a new feature on the Hotline, where we attempt to forecast Selection Sunday outcomes with a format comparable to our weekly bowl projections.

Only the basketball process is a tad more complicated: NCAA Tournament bids and seeds are based on far more than wins and losses.

The process leans heavily on analytics — specifically, the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings.

Every team in Division I has a NET ranking. The result of each game played falls within one of four quadrants, based on the NET ranking of the opponent and location of the game.

(The categorization changes over time as teams move up and down the NET.)

Quadrant 1: Home vs. Nos. 1-30, Neutral vs. Nos. 1-50, Away vs. Nos. 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75, Neutral 51-100, Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160, Neutral 101-200, Away 135-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-353, Neutral 201-353, Away 241-353

For example: UCLA's victory at home over No. 9 Villanova counts as a Quadrant I win for the Bruins.

Essentially, teams want to load up on Quad I wins and avoid Quad III and IV losses.

The NCAA Tournament selection committee takes other factors into account when picking the at-large teams and seeding the field. But the NET rankings are integral to the process.

Teams listed in order of current NET rankings.

Arizona

NET ranking: 1

Record vs Quad I: 3-0

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 6-0

NCAA projection: No. 3 seed

Comment: If the Wildcats beat No. 6 Tennessee on the road next week, it's probably time to include them in the (early) discussion for a No. 1 seed.

USC

NET ranking: 15

Record vs Quad I: 1-0

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 7-0

NCAA projection: No. 5 seed

Comment: Considering the soft schedule to date, USC's push for a quality seed could benefit from victories over Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech in the next week.

UCLA

NET ranking: 22

Record vs Quad I: 2-1

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 6-0

NCAA projection: No. 2 seed

Comment: The Bruins were unable to play Alabama State on Wednesday because of COVID, and their availability for the showdown against North Carolina this weekend in Las Vegas is uncertain.

Washington State

NET ranking: 59

Record vs Quad I: 0-1

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 7-2

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: The suboptimal home loss to New Mexico State resulted in a drop of 16 spots in the Cougars' NET ranking. They are quickly slipping to the outskirts of the NCAA bubble.

Utah

NET ranking: 67

Record vs Quad I: 0-2

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 7-0

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: We suspect the Utes will hover in the 60s and 70s of the NET rankings for the duration of the season, with limited opportunities to climb but plenty of potholes to avoid.

Oregon

NET ranking: 103

Record vs Quad I: 0-3

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 5-2

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: One metric that's keeping the Ducks afloat: Their nonconference strength of schedule, which is No. 82 (top quartile) nationally in the Pomeroy efficiency ratings.

Colorado

NET ranking: 115

Record vs Quad I: 0-2

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 7-1

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: The resume would look much stronger — and potentially bubble-worthy — if not for that loss to Southern Illinois.

Cal

NET ranking: 137

Record vs Quad I: 0-2

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 5-2

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: The better the bottom of the conference fares in the NET, the better for the top of the conference — and that goes double for the middle, where the greatest fragility lies.

Stanford

NET ranking: 141

Record vs Quad I: 0-1

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 5-0

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: Who figured a buzzer-beating home win over Oregon would only qualify as a Quad III victory for the Cardinal.

Arizona State

NET ranking: 151

Record vs Quad I: 0-2

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 3-2

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: The Sun Devils collected their first Quad I victory of the season on Tuesday at Creighton. Not to be overlooked: Their nonconference schedule is No. 32 nationally in the Pomeroy ratings.

Washington

NET ranking: 229

Record vs Quad I: 0-1

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 4-3

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: Key question: How far behind the competition is UW after missing three weeks of practice and games due to a COVID outbreak (within a fully vaccinated team)?

Oregon State

NET ranking: 277

Record vs Quad I: 0-3

Record vs. Quad III and IV: 1-6

NCAA projection: no bid

Comment: An awful start to the season got worse on Tuesday when the Beavers lost at home to UC Davis, which recently lost to Academy of Art, a Division II school. There isn't a quadrant low enough to house that result from Corvallis.


Jon Wilner's Pac-12 Hotline is brought to KSL.com through a partnership with the Bay Area News Group.


Jon Wilner has been covering college sports for decades and is an AP Top 25 football and basketball voter as well as a Heisman Trophy voter. He was named Beat Writer of the Year in 2013 by the Football Writers Association of America for his coverage of the Pac-12, won first place for feature writing in 2016 in the Associated Press Sports Editors writing contest and is a five-time APSE honoree. You can follow him on Twitter @WilnerHotline or send an email at jwilner@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Pac-12 Hotline: Subscribe to the Pac-12 Hotline Newsletter. Pac-12 Hotline is not endorsed or sponsored by the Pac-12 Conference, and the views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the views of the Conference.

Jon Wilner

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