RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Texas and Indiana own records that don’t look much like those of NCAA Tournament teams at first glance.
Yet the Longhorns and Hoosiers are still chasing at-large bids thanks to a peculiar mix of multiple resume-boosting wins amid all those losses that have left both hovering near .500 overall.
It’s a year in which the bubble is filled with teams holding fragile resumes, helping keep Texas (16-14, 8-9 Big 12) and Indiana (16-14, 7-12 Big Ten) alive even amid some ugly stretches of the schedule.
Look no further than their Quadrant 1 wins for the reason. Those victories account for the top tier of wins on any resume designed to give greater weight to tougher opponents or winning away from home.
Shaka Smart’s Longhorns sit at No. 34 as of Friday in the new NET rankings, which is the more analytical formula replacing the RPI in the selection committee’s work to build this year’s field of 68 teams. Texas is 5-9 in Quadrant 1 games with four wins against current AP Top 25 teams: No. 3 North Carolina on a neutral court, No. 11 Purdue at home, No. 13 Kansas at home and No. 18 Kansas State on the road.
Then there is the Hoosiers’ wild ride since the start of 2019.
Indiana lost seven straight games in January, only to end that streak by beating current No. 9 Michigan State. Then came five straight losses, only to see the Hoosiers respond with a double-overtime win against No. 21 Wisconsin, another win against the Spartans to sweep the season series and Thursday’s win at Illinois.
Indiana also has wins against No. 16 Marquette and Louisville, giving the Hoosiers to six Quadrant 1 victories — two more than top-ranked Gonzaga — and a No. 50 NET ranking.
“We’re definitely playing better than we were,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said after the Illinois win. “Even in some of our losses here in the last couple of weeks, we’ve been playing better. Hard-fought games, we’ve been in a lot of them. But I feel like our team right now is in a position that we’ve earned some confidence back.”
Texas looks to be on the right side of the bubble according to BracketMatrix.com’s average of numerous tournament projections. The Longhorns appeared on 87 of 92 mock brackets as of Friday morning, checking in at a No. 10 seed.
The Hoosiers are listed among BracketMatrix.com’s first four teams out and appear on 22 mock brackets.
They’re both down to their final chances to improve their resumes. Texas hosts TCU on Saturday before playing in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. Indiana hosts Rutgers on Sunday before the Big Ten Tournament in Chicago.
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ON THE RISE
Clemson: The Tigers (18-12, 8-9 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 40 NET) are doing just enough to hang around by winning three of four entering Saturday’s finale against Syracuse — though they are just 1-9 against Quadrant 1 teams.
Oklahoma: The Sooners (19-11, 7-10 Big 12, No. 39 NET) have won four of five — including against Kansas — and can help themselves by winning Saturday at Kansas State.
UCF: The Knights (23-6, 13-4 American Athletic Conference, No. 26 NET) likely locked up a bid by going on the road to beat No. 12 Houston followed by Thursday’s home win against No. 20 Cincinnati.
Utah State: The Aggies (25-6, 15-3 Mountain West Conference, No. 30 NET) claimed at least a share of the league regular-season title with seven straight wins, including against No. 17 Nevada.
Alabama: The Crimson Tide (17-13, 8-9 Southeastern Conference, No. 57 NET) looked solid in early February, but have lost five of seven entering Saturday’s trip to Arkansas.
Florida: After entering March with five straight wins, the Gators (17-13, 9-8 SEC, No. 33 NET) suffered a Quadrant 3 loss at home to Georgia last weekend then couldn’t get a resume-helping win against No. 10 LSU on Wednesday.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack (20-10, 8-9 ACC, No. 35 NET) had a bad stumble with Wednesday’s home loss to Georgia Tech. That gave N.C. State as many Quadrant 3 losses (two) as Quadrant 1 wins after playing one of the nation’s softest nonconference schedules.
St. John’s: The Red Storm (20-10, 8-9 Big East, No. 62 NET) have five Quadrant 1 wins, but they’ve lost three of four and have three Quadrant 3 losses.
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