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Bracket Bits: Kansas State’s tricky profile

Dave2015With a non-conference strength of schedule (SOS) ranked in the 330-range, Kansas State’s NCAA profile presents an interesting dichotomy for those of us in the bracket business.  On one hand, we have a KSU team with “Quadrant 1” wins over Oklahoma and TCU, a 4-2 road record that includes solid (Quadrant 2) wins at Baylor and Iowa State, and a team that has a one-point loss at Kansas and two-point loss to Arizona State on a neutral floor. The only real hiccup is a loss to Tulsa – which certainly isn’t a game-changer.

Several of the metric models mentioned as “under consideration” by the Selection Committee also trend in K-State’s favor.  Examples as of this morning (Jan. 23):

  • BPI (ESPN): 39
  • SOR (ESPN): 35 / Strength of Record
  • Ken Pom: 32
  • Sagarin: 33

The Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) has the Wildcats at 53 (55 in some models), which accounts more for that NC SOS issue.  And that’s the rub.  Seven (7) of KSU’s 15 Division I wins are against Quadrant 4, including six over teams ranked below 200 in the RPI, all at home.  If you remove those seven wins, K-State’s effective record is 8-5.  Collectively, against Quadrants 1 and 2, KSU’s record is 4-4.  That doesn’t mean road wins at Vanderbilt and Washington State are meaningless, nor a win over Oklahoma State.  The Committee will account for those, especially the two on the road.  Instead, as a whole, it simply helps explain why KSU is currently hovering around the cutline.

Conclusion: The Wildcats’ NCAA hopes are trending in the right direction.  On the court, they look and play like an NCAA team – as indicated by the metrics.  BUT … until proven otherwise, the Committee has routinely balked at bubble teams whose non-conference schedules contain a bevy of home-cooked cupcakes.  The best bet for Kansas State?  Stay away from the bubble in March.  Fortunately, the Big 12 presents enough quality win opportunities for the Wildcats to do just that.

Elsewhere on Monday …

  • Maryland’s at-large hopes took another hit with a loss at Indiana.  The metrics like the Terrapins, but their on-court resume indicates just one (1) win over a team in Quadrant 1 or 2 (Butler at home); they are a combined 1-7 against teams in those two groupings.
  • Baylor dropped to 2-8 against those two groups, and figures to slide on the next Seed List as a result.  The Bears are 11-8 on the season.  They need a winning streak to recover from a 2-6 start in Big 12 play.
  • TCU and Virginia Tech both earned much-needed wins at home. TCU topped West Virginia and Va. Tech clipped North Carolina.  It was a particularly big get for the Hokies, who have their own NC SOS issues (No. 307).
  • Ohio State improved to 9-0 in the Big Ten.  Impressive even in a down year.
  • Michigan State continues to turn the ball over at a high rate – they committed 25 in Monday’s win at Illinois.  As talented as the Spartans are, it’s hard to see a run to the Final Four unless they clean up their giveaway issues.

Enjoy your Tuesday of college hoops.

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