This is an unprecedented time in college basketball and the tournament committee will need to make some defining decisions regarding at-large worthy factors. We break down four teams who are in the bubble conversation looking at a five-year window of similar teams.
Gregg Marshall's Shockers find themselves on the bubble again.
St. Mary’s 27-6
Conference Rank: 10
Strength Of Schedule: 95
KenPom Overall Rating: 25
At-Large Caliber Wins: Creighton
The Gaels enter ‘Selection Sunday’ with the same record as Drexel last season as well as Oral Roberts, both who were sent to the NIT. Both of those teams played in conferences outside the top 10 and had an RPI outside the top 50 and a strength of schedule over 150. St. Mary’s has a better standing that either one.
In 2011, St Mary’s at 25-8, was left out of the dance with an RPI of 54 and SOS of 86. That same year, both Wichita State (24-8 with a KenPom Rating of 26, an RPI of 35 and a SOS of 83) as well as Missouri State (25-8 with an RPI of 39 and a SOS of 101) were sent to the NIT.
In 2009, St Mary’s at 26-6 with an RPI of 44 and a SOS of 88 was not selected as an at-large team into the NCAA Tournament.
Of course the Gonzaga factor - how the tournament committee will view Gonzaga - overall will have a huge impact on St Mary’s, a three-time victim to the Bulldogs.
The Prediction: AT-LARGE BID
Wichita State 26-8
Conference Rank: 9
Strength Of Schedule: 69
KenPom Overall Rating: 35
At-Large Caliber Wins: VCU, Creighton, Iowa
Last season at 27-6, the Shockers received an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. Historically, the Missouri Valley Conference has not been treated kindly by the Tournament Committee with a four year stretch of leaving out the second place team in the conference. The Shockers were left at the alter both in 2011 at 24-8 and in 2010 at 25-9. In 2009, it was Creighton at 26-7 with an RPI of 48 and a SOS of 109 and in 2008 it was Illinois State at 24-9 with an RPI at 39 and a SOS of 81.
The Prediction: WORTHY- BUT SNUBBED
Middle Tennessee State 28-5
Conference Rank: 19
Strength Of Schedule: 158
KenPom Overall Rating: 31
At-Large Caliber Wins: Ole Miss
Sitting at home donning a black-eye with a surprising loss to young Richard Pitino and the FIU Panthers, the Blue Raiders are the most interesting of the bubble teams. Last season, Arkansas State knocked Middle Tennessee out of the Sunbelt Conference Tournament and consequently consideration for the NCAA’s. That team won 27 games and even though the Sunbelt was rated higher than the MAAC, Iona received an at-large bid and Middle Tennessee did not. The Raiders RPI last season was 59, Iona was 50.
In the past decade, twice, a team with 28 wins was left on the sidelines of the Big Dance. There might be good news for Middle Tennessee fans as in the past five years, the highest RPI snubbed from the Tourney has been No. 35. What does this mean for head coach Kermit Davis’s club?
The Prediction: AT LARGE BID
Boise State 21-10
Conference Rank: 3
Strength Of Schedule: 19
KenPom Overall Rating: 49
At-Large Caliber Wins: Creighton, UNLV, Colorado State, San Diego State
The Broncos are the fifth best team in what is arguably the third best conference in the nation. Does this bode well?
Only twice in the past decade has the fifth place team in a conference equally rated with this year’s Mountain West been left out of the NCAA Tournament. In 2006, Florida State (who lost in the first round of the ACC Tournament) and in 2003 a 16-15 Georgia Tech team (who finished third in the ACC). In 2005, Texas sat in a similar position and received an at-large bid after being knocked out of the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
It all comes down to what type of respect will the Mountain West Conference receive from the Tournament committee. The only home loss they have is to New Mexico in overtime and if the Pac-12 has five or six in the tournament conversation, Boise State should be right there in the eyes of the committee.
The prediction: WORTHY- BUT SNUBBED
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports.com’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein
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