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NCAA Tournament Resume Comparison: Ranking These Five Bubble Teams

Brian: OK, Jeff. We're in the final two weeks of college basketball's regular season. Time to assess where a few bubble teams stand. Let's take a look at these five NCAA Tournament team resumes.

Team A Team B Team C Team D Team E
Wins 18 17 16 18 17
RPI 65 75 45 61 41
Road 4-5 2-4 2-6 1-5 3-6
Road/Neutral 8-6 3-7 5-7 2-7 8-9
T50 0-5 1-3 1-5 2-4 4-7
T100 8-5 4-6 7-9 6-6 10-9
200+ 8-0 6-0 3-0 8-0 2-1
Conference Wins 8 6 6 6 7
SOS 121 69 16 77 20


Who's in? Who's out? And best guess at who's who?

Jeff: I think that Team E has the best resume. They have the highest RPI and the most wins against top 50 teams. Team E does have one really bad loss but I can overlook that because of what they've accomplished otherwise.

Team A has the worst resume. They have the weakest strength of schedule and it appears they have a bunch of losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100.

Team C would be the second team I would put in the tournament from this group. They have the fewest wins but strength of schedule makes up for that. They didn't pile up wins against teams outside the RPI Top 200 as some teams did. Team C has the second best RPI of the group by a healthy margin also which helps.

As for Team D, I could go either way on as in or out of the NCAA Tournament. Team B would be out of the tournament in my opinion. RPI of 75 just will not get you an at large bid.

Brian: Care to wager a guess as to who these teams are?

Jeff: Team C is Boston College and I'm not sure about the rest.

Brian: Team C is indeed our own Eagles. It's not easy to disguise our resume given how familiar we are with our own team's resume and NCAA Tournament hopes.

Here is how you ranked these five teams:

In: Team E is 17-11 Illinois, Team C is 16-10 Boston College
Bubble: Team D is 18-8 Nebraska
Out: Team B is 17-9 Baylor, Team A is 18-8 Virginia Tech

You chose to ignore Illinois' 57-54 loss to Illinois-Chicago (RPI of 290) and instead focus on their strong RPI and wins over top 50 teams. Despite having the fewest wins of the group, BC's SOS and RPI numbers are still strong of bubble teams, so I think that's a big reason why the Eagles are still on the right side of the bubble.

I agree with your assessment of Nebraska. I would put them on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble at the moment. Despite recently knocking off Texas, Nebraska's SOS and RPI numbers aren't that great, and the road/neutral (2-7) and 200+ (8-0) records aren't anything to write home about.

Baylor is probably out at this point, or barely in as one of the teams participating in the First Four. I thought your analysis of Virginia Tech's resume was the most interesting. It seems like every year Virginia Tech is squarely on the bubble, and that 0-5 record against the Top 50 will probably end up sinking the Hokies NCAA Tournament chances.

Finally, here is each of these team's remaining schedules:

Virginia Tech (Team A): Duke, Boston College, at Clemson (~ 1-2)
Baylor (Team B): at Missouri, Texas A&M, at Oklahoma State, Texas (~ 2-2)
Boston College (Team C): Miami, at Virginia, at Virginia Tech, Wake Forest (~ 3-1)
Nebraska (Team D): Kansas State, at Iowa State, Missouri, at Colorado (~ 3-1)
Illinois (Team E): Iowa, at Purdue, Indiana (~ 2-1)

Of the five teams, BC and Nebraska have the easiest remaining games on the schedule. Both are projected to go 3-1. Illinois, already at 11 losses, will likely lose at Purdue and get victories at home over Iowa and Indiana. Virginia Tech and Baylor have much tougher remaining schedules. The Hokies, in particular, are projected to win just one of their final three games -- at home vs. BC. 

So barring any upsets, Virginia Tech should finish 19-10. Baylor will likely finish 18-12, Boston College 19-11, Nebraska 20-10 and Illinois 19-12. Given these results, I'd say you will be correct in projecting both BC and Illinois in the Tournament. Nebraska probably ekes in, while Baylor and Virginia Tech find themselves on the wrong side of the bubble, unless they can make deep runs in their respective conference tournaments.