Loyal Cougars

Hoops Résumé Check: January 28

It’s a tough, tough road from here to the end. Time for another BYU basketball résumé check.

Just as we were beginning to think BYU was working itself back into the at-large picture, which bracketeers such as Joe Lunardi also thought, the Cougars dropped both games of the Portland-Gonzaga road trip.

/deflating balloon (or bubble?) sound

At Portland, BYU put together miracles at the end of regulation and the first overtime just to keep the game going — only to cough up a lead late in the second overtime and eventually lose in a third extra period.

If that wasn’t tough enough, playing Gonzaga on the back end of such a marathon all but killed BYU’s chances at an upset. Even after being down only two at halftime, the Cougars ran out of gas and simply aren’t shooting the three enough to win such a contest.

So now, the only clear path to the NCAA Tournament is the fate of probably 90% of Division I teams: win your conference tournament. There might be one scenario in which BYU can work back to the at-large bubble, at least to be considered on Selection Sunday — and I’ll detail that after our numbers.

Here are your boilerplate explanations for what follows:

RPI (ratings percentage index) is the most well-known and prominent rating in college basketball. It may not always be the best rating, but it seems to be the most prominent one involved in the tournament selection process. So it’s important.

But to give us some more depth, we’ll look at ratings from the savant Ken Pomeroy and from Jeff Sagarin, long-time ratings calculator (and whose football ratings have been part of the BCS formula since the beginning). For a big picture number, I’ve averaged the three ratings in some places — but for the time being, RPI still remains the most important for tournament selection.

The committee also likes to see how teams play away from home, so the combined road/neutral record is also something to watch.

Here’s BYU’s profile:

Record13-9
Home: 8-1
Road 3-6 | Neutral 2-2 | Combined 5-8

RATINGS
RPI: 48 (-10)
KenPom: 50 (+5)
Sagarin: 47 (-1)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
RPI: 15
KenPom: 9
Sagarin: 10

Once again, ratings alone look decent for BYU because of its strength of schedule. The 5-7 mark in road/neutral games isn’t a bad winning percentage, either — but perhaps some of the wins didn’t come against the right teams. The Cougars are in an odd spot of not currently being a tournament team while simultaneously showing up as a “good win” for every other tournament team on its schedule.

Here’s the look at BYU’s opponents, individually and in an overall tournament-resume profile:

 

OPPONENT

 

RPI

KenPom

Sagarin

AVG

+/-

Weber State

W

183

187

175

182

+14

@ Stanford

W

53

45

42

47

+22

Mt St Mary’s

W

245

249

254

249

-9

Iowa State

L

11

20

11

14

-6

Texas (n)

W

31

35

36

34

+22

Wichita St (n)

L

7

7

16

10

+5

Utah State (n)

W

106

99

86

97

-19

North Texas

W

156

175

184

172

+27

@ UMass

L

8

31

25

21

-3

Prairie View A&M

W

239

313

311

288

+16

@ Utah

L

113

48

56

72

+28

@ Oregon

L

40

40

38

39

-21

OPPONENT

 

RPI

KenPom

Sagarin

AVG

+/-

Loyola Marymount

1-1

142

150

156

149

-18

Pepperdine

1-1

125

129

122

125

+19

San Diego

1-0

170

127

135

144

+28

San Francisco

1-0

94

118

117

110

Santa Clara

1-0

206

182

190

193

Portland

0-1

168

112

103

128

Gonzaga

0-1

25

26

23

25

(Colorado Mesa, non-DI, excluded)

vs. Top-50
RPI: 1-5
KP: 2-6
Sag: 2-5
AVG: 2-5

vs. Top-100
RPI: 3-5
KP: 3-6
Sag: 3-6
AVG: 3-6

vs. < 100
RPI: 9-4
KP: 9-3
Sag: 9-2
AVG: 9-3

BYU’s record against the top 50 — a key resume point to the selection committee — has at least gotten better. At last check, BYU had zero RPI top 50 wins, but Texas has worked its way back into the top 50 and Stanford is on the cusp (already in the top 50 according to Pomeroy and Sagarin).

Such a record against the top-50 would in some cases be enough to get BYU into the tournament. These numbers don’t happen in a vacuum, after all — the shifting landscape around BYU is what helped it get back into bubble consideration even after losses to Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.

But there are simply too many losses to teams below the top 50, especially against sub-100 teams.

For at-large hopes, the only way I see BYU even working itself into consideration is winning out and reaching the WCC tournament final. Such a feat would make BYU 14-4 in the WCC regular season, give it a few key wins (such as two, maybe three wins against Saint Mary’s and a home win against Gonzaga), and give the Cougars an overall record of 24-10 (these numbers assume the Cougars reach and then lose the WCC tournament final to Gonzaga).

Such an ending to this season would make Selection Sunday worth watching for Cougar fans because of BYU’s strength of schedule. Otherwise, it’s all about refining the process so BYU is ready to make a run in Las Vegas.