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Monday, March 12, 2012
BPI breaks down at-large bids, snubs

By Alok Pattani, ESPN Stats & Information

The College Basketball Power Index (BPI) was not designed to predict which teams would make the field of 68, but rather which teams deserved to make it based on merit.

Of the 68 teams, 63 -- or more precisely, 32 of the 37 at-large teams -- would have made the field if it was selected entirely using BPI. The best at-large team that didn’t make it was Arizona (37th), and the worst that did make it was Colorado State (70th).

Iona and Xavier made the field with BPIs that ranked 52nd and 53rd, respectively, which would have put them just outside the field on the BPI bubble. But Colorado State was a more vexing choice, according to BPI, although the Rams likely were helped by an RPI in the top 30. The only at-large teams over the last six seasons with a worse BPI rank than Colorado State were VCU last season (78th) and Michigan (72nd) in 2009.

Talk after the selections was more about if any school was snubbed, it was likely Drexel (which won 25 of its last 27 games) or Pac-12 regular-season champion Washington.

Let’s take the biggest snubs by BPI (Arizona and Miami), the most egregious inclusions by RPI (South Florida and Colorado State) and the two teams most people felt were unfairly left out (Drexel and Washington), and scrutinize their résumés.

You can make the case for Colorado State and South Florida based on each team’s three top-50 wins, but both also have two bad losses (vs. BPI 101-plus). The Bulls had just two wins against teams in the tournament (Cincinnati and Louisville), and only five of their Big East wins came by double digits. (Four wins came by three or fewer points.) The Rams have nice wins against top Mountain West teams but also double-digit losses to the same conference opponents. For both teams, their RPI is well ahead of their BPI, the likely reason they got in.

Arizona had nine wins against top-100 opponents, tied for the most among Miami, USF, CSU, Washington and Drexel. Also, five of the Wildcats’ losses came by four points or fewer or in overtime, all to solid opponents, and not one of their losses came by more than 11 points.

Miami has two of the best wins among any team in this group, winning at Duke and beating Florida State by 16 points. The Hurricanes played worse with Reggie Johnson out earlier during the nonconference portion of their schedule, which BPI takes into account by de-weighting those games. Five of Miami’s eight losses since conference play started came by five or fewer points.

Washington beat Arizona twice and Stanford once but lost at least once to every other top-100 team in the Pac-12. The Huskies won the regular-season title by consistently beating up on the dregs of the conference. They played some good teams close early in the nonconference schedule but were hurt by losses to UCLA and Oregon State to end the season.

Drexel has a lot of wins and ranked 18th in the BPI “raw rating” (before taking into account strength of opponents), but the Dragons were hurt by a weak schedule (185th in BPI SOS). They played only five games against opponents with double-digit BPI ranks, with their best win against 49th-ranked VCU. Despite the great record, Drexel had an unfavorable RPI as well, which likely conspired to keep the Dragons out.