Which college basketball teams are in position to make the NCAA tournament? How strong are they likely to be, and how deserving are they of an NCAA tournament spot?
We take on those questions below. The chart compares the top 76 teams in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology (the 68 tournament teams, the first four out and the next four out) alongside ESPN’s metrics: the Basketball Power Index and Strength of Record.
BPI uses game results to produce a projection of team strength.
Strength of Record, developed this season, is a résumé rating that measures how difficult it is to achieve a team’s record, given its schedule to date. Strength of Record takes into account both the opponents a team has played as well as where the game was played.
Strength of Record and BPI are not designed to predict the tournament field. That’s what we have Joe Lunardi for! Rather, Strength of Record can be used to analyze possible snubs, undeserved bids or over- or under-seeded teams based on their résumés. Once the field is set, BPI can be used to determine which teams might make a deep run or outperform their seeds or are ripe for an upset.
Based on BPI, Kansas State is the highest-ranked tournament-eligible team that doesn’t make it on Lunardi’s S curve. Ranking 46th in BPI, the Wildcats have a 15-11 record but have faced the 10th-toughest schedule in Division I. Strength of Record has Kansas State 61st.
The most deserving tournament-eligible team not among Lunardi’s top 76 is Princeton. The Tigers, 59th in Strength of Record, are 0-5 against teams in the BPI top 100, but at 16-0 against teams outside the BPI top 100, they don’t have any “bad” losses.