Kentucky over Florida headlines BPI picks

February, 14, 2014
2/14/14
11:58
AM ET

Mark Zerof/USA TODAY Sports
BPI gives Julius Randle and the Wildcats a 60 percent chance to beat Florida on Saturday night.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index rates teams using a system that takes into account factors such as the pace of a game, margin of victory, game site and absence of key players.

In addition, BPI can be used to make projections of each team’s chance of winning a specific matchup. The team with the higher chance to win according to BPI has won about 73 percent of the time this season. For example, on Saturday, Feb. 8, BPI correctly projected three teams in the Top 15 of The Associated Press poll (Michigan, Texas and Cincinnati) to lose to lower-ranked or unranked opponents.

Here is a preview of five of Saturday’s matchups, examined using information produced by BPI:

Florida at Kentucky (9 PM, ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Kentucky 60 percent likely to win
These teams are closer in BPI – Florida No. 3, Kentucky No. 6 – than in The Associated Press poll (3 and 14, respectively), and the BPI projection reflects that.

The location of this game is significant. The Gators would be more likely to win according to BPI if these teams were playing on a neutral site (55 percent likely) or at Florida (69 percent), as they will on March 8.

The matchup quality for this game (a 0-to-100 gauge of the quality of a contest, based on the teams’ BPI) is 89.3; no game in the remainder of the regular season has a greater quality number.

Pittsburgh at North Carolina (1 PM, CBS)
BPI Projection:
Pittsburgh 56 percent likely to win
Despite Wednesday’s dramatic loss to Syracuse, Pittsburgh remains among the nation’s most powerful teams. All five of the Panthers’ losses have been to teams in the BPI Top 30, with three of those coming against BPI No. 2 Syracuse and BPI No. 8 Duke; four of those losses were by a combined 10 points. Two of Pittsburgh’s wins (over Clemson and Stanford) rank among the Top 20 this season based on BPI Game Score.

The quality of their performance across all of their games makes the Panthers the team BPI projects to win this game against BPI No. 33 North Carolina.

Kansas State at Baylor (7 PM, ESPNU)
BPI Projection:
Baylor 56 percent likely to win
With Kansas State (BPI No. 40) coming off its overtime victory over BPI No. 4 Kansas, it might be surprising to see the Wildcats as underdogs to a team that isn’t likely to make the NCAA Tournament as things stand now, but that is the impact of home-court advantage. According to BPI, Kansas State would be 73 percent likely to beat the Bears (who are No. 57 in BPI) if this game were in Manhattan, Kan., instead of Waco, Texas.

LSU at Arkansas (5 PM, ESPNU)
BPI Projection:
Arkansas 73 percent likely to win
If BPI ranking determined selection to the NCAA Tournament, Arkansas (BPI No. 44) would be the 33rd of 36 at-large selections, as it stands now. That would appear to leave the Razorbacks with little margin for error.

In the teams’ first meeting this season, on Feb. 1, LSU (now 63rd in BPI) beat visiting Arkansas 88-74. The Razorbacks registered a 40.6 BPI game score that day, their second worst of the season.

Brigham Young at Saint Mary’s (8 PM, ESPN2)
BPI Projection:
Saint Mary’s 64 percent likely to win
Much like Arkansas, BPI No. 51 Brigham Young and No. 53 Saint Mary’s appear to be in the gray area of possible tournament selection heading into this matchup. As it stands now, if BPI ranking determined the NCAA field, BYU would be the third-most powerful team and the Gaels the fourth-most powerful to miss out on one of the 36th at-large spots.

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