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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BPI Talk: Could UNC win it all?

By Ryan Feldman

Is it possible that the North Carolina Tar Heels could win the national championship?

The Tar Heels have the best BPI since Feb. 1. In each of the previous two seasons, the team with the best BPI between Feb. 1 and Selection Sunday went on to win the national championship –- Kentucky in 2012 and Louisville last year.

UNC is one of four teams with five wins against the BPI top 25 this season. The others are Wisconsin (7), Michigan (5) and Duke (5).

The Tar Heels are the only team with three wins against the BPI top 15 this season, having defeated Kentucky, Louisville and Duke.

Blind résumés: Pick your No. 1 seed

Let’s play a game called “blind résumés.” Take a look at the graphic to the right with three candidates for a No. 1 seed. Which team would you select?

Team A has the No. 1 RPI and No. 3 BPI with 11 top-50 wins, 17 top-100 wins and no bad losses against a very tough schedule that ranked No. 1 in nonconference play.

Team B and Team C have comparable BPI and RPI ranks, significantly lower than Team A's. Team B has just three top-50 wins and seven top-100 wins but had a fairly tough nonconference schedule.

Team C has eight top-50 wins and 16 top-100 wins but has a bad loss and played a nonconference schedule that doesn’t even rank in the top 100.

It seems as if Team A is the obvious choice, right?

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Team A is the Kansas Jayhawks, a No. 2 seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology. Team B –- the Wichita State Shockers –- and Team C -– the Syracuse Orange –- are both No. 1 seeds.

If Syracuse and Wichita State both get No. 1 seeds after being ranked outside the top eight in RPI, it would be the first time since 2000 that two No. 1 seeds were ranked No. 9 or worse in RPI.

That year was the only year in the past 20 seasons in which a team ranked outside the top eight in RPI earned a No. 1 seed over the team with the No. 1 RPI. The reason? The Cincinnati Bearcats were No. 1 in RPI and lost Kenyon Martin for the season with a broken leg in the Conference USA tournament.

Is Oklahoma State’s résumé underrated?
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have had quite the turbulent season. After losing seven straight, they’ve rebounded by winning two straight since Marcus Smart returned from suspension.

With Smart out (from Feb. 9 to Feb. 21), the Cowboys ranked No. 133 in BPI.

With Smart playing (all other days this season), Oklahoma State is ranked No. 18 in BPI.

The Cowboys are right on the bubble, according to Lunardi.

Oklahoma State doesn’t have a single loss outside the BPI top 100. The Cowboys also have three top-50 wins and seven top-100 wins.

Their biggest flaw on their résumé is nine losses against the BPI top 50.

Of teams currently ranked in the BPI top 100, only three teams have more than nine top-50 losses: Maryland, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Maryland is the only other top-50 team with at least nine losses against the BPI top 50.

Despite all of the losses, the Cowboys are still ranked No. 20 in BPI, although they're No. 47 in RPI. Why? They have eight losses by six or fewer points, two of which were in overtime.

Two of Oklahoma State’s losses –- against Kansas and Iowa State by a combined three points –- rank as two of the top 15 BPI game scores among losses in college basketball this season. No other team has two losses with BPI game scores that high.