Stats & Info: Oklahoma State Cowboys

NCAA, BPI correspond, to a point

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
Kevin C. Cox/Getty ImagesDakari Johnson and Kentucky received a worse seed than BPI would have given them
Comparing the top of the NCAA men’s basketball championship field to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index shows a lot of similarity in how the selection committee and ESPN’s rating system evaluated teams. Although 31 of the 36 at-large teams in the field would also have been selected had only BPI been used to select the field, there are notable differences in the seeds of some prominent teams and how BPI would have placed them.
BPI rankings corresponded with the first three No. 1 seeds, as Arizona, Florida, and Wichita State are the top three teams in BPI (in that order). But unlike in the previous two official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 overall seed (Florida) is not the No. 1 team in BPI as of Selection Sunday.

The fourth No. 1 seed is Virginia, which is sixth in BPI. Ahead of Virginia in BPI are Louisville and Kansas.

That said, in each of the three official seasons of BPI, the No. 1 seeds all have been ranked in the Top 6 on Selection Sunday. And for the second straight year, three of the four No. 1 seeds ranked better in BPI than RPI.

Differences between committee, BPI
Among the teams in the field, below are those that are most “overseeded” according to BPI (based on their seed if only BPI were used to seed the 68 teams). Second-seeded Michigan was given a seed four spots better than its BPI would suggest, while four other schools are overseeded by three lines from where their BPI ranking would put them:
Similarly, in the chart at the right are the seven teams most underseeded according to BPI -- all at least three seeds worse than they should be, according to the metric. Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Iowa are each seeded five spots below where they would be if the field were seeded by BPI.

Snubs and undeserved bids
BPI was not designed to predict who would make the field of 68, but rather who deserved to make the field (and where they deserved to be seeded) based on a very specific measure of team strength based on its season results.

That said, 63 of the 68 teams -- more precisely, 31 of the 36 at-large teams -- that made the field would have also made the field if it had been selected entirely according to BPI.

The best-ranked at-large team that didn't make it was No. 33 Southern Methodist, while the worst-ranked at-large team that did make it was No. 66 North Carolina State.

BPI Talk: Projecting championship week

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
Championship Week can be unpredictable as teams try to improve their NCAA tournament résumés, whether it’s to vie for a No. 1 seed or just to get into the field.

ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) measures how well each team performs based on game result, margin, pace of game, location, opponent strength and the absence of any key players.

Using BPI, we are able to project the chances for each team to win its major conference tournament. The probabilities take into account the matchups in each bracket based on each team’s BPI. The team with the best BPI isn’t necessarily always the favorite if that team has much tougher matchups than other teams in the tournament.

According to BPI, the Arizona Wildcats have the best chance of any team in one of the seven major conferences (American, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) to win its tournament. They have a 63 percent chance of winning the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona has more than a six times better chance of winning the Pac-12 tournament than any other team. The UCLA Bruins have the second-best chance at 10 percent.

Pac-12 best chances: Arizona 63 percent, UCLA 10 percent, Oregon 10 percent, Arizona State 5 percent, Stanford 4 percent

The Florida Gators are the prohibitive favorites in the SEC tournament with a 57 percent chance to win it. The Kentucky Wildcats (25 percent) are the only other SEC team with better than a 7 percent chance. The No. 9 seed Missouri Tigers have a slightly better chance to win the SEC tournament than the No. 3 seed Georgia Bulldogs.

SEC best chances: Florida 57 percent, Kentucky 25 percent, Tennessee 7 percent, Arkansas 3 percent, Missouri 2 percent

American & Big East
The Louisville Cardinals (American) and Villanova Wildcats (Big East) are both close to 50 percent in terms of their chances of winning their respective conference tournaments.

The Memphis Tigers have an edge playing on their home court in the American Tournament, but they still have a significantly worse chance than Louisville and Cincinnati. Memphis does, however, have a greater probability of winning the tournament than higher-seeded teams Southern Methodist and Connecticut. With its home-court advantage, Memphis would be a favorite against any team in the tournament other than Louisville.

American best chances: Louisville 49 percent, Cincinnati 18 percent, Memphis 14 percent, SMU 12 percent, Connecticut 8 percent

No team other than Villanova or Creighton has better than a 6 percent chance to win the Big East tournament. There’s a 44 percent chance that Villanova and Creighton meet in the Big East championship game.

Big East best chances: Villanova 48 percent, Creighton 31 percent, Xavier 6 percent, St. John’s 6 percent, Providence 4 percent

Perhaps the most interesting conference tournament is the ACC, where the No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils are the favorites at 27 percent. The No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers (25 percent) and No. 2 Syracuse Orange (23 percent) are close behind.

ACC best chances: Duke 27 percent, Virginia 25 percent, Syracuse 23 percent, Pittsburgh 12 percent, North Carolina 7 percent

Big Ten
Another interesting conference tournament is the Big Ten, where four teams have between a 17 percent and a 26 percent chance of winning the tournament. The No. 2 seed Wisconsin Badgers are the favorites at 26 percent, while the No. 1 seed Michigan Wolverines are only the third favorites.

Big Ten best chances: Wisconsin 26 percent, Ohio State 19 percent, Michigan 19 percent, Michigan State 17 percent, Iowa 11 percent

Big 12
The Kansas Jayhawks have a 37 percent chance to win the Big 12 tournament, but their path isn’t easy. They could face the teams with the fourth- and second-best chances of winning the tournament in the quarterfinals and semifinals.

The No. 8 seed Oklahoma State Cowboys, with a 10 percent chance of winning it, could face Kansas in the quarterfinals. The No. 4 seed Iowa State Cyclones, with an 18 percent chance, could face Kansas in the semifinals. Both teams have a 35 percent chance of beating Kansas, according to BPI.

Big 12 best chances: Kansas 37 percent, Iowa State 18 percent, Oklahoma 16 percent, Oklahoma State 10 percent, Baylor 6 percent

Wichita State: 31-0 is likely, BPI says

February, 28, 2014
Feb 28

Peter G. Aiken/Getty ImagesBPI says Wichita State is a heavy favorite to win Saturday and finish its regular season unbeaten.
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.

Here is a preview of five of this weekend’s matchups, examined using information produced by BPI (through games of Feb. 27):

BPI No. 126 Missouri State at 5 Wichita State (Saturday, 2 ET on ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Wichita State 97 percent likely to win
Missouri State extended Wichita State to overtime in their first meeting, but BPI doesn’t project the Shockers to suffer their first loss in their regular-season finale. Their closest margin of victory at home has been nine points, and that was to a BPI Top 40 team (Tennessee).

BPI No. 7 Syracuse at 12 Virginia (Saturday, 4 ET on ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Virginia 61 percent likely to win
Of Virginia’s four best performances by BPI Game Score this season, two were in the team’s last two games. The importance of game site is evident in this matchup: Syracuse would be projected as 68 percent likely to win if the game were at the Carrier Dome.

BPI No. 3 Kansas at 20 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 9 ET on ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Kansas 58 percent likely to win
Oklahoma State lost to Kansas by two points on Jan. 18 in Lawrence, Kan., earning the third-best Game Score of the season by a losing team. The Cowboys, who broke a seven-game losing streak on Feb. 22, are the third-most inconsistent team in the BPI Top 20, whereas Kansas is the sixth-most consistent team among the Top 20.

BPI No. 25 Saint Louis at No. 21 VCU (Saturday, 6 ET on ESPN2)
BPI Projection:
VCU 67 percent likely to win
This game offers a sharp contrast between BPI and the perception of media members who vote in The Associated Press poll. Saint Louis (which was 19th in BPI before Thursday’s loss to Duquesne) is ranked 10th in the AP rankings, and VCU is not among the 33 teams that received votes this week. Although the Rams have seven losses, all have been away from the Rams’ home court, and two (by a total of seven points) are to BPI Top 30 teams. The Rams’ strength of schedule ranks 20 spots higher than the Billikens’.

BPI No. 22 Cincinnati at No. 24 Connecticut (Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN)
BPI Projection:
Connecticut 63 percent likely to win
Cincinnati won the first meeting of the season, beating the visiting Huskies by five points on Feb. 6. That is among nine games against BPI Top 50 teams the Bearcats have played (5-4). Last Saturday, a close game (decided by five points or fewer) finally went against the Bearcats; their 58-57 loss to Louisville made them 6-1 in such games. Connecticut is 5-5 against Top 50 teams, including a one-point win over No. 2 Florida in early December.

BPI Talk: Could UNC win it all?

February, 25, 2014
Feb 25
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.

BPI Talk: Why Florida is the best team

February, 18, 2014
Feb 18
Which team is the best team in college basketball? And how do we really measure that?

Syracuse is No. 1 in the AP Poll, but that is based on the subjective votes of media members.

Arizona is No. 1 in BPI and Kansas is No. 1 in RPI. But those metrics are based on formulas that factor in a team’s performance through the entire season.

The more insightful question is: Which team is the best with the roster we think each team will have in the NCAA Tournament?

For most teams, that's their current roster, but there are a few exceptions.

To evaluate that, we'll use each team's BPI with all of its key players. Those key players are defined as the five players who average the most minutes per game among players who have played at least half of the team's games. Games in which a key player played less than 10 minutes due to injury or foul trouble or any other reason are not included.

Florida reigns supreme
Based on this metric, the Florida Gators are the best team in college basketball.

With their current roster -- with Scott Wilbekin, Casey Prather, Michael Frazier II, Patric Young and Dorian Finney-Smith in the lineup together -- they are 17-1, with their only loss coming by one point to UConn on a buzzer-beater by Shabazz Napier.

Undefeated Syracuse comes in at No. 2, followed by Kansas at No. 3.

A healthy Michigan State is dangerous
Michigan State is expected to have Branden Dawson back for the NCAA Tournament. Based on Dawson’s returning, the Spartans would rank fourth with their full squad.

That's a significant jump from their overall No. 15 BPI rank. They've lost four of seven games since Dawson went out.

In their two games with all of their key players except Dawson, the Spartans have a 61.1 BPI (win against New Orleans, loss to Nebraska), which would rank well below any team expected to get an at-large bid. That’s how important a healthy Dawson could be to their chances of going deep in the NCAA Tournament.

Is Iowa a top-5 team?
Based on this metric, the Iowa Hawkeyes are No. 5. They're 18-4 with their full squad.

Jarrod Uthoff has played at least 10 minutes in all but two games (at Michigan and against Ohio State). Iowa lost both.

Arizona isn't top 10 without Brandon Ashley
The Arizona Wildcats have been a much different team without Brandon Ashley, who is expected to miss the rest of the season.

Based on this metric, the Wildcats are No. 13. They're 2-2 without Ashley. That includes losses at California and at Arizona State and a two-point home win against Oregon.

Arizona has the No. 1 BPI with Ashley in the lineup, but it's a different story without him. Ashley could be the difference between Arizona being the National Championship favorite and not even contending for a Final Four berth.

What about Oklahoma State and North Carolina?
Although Michael Cobbins isn't among the top-five Oklahoma State players in minutes per game, the Cowboys are a much different team without him. Their BPI without Cobbins but with Marcus Smart ranks 33rd in this metric among teams currently in the BPI top 40.

Oklahoma State is 4-6 without Cobbins and with Smart, with two wins against West Virginia and home wins against Texas and TCU.

North Carolina's current roster includes Leslie McDonald, who was ruled eligible Dec. 18 after he missed the first nine games of the season. Since then, the Tar Heels' current roster has the worst BPI of any team currently in the BPI top 40.

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 32 overall in BPI, but their three best wins of the season -- against Louisville, Michigan State and Kentucky -- came without McDonald.

Since McDonald returned, they have losses to Wake Forest and Miami (FL) and didn't have a BPI top-50 win before Saturday's victory against Pittsburgh.

Embiid's Jayhawks control the paint

January, 18, 2014
Jan 18

John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsEmbiid tied a Big 12 freshman record with eight blocks in the game. Oklahoma State had three.
In a showdown that could feature three of the top five picks in the upcoming NBA Draft - Kansas's Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid against Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart - it was an Embiid block party that stole the show and controlled the paint in the Kansas Jayhawks win.

Embiid finished with eight blocks, breaking his own Kansas freshman record for blocks in a game and tying the Big 12 freshman record.

He rejected 26 percent of Oklahoma State's shots while he was on the floor. And he also tied a career high with nine defensive rebounds.

Kansas controls the paint
Embiid's presence on both ends contributed to a huge disparity in the paint: Kansas outscored Oklahoma State by 12 points in the paint despite taking fewer shots in the paint.

The Cowboys managed just 22 paint points on 26 shots, shooting less than 43 percent from the area.

For its part, Kansas shot 68 percent in the paint. Oklahoma State's defense wasn't much of a deterrent - while Embiid himself blocked eight shots for Kansas, the entire Oklahoma State team managed three.

Naadir Tharpe outshines Smart
On the offensive end for Kansas, Naadir Tharpe stole the show with his outside shooting.

Tharpe went 7-for-8 on shots outside the paint, finishing with a team-high 21 points.

His backcourt counterpart, projected top-five NBA draft pick Marcus Smart, finished at the opposite end of the spectrum. Smart missed all eight of his field goal attempts outside the paint.

Smart finished 3-for-14 from the field, a season-low 21.4 field goal percentage.

Historical notes
The Jayhaws won three straight regular-season games, all against ranked teams, for the first time since November 25-December 2, 1995. That year's team, which featured Raef LaFrentz, Paul Pierce and Jacque Vaughn, reeled off consecutive wins against No. 8 Utah, No. 15 Virginia and No. 23 UCLA.

After winning in Lawrence last year, Oklahoma State falls back to the wrong side of the coin. The Cowboys have lost 17 of their last 18 games at Allen Fieldhouse.

The bowl winners will be ...

December, 19, 2013
With bowl season upon us, we can project the winners of the 35 Football Bowl Subdivision bowl games using the Football Power Index.

FPI is a predictive measure of team strength that uses the elements of team offensive, defensive and special-teams performance (adjusted for opponent) that correlate most with future results.

We can use each team’s FPI and the site of the game (all bowl games are treated as neutral) to calculate the expected point differential in a matchup and the percentage chance of each team winning.

In prior years, FPI has done reasonably well in projecting bowl winners (taking the team with the higher chance as the “winner”), getting about 65 percent of games right since 2004.

There have been some lean years in the past, but FPI has been quite good in the three most recent bowl seasons, accurately projecting 70 percent of winners in those games.

FPI takes into account only a team’s on-field performance to date in the given season. It doesn’t explicitly take into account players who are out with injuries or for other reasons, coaching movement before the bowls or differing levels of motivation that are sometimes thought to exist in bowl games.

In the 2013 regular season, starting with games on Sept. 26, FPI accurately projected 74 percent of winners.

FPI believes there to be a very clear favorite (80 percent or more to win) in four of the five BCS matchups, with Ohio State and Clemson as the most evenly matched BCS opponents.

The projections for all 35 bowl games this season are below. A couple of things that stand out:

The two most-lopsided matchups, according to FPI, involve a Pac-12 team facing a Big 12 opponent from Texas. FPI has Oregon as 91 percent likely to defeat Texas in the Valero Alamo Bowl and Arizona State as 91 percent likely to beat Texas Tech in the National University Holiday Bowl.

The most-even matchup, according to FPI, is Kansas State versus Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, with the teams separated by a little more than a point in FPI (the Wildcats are 53 percent favorites). The closest “high-profile” bowl game is the AT&T Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and Missouri, with the Cowboys 54 percent likely to win, according to FPI.

The Vizio BCS National Championship is the only bowl game with both teams ranked in the top 10 in FPI. Three other games involve two FPI top-20 teams: Wisconsin-South Carolina in the Capital One Bowl; Oklahoma State-Missouri in the Cotton Bowl and Ohio State-Clemson in the Discover Orange Bowl.

Reynolds, Fresno State among week's best

November, 26, 2013

AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezKeenan Reynolds ran all over the field for Navy this weekend.
Week 13 had its share of big-time performances as Navy’s Keenan Reynolds rushed for an FBS quarterback-record seven touchdowns, Wyoming’s Brett Smith accounted for a FBS single-game high eight touchdowns and Fresno State’s Derek Carr threw for a school-record seven touchdowns.

With the help of ESPN’s new college football metrics (see explanations here), ESPN Stats & Information takes a look back at the best performances of Week 13 and ahead to the chances of Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State remaining undefeated.

Best Individual Performances
In the past, this article has used opponent-adjusted QBR to rank the best individual performances of the week. Total QBR is a rate stat that measures efficiency. In Week 13, Kevin Hogan (98.0), Clint Chelf (97.8) and Braxton Miller (97.1) had the top three opponent-adjusted QBRs of Week 13.

Points above average (PAA) is another stat that can be used measure the top individual performances. PAA totals the number of points that a player contributes to his team’s net scoring margin above what an average quarterback would have.

PAA is a counting stat (rather than a rate stat) that accounts for both efficiency and the number of plays. If a quarterback has a high PAA, he was likely efficient and involved in a lot of plays. Week 13 featured four of the top 10 single-game PAAs of the season:

Keenan Reynolds (19.0 PAA) rushed for seven touchdowns in Navy’s 58-52 triple-OT win over San Jose State on Friday night. Reynolds set an FBS record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a game, a mark previously held by Dee Dowis (Air Force, 1989) and Craig Candeto (Navy, 2002).

Brett Smith (18.6 PAA) threw for a single-game school-record seven touchdowns and 498 yards while leading Wyoming to a 59-56 overtime win against Hawaii on Saturday. Smith also ran for 142 yards and a touchdown. Smith’s 640 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns are the most by an FBS player in a game this season.

Marquise Williams (16.4 PAA) tied the school record for passing touchdowns (five) and was third in single-game total offense (469 yards) by halftime in North Carolina’s 80-20 rout of Old Dominion. He helped the Tar Heels rack up a school-record 721 total yards of offense in a game that did not even last 60 minutes.

Derek Carr (15.8 PAA) threw for 522 yards and a school-record seven touchdowns in Fresno State’s 69-28 win against New Mexico. He had the third-most passing yards and tied Brett Smith for the most passing touchdowns in a game this season.

Best Teams Performances
Offense – Fresno State added 48.7 expected points to its net scoring margin on offense in its 69-28 win against New Mexico, the highest offensive EPA in a game this season. The Bulldogs racked up a school and league record 822 yards of total offense and averaged 9.9 yards per play.

Defense– Oklahoma State contributed 17.5 expected points to its net scoring margin on defense in its 49-17 win against Baylor. The Bears were averaging 61.2 points and 684.8 yards per game entering the game, but were held to 17 points and 453 yards by the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is the first team to hold Baylor to a below-average offensive efficiency rating in a game in the last three seasons.

Special TeamsNebraska added 12.5 expected points on special teams in its 23-20 win against Penn State. The Cornhuskers blocked a punt and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. They were also the beneficiaries of a missed extra point in the first quarter and missed field goal in overtime.

Looking ahead to rest of the season
After Baylor lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday, there are three remaining undefeated teams from BCS AQ conferences vying for a spot in the BCS National Championship. Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State are all deserving of a spot in the title game, but at least one will be left out.

What are the chances that all three teams will be undefeated entering bowl season? According to projections run by Analytics Specialist Alok Pattani, there is a 29 percent chance that all three teams will be undefeated after their conference championships.

Alabama has the toughest remaining schedule. The Tide have to play on the road at Auburn on Saturday, and if they win, against either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship. There is a 46 percent chance that the Tide win both of those games.

Florida State has the easiest remaining schedule, and there is an 87 percent chance that it wins its remaining two games.

So, while Ohio State appears to be on the outside looking in, there is a 60 percent chance that either Alabama or Florida State does not win out. Keep these projections in mind as Alabama heads to Auburn, Florida State travels to Florida (Noon ET, ESPN) and Ohio State goes to Michigan (Noon ET, ABC) on Saturday.

Chelf, Cowboys defense dominate Baylor

November, 24, 2013

Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesClint Chelf and the Oklahoma State defense were too much for Baylor Saturday

It was a decidedly un-Baylor-like performance where the Bears got shut down by Oklahoma State, managing just three points through the first three quarters of the game. Baylor didn’t score a touchdown until there was 14:04 left in the fourth quarter, and by then the Bears were trailing 35-3.

Oklahoma State’s 32-point win is the third-largest win against a BCS top-four team. The last time a BCS top-four team lost by a margin that wide was 2008, when Oklahoma blew out No. 2 Texas Tech by 44.

Baylor came into the game averaging an FBS-best 61.2 points per game but was held to 17 points, Baylor’s fewest points in a game since December 29, 2010 against Illinois in the Texas Bowl. Baylor has lost 37 straight road games against AP-ranked opponents, with its last road win against an AP-ranked opponent coming in 1991.

Clint Chelf threw for a career-high 370 yards, his second career 300 yard game. His other one? It came against Baylor last year.

How was he so successful? He threw the deep ball well.

Chelf had nine completions on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield Saturday, the most such completions in a game for a Big 12 quarterback this season. Chelf had twice as many completions, yards and touchdowns as Bryce Petty on such throws.

Petty entered the game as the Big 12-leader in completions, yards and touchdowns on passes thrown 15 yards or more downfield.

Chelf threw for all three of his touchdowns against five or more pass rushers Saturday, tied for the most touchdowns against the blitz by a Big 12 quarterback in a game this season.

Baylor entered Saturday as one of 16 teams without a turnover in the red zone. Against Oklahoma State, the Bears had two turnovers and didn’t score a touchdown in the red zone for the first time since Sept. 18, 2010 at TCU.

Baylor's offense was forced into four three-and-outs Saturday, its most three-and-outs in a game since Sept. 2, 2011 against TCU. The Bears entered the game with an FBS-low seven three-and-outs for the season.

Oklahoma State offense revived under Chelf

November, 19, 2013
Oklahoma State enters its matchup with fourth-ranked Baylor (Saturday, 8 ET on ABC) riding a six-game win streak, and is averaging nearly 48 points per game over the last four games since Clint Chelf took over as the starting quarterback. One important part of its recent offensive success has been an increased reliance on the run.

Getting back to the ground game
In the first six games, rushing attempts accounted for fewer than 45 percent of the Cowboys’ total plays; since then, Oklahoma State has called a run on nearly 60 percent of its plays. The ground game has been more explosive over the last four games, totaling 10 rushes of at least 20 yards, which is six more 20-yard runs than it had in the first six games.

The key to Oklahoma State’s success on the ground has been improved play in the trenches. It has averaged 2.3 yards before contact per rush in its first six games and was first contacted behind the line of scrimmage on more than a quarter of its carries. In the last four games, the Cowboys have totaled at least 130 yards before contact in three of four contests, and are averaging 3.3 yards before contact per rush.

Chelf has set career highs in rushing yards in three of four games since taking over as starter, averaging 72 yards per game and 10.7 yards per rush on designed runs. His signature play was a 67-yard touchdown run up the middle in Oklahoma State’s win over Texas Tech.

As noted in the graphic above, in the last four games, Oklahoma State is averaging 12 more points per game than in its first six games. Yet at the same time, the Cowboys are averaging 27.4 fewer yards per game in the last four games than they did in their first six games.

More efficient in the red zone
One reason for Oklahoma State’s increased efficiency on offense is that the team is doing a better job of getting into the end zone when inside the 20-yard line.

Oklahoma State has scored a touchdown on 90.5 percent of its red zone opportunities in the last four games, the sixth-best rate in the FBS since the start of Week 9. From Weeks 1-8, the Cowboys scored a touchdown on 64.5 percent of their red-zone opportunities, 51st among FBS teams.

Protecting the ball
Another reason for Oklahoma State’s improved offensive output is better ball protection. The Cowboys have turned the ball over on 6.5 percent of their drives in the last four games, down from 10.6 percent in the first six games. They are one of nine teams in the FBS without a lost fumble since the start of Week 9.

Oklahoma State’s recent success in the running game will be tested this weekend against Baylor. The Bears have added 63.5 expected points on opponents’ rushes, the second-best rushing defense EPA in the FBS. Rushing defense EPA is a measure of the contribution that it makes to its team’s net scoring margin when opponents run the ball.

Top stats to know: BCS Standings

November, 17, 2013
A look at the most significant notes to come from this week’s BCS Rankings:

Stanford’s decline
Stanford dropped from No. 4 to No. 9 with its loss to USC, the biggest drop of any school this week.

The Cardinal are ranked in the top 10 in each of the first five BCS standings releases for the second time in school history.

They were ranked in the top 10 in each standings in 2011.

Five straight for Alabama
Alabama is No. 1 in the first five BCS standings for the first time in school history. This is the 15th week that Alabama is No. 1, tied for second-most of any team.

Alabama now as 10 wins as the No. 1 team, third-most all-time. Oklahoma and USC lead with 12 such wins.

No. 2 Florida State and No. 3 Ohio State stayed in the same positions.

Ohio State is ranked in the top 3 in consecutive weeks for the first time since the final two weeks of the 2007 season.

Looking ahead: Oklahoma State vs. Baylor
Saturday night’s game between No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 4 Baylor will be the fourth matchup of BCS top-10 Big 12 teams in the last five seasons. If recent history is any indication, it should be a blowout – the victory margin in the previous three meetings was an average of 35 points per game.

Unbeaten and unrecognized
Fresno State and Northern Illinois are both undefeated but have not risen above No. 14 this season. No team that was undefeated at the time of the final standings finished worse than 12th in the rankings (Marshall was 12-0 and No. 12 in 1999).

Welcome back
No. 24 Ole Miss is ranked ranked in the BCS for the first time since Nov. 22, 2009, when it was No. 25. This is its highest ranking since it was No. 19 in the final rankings of 2003.

No. 25 Minnesota is ranked in the BCS for the first time since Oct. 26, 2008, when it was No. 17.

Are the Baylor Bears NCAA-worthy?

March, 16, 2013

AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte
Pierre Jackson (left) and the Baylor Bears deserve a second look on Selection Sunday.
After Thursday's two-point loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament, it appears that the Baylor Bears will not make the NCAA Tournament this year. They fell to 4-9 in their last 13 games and are just four games above .500 overall.

Baylor ranks just 68th in the RPI, the organizational tool used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and are no longer on Joe Lunardi's bubble.

But taking a deeper look at the entirety of Baylor’s résumé – the Bears probably deserve strong consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

Competitive Against Very Good Competition
Baylor has played 13 games against the current BPI Top 50, so it makes sense that their record wouldn’t be as strong as those who have played weaker schedules.

Though the Bears are only 2-11 in those games, they were only outscored by 3.9 PPG – barely more than one possession per game. With seven of those games away from home, their BPI vs Top 50 works out to a very respectable 70.4.

High-Quality Losses
Baylor is weighed down by two bad losses, both in the first month of the season to teams outside the BPI Top 100: (144) College of Charleston and (140) Northwestern.

Both came by only four points, and the Charleston loss is de-weighted in BPI because the Bears were missing Brady Heslip.

But Baylor's other losses were against top competition, often with the Bears a play away from changing the result.

They had two chances at tying three-pointers in the last few seconds vs Oklahoma, lost on a shot with 0.2 seconds left in overtime at Oklahoma State, lost in heartbreaking fashion vs Kansas State, and came a Pierre Jackson three-pointer away from winning Thursday night.

Two Great Wins
It's not all near-misses for the Bears. In addition to a nine-point win at Kentucky with Nerlens Noel back in December, Baylor beat Oklahoma State by 10 and Kansas by 23.

Only four other teams have multiple double-digit wins against BPI Top-20 opponents: Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, and Pittsburgh.

The blowout win over Kansas rated a 99.7 on the Game BPI scale, making it the fifth-best single-game performance by any team this season. To put the 23-point win in perspective, Kansas’ other four losses came by a combined 21 points.

Putting It All Together
It’s not just BPI -- which has Baylor 44th -- that rates the Bears highly. Ken Pomeroy’s well-respected system had Baylor ranked 40th entering Saturday's games.

KenPom’s “Luck” statistic looks at the deviation between the team’s actual record and their expected record based on offensive and defensive efficiency. Based on that, Baylor has been the 4th-unluckiest team in Division I this year.

The Bears will learn their fate tomorrow on Selection Sunday. If they're bound for the NIT, the numbers say it's by the slimmest of margins.

Numbers to know: November recap

December, 1, 2012

Lance King/Getty ImagesMason Plumlee had a huge month for the Blue Devils, averaging 19.9 PPG and 11.0 RPG.
Player of the Month – Mason Plumlee, Duke Blue Devils
Plumlee was the key to Duke’s 7-0 start, which included three wins over top-five schools. He averaged 19.9 points per game and 11.0 rebounds per game during the month. There’s a long season ahead, but it’s worth nothing that only Tim Duncan (twice) and Ralph Sampson averaged 19 and 11 in the ACC over the previous 30 years.

Plumlee’s month included multiple 20-point, 17-rebound efforts. Over the last 15 years, the only other major conference players to do that before the end of November were Michael Beasley and Blake Griffin.

Leading Scorer of the Month – C.J. McCollum, Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Topping 30 points on three occasions, McCollum averaged 26.3 points per game to lead the nation in November.

If history is any indication, McCollum could be lottery-bound this June. That’s where the past five players to lead the nation in scoring in November were eventually selected.

Defensive Player of the Month – Jeff Withey, Kansas Jayhawks
Withey averaged 5.7 blocks in November, the most blocks per game by a player in November since Mississippi State’s Jarvis Varnado in 2008. Withey alone had twice as many blocks (40) as Kansas’s opponents combined (20).

Could Withey average 10 points and five blocks this season? The last major conference players to do that were Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning in 1991-92.

Freshman of the Month – Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State Cowboys
Smart led the Cowboys to a 5-0 November, averaging 13.4 PPG, 7.0 RPG and 5.8 APG. Just how complete is Smart’s game? The last freshman to reach all three of those averages in November was Dwyane Wade in 2001.

Free Throw Shooter of the Month – Jordan Adams, UCLA Bruins
Adams was the bright spot in a forgettable month for the Bruins, and he did a big part of his damage from the line. The freshman went 35-36 (97.2 percent) on free throws. Having made his last 33, Adams stands 10 shy of Darren Collison’s school record.

3-Point Shooter of the Month – Ryan Sypkens, UC Davis Aggies
The Aggies senior averaged 5.3 3-point field goals per game, the most for a player in November since Rotnei Clarke in 2009 for Arkansas. Sypkens also made 63.6 percent of his attempts, the highest for any player with at least 20 attempts.

Rebounder of the Month – Jamelle Hagins, Delaware Fightin Blue Hens
Hagins led the nation in rebounds per 40 minutes and ranked second in defensive rebounding percentage. His 23 rebounds against Lafayette were the most for a Division I player in November since 2009.

Distributor of the Month – Michael Carter-Williams, Syracuse Orange
Carter-Williams tallied 46 assists in five games to lead the nation at 9.2 APG. That’s the most assists-per-game in November for a Big East point guard (min. three games) since Omar Cook’s 10.0 in 2000.

Thomas rides hot start to power Ohio St

November, 19, 2012
A look back at some of the more memorable college basketball performances this weekend:

Player of the Weekend – Deshaun Thomas

Deshaun Thomas scored 56 points in the span of two days, leading Ohio State to a pair of wins in the Hall of Fame Tip Off. On Saturday, the junior posted his fourth career double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds against Rhode Island. He followed that up by matching his career high with 31 points against Washington. Thomas connected on his first nine shots to reach 21 points in the first half alone.

Freshman of the Weekend – Marcus Smart

Oklahoma State got a huge boost from Marcus Smart in a 76-56 upset of No. 6 North Carolina State. Smart, who ranked 10th in the ESPN 100, put together perhaps the most complete game by a freshman this season. He scored 20 points and added seven rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and four steals. In fact, it’s been over 10 years since any player reached all five of those numbers in a single game. That was Arizona’s Luke Walton in 2002 against USC, his junior season.

Ugly Stat Line of the Weekend – NC State’s Big Three

On the other end of Oklahoma State’s upset was an erratic performance from NC State’s top three scorers from last season. Scott Wood went 1-for-11 from the field, arguably the worst shooting performance of his career. Lorenzo Brown had more turnovers (seven) than points (six), while managing just one assist. C.J. Leslie scored only two points in 17 minutes before fouling out. The trio, which combined to average 39 PPG last season, combined to score 14 points on 16.0 percent from the field.

Stat Sheet Stuffer – DeAndre Kane

DeAndre Kane went off for 33 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, though Marshall came up short against Hofstra 103-100 in double overtime. It marked the fourth triple-double in school history, with the previous three belonging to Hassan Whiteside. This was the first 30-point, 10-assist, 10-rebound game by a Division I player since Greivis Vasquez in 2009 against North Carolina, and just the fourth such game in the past 15 years.

Comeback of the Weekend – New Mexico

It’s not every day that a team wins a game despite trailing by five with less than 15 seconds remaining. But that’s exactly what happened Sunday at the Paradise Jam. New Mexico trailed George Mason 69-64 when Kendall Williams cut it to two points with a 33-foot prayer. He then stole the inbounds pass, which eventually led to Tony Snell’s game-winning three-pointer with two seconds to go. The final margin represented New Mexico’s only lead of the second half.

Notre Dame defense reminiscent of Tide's

October, 11, 2012
Notre Dame has allowed six or fewer points in each of its last three games. No FBS team has had a four-game streak since Alabama in 1993. That Tide team held Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Louisiana Tech and South Carolina to six or fewer points early in that season. The streak was broken with a 17-17 tie against Tennessee.

Oklahoma State Goes for 30
Oklahoma State has scored at least 30 points in 22 consecutive games. If the Cowboys can reach the 30-point mark against Kansas this week, they will own the all-time record for consecutive 30-point games.

They currently co-own the mark with Hawaii, who had a 22-game stretch from 2006-07. In fact, two of the four longest all-time streaks are current. Oregon has scored at least 30 points in 19 straight games (tied with 1971-72 Arizona State for third most).

Vanderbilt Struggling Against Top Competition
Vanderbilt is facing its second AP top-five team of the season. The Commodores lost 48-3 earlier this season to fifth-ranked Georgia. It's not a situation where Vandy feels very comfortable. Overall, the Commodores are 0-46 on the field against AP top-five teams (was awarded a win against Alabama in 1993 due to forfeit).

To make things worse, 38 of those losses were by double digits and only four times did they score at least 20 points. Eight of the 46 losses have come against this week’s opponent Florida.

Duke Has Rare Bowling Opportunity
Duke can become bowl eligible this week with a win over Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils currently own the longest bowl drought among BCS-AQ teams, having not gone to the postseason since 1994. If Duke ends its drought, Washington State Cougars will now own the distinction, last appearing in a bowl in 2003.

But Duke will have to reverse some recent history to get there. The Blue Devils are just 4-72 since that last bowl appearance against the remaining six teams on their schedule this season (Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami) and hasn't beaten any of those teams since 2004.

Marcus Lattimore is a True Workhorse
In SEC games, Marcus Lattimore has run between the tackles on 76.3 percent of his carries. He has averaged 4.4 yards per carry on these runs with 48 percent of his yards coming after contact.

Lattimore gets even stronger in the fourth quarter, when he averages 5.5 yards per run inside the tackles with 3.3 yards coming after contact. He’ll face an LSU defense that allowed 52 yards on 12 carries in the fourth quarter to Florida’s Mike Gillislee last week, including 21 yards after contact.