The Bracket Big Board takes into consideration past returns, current performance and expected future gains in determining who should be included among the field of 65 (31 automatic and 34 at-large bids). Essentially, the Bracket Big Board is a cheat sheet designed for amateur bracketologists if they were filling out a Tourney Pick ‘Em '09 (Sign up now!) bracket entry today. The Bracket Big Board is updated every Monday/Friday until the dance card is officially unveiled March 15.
Entering the weekend, several misguided prognosticators had undeservedly penned Travis Ford's bunch on the bracket line (The Bracket Matrix tells you exactly who). Maybe they were petrified of Pistol Pete's backless chaps. Maybe they believed Bryant Reeves still dominated the paint with his baby hooks and pasty glow. Maybe they've been partying with Joaquin Phoenix. Regardless the reason, their justification was, and in many cases still is, weak.
Although OSU has played a challenging non-conference schedule and currently stands at 8-6 in the mediocre Big 12, recommending it for the field of 65 is absurd. The controversial Cowboys are a perfect example why some in the bracket prediction business are out of touch with how the selection process truly works.
Three weeks ago, tourney chairman Michael Slive divulged details about how this year's group of roundball minds plans to make sense of the madness. Slive commented the committee will scrutinize teams along the following lines:
•No single category will qualify or disqualify a team.
•A team's full body of work, not its Last 12 games, will be emphasized.
•Conference RPI will not be considered.
•Very close losses against quality competition will be discussed.
Notice a team's overall RPI doesn't necessarily fit into the evaluation scheme. Sure, the RPI is the key ingredient in formulating components such as top 50 record and strength of schedule, but its solitary importance is infinitesimal. Too often, some bracket "experts" still cling to the notion a school's RPI is the ultimate decider. This bracketologist does not. Because the Triple-B attempts to accurately predict the dance card, grasping the committee's ever-changing philosophy is critical.
Look, being a committee member is a thankless position. The Mid-Majority's mock selection account describes the hair-pulling insanity of picking the 34 best teams. But, at this point, Oklahoma St. does not deserve an at-large bid. Even with its win against the Longhorns, the Pokes resume is very suspect. Take a look:
Record: 19-9, 8-6 (conference)
Vs. RPI Top 50: 3-8
Key Wins: Siena (Neutral, By 9), Texas A&M (11), Texas (9)
Key Losses: Gonzaga (N, 12), at Washington (18), Michigan St. (N, 15), Missouri (2), Oklahoma (8), at Texas A&M (12), at Kansas (11), at Texas (25)
The most damning part: excluding competitive home clashes versus Mizzou and Oklahoma, the Cowboys have been embarrassed by quality opponents. Couple that with only two true marquee wins -- Siena is questionable -- and it's hard to justify they are more deserving than Michigan (5-8 vs. RPI Top 50) or Virginia Tech (Road wins at Wake, Miami (FL) and Clemson). Heck, the Patty Mills-less Gaels of St. Mary's have a stronger case than OSU. Of course, wins against Kansas St. and at Oklahoma or a strong conference tourney run would shift the tide.
The moral of the story: overall team RPI is irrelevant. Teams are judged by the sum of all parts, not a solitary number. Based on the former, the Cowboys have substantial work left to do.
Just where in the bubble pecking order is Oklahoma State this week?
*For games played through Sunday, March 1
*RPI data provided by Rivals
*Efficiency stats from kenpom.com
*Team in red = Baller of the Week
*Team in blue = Faller of the Weak
*Teams in orange = moving up
*Teams in blue/gray moving down
On the Bubble: St. Mary's (24-5), Providence (18-11), Oklahoma St. (19-9), Maryland (18-10), Miami (FL) (17-10), San Diego St. (19-8), Kansas St. (20-9), Cincinnati (18-11), Rhode Island (22-8), Temple (17-11), New Mexico (19-10), UAB (20-9)
Dropped Out: San Diego St., USC, Maryland
Conference Breakdown: American East (1), ACC (7), Atlantic Sun (1), Atlantic 10 (2), Big 12 (5), Big East (7), Big Sky (1), Big South (1), Big Ten (8), Big West (1), Colonial (1), Conference USA (1), Horizon (1), Ivy (1), Metro (1), Mid-American (1), Mid-Eastern (1), Missouri Valley (1), Mountain West (3), Northeast (1), Ohio Valley (1), Pac-10 (5), Patriot (1), SEC (5), Southern (1), SWAC (1), Summit (1), Sun Belt (1), West Coast (1), WAC (1)
Programming Note: The Noise is traveling to Phoenix this weekend for the LABR draft so expect a partial Triple-B update Friday followed by a full update late Monday/early Tuesday.
Image courtesy of Getty