"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Thursday, February 22, 2018

SOR/Matrix Average: Marquette Only Winner Among 10 "Middle" Teams Wednesday

In the past I've argued a "Middle 25" ranking for college basketball would be much more interesting than the Top 25, since what we really want to identify pre-tournament is the 25 teams fighting for the last 10 spots in the tournament.

The "Middle 25" below were those teams based on me averaging the Strength of Record ESPN argues is the best analytic indicator (a measure of how likely the 25th best team in the country would have been to match the team's record) and the cumulative wisdom of the bracket matrix. I grade last night's performance with a B, C or D letter grade (there were no earth-shattering A or F grades last night) to indicated if a team could have moved up or down based on last night's performance.

SOR/ Matrixup to 10 of 25 get bidsCONFRecordWed GmGrade for Wed or next game (kenpom ranks)
1Arizona State



Thur at #74 Oregon

2Saint Mary's



Thur hosts #295 Pepperdine

3FloridaSEC17-10UnchangedC - closer than expected loss at #15 Tennessee
4BaylorBig 1217-11Sat at #23 TCU; Lunardi 7th in middle
5St. Bona.A 1020-6UnchangedC - closer than expected 73-67 home win over #191 Duquesne
6AlabamaSEC17-10DownD - destroyed by 19 vs #12 Auburn
7MissouriSEC18-10Sat #25 Kentucky
8ProvidenceBig East17-10DownD - losing 56-47 with 13 min left vs. #38 Seton Hall before slick floor suspended
9LouisvilleACC18-9DownD - destroyed by Duke 82-56

Miss St.

Current Cutoff



Sat Hosts #80 South Carolina

11SyracuseACC18-9DownD - lost at home vs. #7 UNC
12NebraskaBig Ten21-9Hosts #27 Penn State
13UCLAPac-1219-8Thur at #60 Utah; lunardi 11th in middle
14MarylandBig Ten19-11Sat hosts #20 Michigan
15MarquetteBig East15-11UpB - bigger than expected win over #71 St. John's
16Boise StateMW21-6UpB - crushed #222 Colorado St 87-54 on road
17Penn StateBig Ten19-10DownD - upset loss vs. #24 Minnesota at home
18LSUSEC16-11Sat #71 Georgia
19USCPac-1219-9Upbigger than expected win at #112 Colorado
20WashingtonPac-1218-9Thur at #93 Stanford
21UtahPac-1217-9Thur hosts #53 UCLA
22GeorgiaSEC15-11DownD - bigger than expected loss at South Carolina 66-57
23Notre DameACC16-12Sat at #89 Wake Forest
24TempleAmerican15-12host #97 UCF
25Western KentuckyCUSA20-7Hosts #316 Charlotte

A warning - there are 10 spots available for this team without any tournament spoilers, most notably if Middle Tennessee or Nevada were to but upset in the Conference USA or Mountain West Tournament than those two conferences would likely get two spots, but there really are not too many spoilers most years. Based on this measure, Marquette is the "5th team out" as the 15th best team among the Middle 25 vying for 10 spots.

The good news is that was going into the St. John's game, and that win was coupled with all four teams in action in the 6th to 15 spots (the "Middle 10" with Marquette) having bad nights - though Providence could still salvage their night with a comeback in the game they need to finish at Noon Thursday. So if ESPN's resume and/or the Bracket Matrix is close, Marquette's chances likely improved somewhat substantially last night in beating a St. John's team that was undefeated in February including the upsets of Villanova and Duke.

Alabama, Louisville, Syracuse and Providence having setbacks and Marquette's win also improving its standing against the three idle teams just in front of them - Nebraska, UCLA and Maryland - give plenty of potential for movement. We will see how many nudge Marquette into their brackets or at least the next teams' out.

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