Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bubble Analysis: What can we learn from previous Sub .500 in Conference At-Large Qualifiers

As Regular Season schedules begin to wind down, I decided to take a look back over the last 10 years to find the teams that qualified as an At-Large team who did not finish at .500 or better in conference play and see if I could identify trends that help me winnow the bubble teams further.

Here are the teams, by year, that have qualified as an At-Large team for the tourney with a sub .500 Conference Record the previous 10 Seasons:

2016 - None
2015 - Texas (8-10 in Big12) and Oklahoma State (8-10 in Big 12)
2014 - Oklahoma State (8-10 in Big 12)
2013 - Minnesota (8-10 in Big 10)
2012 - UConn (8-10 in Big East)
2011 - None
2010 - Georgia Tech (8-10 in ACC)
2009 - Maryland (7-9 in ACC)
2008 - Arizona (8-10 in Pac10)
2007 - None

Some Observations:

  • More sub .500 Conference teams have made the field since the expansion to 68 Teams (5) in 2012 than in the previous 5 seasons (3).
  • Each of the teams on this list belong to one of the power conferences
  • No at-large qualifier was more than 2 games below .500 in regular season conference play
  • Deep tournament runs did not seem to be a requirement for sub .500 selections.  Only 3 Teams won more than 1 Conference Tournament game (Georgia Tech 3, Maryland 2, UConn 2) and two teams exited without a win in Conference Tournament Play (Oklahoma State in 2015 and Minnesota).  Only  one team reached a Conference Tournament Championship (Georgia Tech) and only one reached a Semi-Final (Maryland).
  • Since the field expanded to 68 teams, none of the sub .500 qualifiers have played in the 'Play-In' games in Dayton, indicating that they were safely in the field by Selection Sunday
  • None have been seeded higher than 9 and none seeded worse than 11
Implications for current bubble teams:

  • Indiana (6-11), Pittsburgh (4-13), Clemson (4-12) can no longer finish within 2 games of .500 in Conference play and are likely no longer under consideration by the Selection Committee
  • Wake Forest (7-9), Illinois (7-9), Tennessee (7-9) need at least 1 more win in conference play to guarantee at least finishing within 2 games of .500 in conference play. 
    • Wake Forest Remaining Games:  Louisville (3/1) and at Virginia Tech (3/4)
    • Illinois Remaining Games: Michigan State (3/1) and at Rutgers (3/4)
    • Tennessee Remaining Games:  At LSU (3/1) and Alabama (3/4)
  • Kansas State (6-10) and TCU (6-10) must win 2 remaining games to get within 2 of .500.  Kansas State travels to TCU tonight.  Conference tournament games not withstanding, this is almost certainly a do or die game for both teams.  KSU's final game is at home against Texas Tech on 3/4.  TCU's final conference game is at Oklahoma on 3/4.

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