Here We Go: A Different Look At Bubble Contenders

The third installment of our rankings mashup, as promised, focuses exclusively on schools that are hovering close to the bubble at this hectic time of year. To get our pool of teams, I eliminated everybody currently ranked in the top 30 in RPI because, and let's be real here, every last one of those schools is basically a lock for the tournament. Everyone else, however, was fair game. And while this tactic saw a few teams slip through the cracks who might not actually be on the bubble (Villanova and Cincinnati, for starters), it still offers a fair representation of just how good some of these tourney contenders really are, and that's ultimately what we're looking for here.

Just like last week, the formula remains the same. Four ingredients go into the mix, (RPI Ranking, Sagarin Rating, Ken Pomeroy Ranking, and Offensive Efficiency Ranking + Defensive Efficiency Ranking then divided in half) and one convenient number gets spit back out. Here are the results:


Click to enlarge

Observations after the jump...

  • The first thing you'll notice is the huge disparity in Maryland's rankings across the board. Only three schools have a worse RPI out of the 40 listed, but a staggeringly-high KenPom rank of 17 keeps them in the top ten. Sagarin's much more logical ranking of 40 appears to be dead-on.
  • The difference between No. 1 Villanova and No. 11 Gonzaga is 18.0, while the difference between No. 12 Tennessee to No. 26 Southern Miss is 10.12.
  • Seeing Illinois ahead of Michigan State and Michigan might seem a tad odd to some, but neither of the Michigan schools have a better number in ANY of theses four categories. That's quite telling.
  • Five schools who are better on the court than their RPI indicates: New Mexico, Belmont, Nebraska, Duquesne, and USC.
  • Five schools who are worse on the court than their RPI indicates: Tennessee, UAB, Florida State, Boston College, and Harvard.
  • 62.5% of teams listed (25 out of 40) are from power conferences. Of the 15 that aren't, only five (Belmont, Gonzaga, UAB, St. Mary's, and Butler) are ranked in the top 20.
  • Five the seven lowest RPIs in the breakdown are also from teams in perceived power conferences. None of those five hails from the Big Ten or Big East either.
  • Cleveland State might be the most peculiar case of this entire bunch. Their 37th overall RPI is in direct conflict with KenPom and his efficiency stats. Most would agree that the Vikings *appear* to have the resume of a possible at-large team, but their deceiving RPI number is propping them up significantly.
  • Lastly, a few notable schools that didn't make the cut: Oklahoma State, Memphis, Mississippi, Oakland, Northwestern, Iona



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