Life on the bubble. Better than in the bubble, right?
The Gophers may know better than any college basketball team because every year at this time they seem to be flirting with the NCAA Tournament. But will the tourney's selection committee flirt back?
At this point, the Gophers presumably have some work left to do, and a short amount of time to do it. At 18-11 overall with a 7-9 record in the Big Ten, Minnesota is still in ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi's tournament field. Here's how Lunardi explained his reasoning during a Q&A in ESPN's Media Zone.
I moved them back in after last night into the last-four-in group. Obviously it’s a tenuous position when you’re still below .500 in the league. This is going to be a year where sub .500 teams make it, almost certainly from the Big 12, possibly from the Big Ten as well.
It would sure be a lot easier to feel good about Minnesota’s chances if they could find a way to win these last two games and go into the conference tournament at 9-9 instead of 8-10. I think 9-9 would get them into the tournament almost regardless of what happens in the conference tournament. 8-10 is going to put them in a pretty nervous position sitting there with a lot of other teams that look just like them.
CBS Sports expert Jerry Palm said Minnesota's win over No. 20 Iowa put them back in the tournament, but barely.
The Gophers close the regular season schedule at No. 16 Michigan on Saturday, and at home against unranked Penn State on March 9.
Minnesota's tournament résumé includes RPI top 50 wins over Wisconsin, Ohio State and Iowa, along with impressive wins over Richmond and Florida State.
Statistical data, outside of wins, will play a large role in the Gophers’ chances of reaching the tournament. RPI and BPI, as defined below, are very important.
RPI: Rating Percentage Index, a number used to rank teams based on strength of schedule and weight said team’s wins and losses. It is one of the numbers considered heavily by the selection committee when it chooses tournament participants.
BPI: Basketball Power Index, a similar ranking system that produces a number based on not only what the RPI considers, but more in depth numbers as well.
Here’s the statistical case the Gophers are making, according to ESPN.
RECORD: 18-11 (7-9 in the B1G)
VS. RPI TOP 25: 2-5
VS. RPI TOP 50: 3-7
VS. RPI TOP 100: 6-9
BAD LOSSES (defined by us as losses to teams outside the top-68 in RPI): Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue