NCAA bubble trouble?

NORMAN, Okla. — On the brink of being an NCAA Tournament lock, the Sooners suffered a devastating loss the other night at TCU, so does that have them in a win or potential tourney bust situation? Sooners Illustrated analyzes.

On the brink of being an NCAA Tournament lock, the Sooners suffered a devastating loss the other night at TCU, so does that have them in a win or potential tourney bust situation?

The safe way to play it here is to take yes as an answer and take care of business against Iowa State Thursday night in Kansas City, Mo.

But the reality is the Sooners aren't really in that much trouble.

Let's look further into why.

Since the tournament field was expanded to 68 teams two years ago, only a pair of teams with Rating Percentage Indexes (RPIs) of 40 or better have been left out of the field.

Those two both came in 2011, the 68-team field's inaugural season, but neither were Bowl Championship Series (BCS) teams.

Both Southern Miss and Colorado State were left out with 36 and 38 RPIs, respectively.

Flip forward to last season and every team that compiled an RPI of 40 or better over the course of the season made the NCAAs.

In fact, the only inside the RPI Top 50 that didn't find its way into the field last season was No. 43 Marshall.

Compile all the teams that have been in the RPI Top 50 over the previous two seasons and only eight have had their bubbles burst on Selection Sunday.

So, OU's current 34th-ranked RPI figures to put it in good position to be dancing in just less than a week's time.

But there's more evidence than that.

Strength of schedule is another serious component to the selection committee's criteria, and the Sooners stand very strong in that department as well.

With their current 17th toughest schedule in the country, the Sooners have done themselves a serious favor.

Perusing through the last two seasons' serious bubble candidates, just three have had Top 20 strength of schedules and not made the tournament.

Connecting with our previous information, all three of those—Marshall and Northwestern last season and Boston College in 2011—had RPIs below the 40 mark.

If still not convinced that OU is basically in safe shape on the inside of the bubble, use those two previous items, then add them together inside the same resume.

It looks even that much more convincing.

For sake of argument, let's say OU conservatively stays inside the RPI Top 40 and strength of schedule Top 25 after falling to Iowa State this weekend. Both are extremely likely and realistic figures.

Now, again, using serious bubble contenders, no team has been in both of those categories and failed to make the tournament over this time frame.

Just four, 2012 Colorado State (27 RPI, 4 SOS), 2011 Michigan State (38 RPI, 10 SOS), 2011 Tennessee (32 RPI, 2 SOS) and 2011 Villanova (22 RPI, 24 SOS) have been considered on the fence, and all four got their chance to dance.

For even more emphasis, take into account how the Sooners have fared against Top 100 competition.

With a setback, they'll drop to 8-9 against those foes, but 11 of 20 (55 percent) bubble teams that earned tournament berths over the last two years were within a game of .500 against Top 100 foes.

Contrast that to those that were denied berths—again, RPI and strength are schedule are also factored into the equation but ignore that for right now—and just eight of 27 (29.6 percent) bubble burst squads were within a contest of .500 against those same opponents.

So, being within a game of .500 against that competition at the very least lends some more credence to OU's hopes.

Granted, a large amount of emphasis is put on which teams those victories come against and if they're quality victories or not, coupled with if a team has any nasty losses.

The Sooners certainly have a pair of very quality wins against Top 15 teams in Kansas (No. 7) and Oklahoma State (No. 14), despite that ugly loss to the RPI's No. 226 team in TCU.

Bottom line: it'll still take some serious recent history for OU to be snubbed. That doesn't look likely, at least at this point.

Comparative data against Top 50/100:

(out teams)
--6/27 (25 percent) .500 or better against Top 100
--3/27 (11.1 percent) .500 or better against Top 50
--8/27 (32.1 percent) within one game of .500 against Top 100

(in teams)
--3/20 (10.5 percent) .500 or better against Top 50
--9/20 (42.1 percent) .500 or better against Top 100
--11/20 (55 percent) within one game of .500 against Top 100

2012 bubble teams:

(out)
Oral Roberts—55 RPI, 229 SOS, 1-1 vs. Top 50, 3-3 vs. Top 100
Drexel—64 RPI, 247 SOS, 1-2 vs. Top 50, 4-3 vs. Top 100
Seton Hall—61 RPI, 57 SOS, 3-7 vs. Top 50, 8-9 vs. Top 100
Mississippi State—73 RPI, 88 SOS, 2-4 vs. Top 50, 7-9 vs. Top 100
Washington—70 RPI, 93 SOS, 0-4 vs. Top 50, 4-8 vs. Top 100
Miami—59 RPI, 55 SOS, 2-9 vs. Top 50, 3-11 vs. Top 100
Northwestern—60 RPI, 17 SOS, 1-10 vs. Top 50, 5-13 vs. Top 100
Tennessee—86 RPI, 40 SOS, 4-7 vs. Top 50, 7-11 vs. Top 100
Ole Miss—58 RPI, 52 SOS, 1-7 vs. Top 50, 6-12 vs. Top 100
Arizona—76 RPI, 124 SOS, 1-3 vs. Top 50, 5-9 vs. Top 100
Oregon—62 RPI, 89 SOS, 0-5 vs. Top 50, 5-8 vs. Top 100
Marshall—43 RPI, 14 SOS, 3-6 vs. Top 50, 5-10 vs. Top 100
Nevada—69 RPI, 182 SOS, 0-3 vs. Top 50, 4-3 vs. Top 100
Middle Tennessee-56 RPI, 214 SOS, 0-1 vs. Top 50, 3-3 vs. Top 100

(in)
Virginia—45 RPI, 94 SOS, 2-6 vs. Top 50, 7-6 vs. Top 100
Texas—48 RPI, 15 SOS, 4-11 vs. Top 50, 4-11 vs. Top 100
South Florida—51 RPI, 36 SOS, 2-9 vs. Top 50, 6-10 vs. Top 100
West Virginia—53 RPI, 16 SOS, 4-8 vs. Top 50, 9-11 vs. Top 100
Alabama—34 RPI, 32 SOS, 3-6 vs. Top 50, 8-10 vs. Top 100
Colorado State—27 RPI, 4 SOS, 3-6 vs. Top 50, 7-9 vs. Top 100
California—37 RPI, 91 SOS, 0-3 vs. Top 50, 9-7 vs. Top 100
Xavier—40 RPI, 30 SOS, 4-6 vs. Top 50, 9-11 vs. Top 100
BYU—49 RPI, 110 SOS, 1-6 vs. Top 50, 5-6 vs. Top 100
Iona—42 RPI, 163 SOS, 0-2 vs. Top 50, 5-3 vs. Top 100

Top 40 left out: None
Top 50 left out: No. 43 Marshall

2011 bubble teams:

(out)
Virginia Tech—51 RPI, 97 SOS, 2-4 vs. Top 50, 7-5 vs. Top 100
Alabama—66 RPI, 132 SOS, 2-2 vs. Top 50, 3-4 vs. Top 100
Harvard—42 RPI, 197 SOS, 0-2 vs. Top 50, 2-4 vs. Top 100
UTEP—65 RPI, 111 SOS, 0-3 vs. Top 50, 2-5 vs. Top 100
Colorado—73 RPI, 74 SOS, 4-6 vs. Top 50, 5-9 vs. Top 100
Boston College—58 RPI, 17 SOS, 1-6 vs. Top 50, 7-10 vs. Top 100
Missouri State—46 RPI, 151, SOS, 1-1 vs. Top 50, 2-5 vs. Top 100
New Mexico—87 RPI, 98 SOS, 2-5 vs. Top 50, 3-10 vs. Top 100
Saint Mary's—55 RPI, 129 SOS, 1-4 vs. Top 50, 2-6 vs. Top 100
Colorado State—40 RPI, 26 SOS, 2-5 vs. Top 50, 5-7 vs. Top 100
*Southern Miss—36 RPI, 88 SOS, 1-3 vs. Top 50, 6-5 vs. Top 100
*Minnesota—48 RPI, 36 SOS, 3-8 vs. Top 50, 5-8 vs. Top 100
Wichita State—49 RPI, 96 SOS, 0-3 vs. Top 50, 2-5 vs. Top 100

(in)
Clemson—61 RPI, 87 SOS, 1-4 vs. Top 50, 7-7 vs. Top 100
Michigan State—38 RPI, 10 SOS, 6-9 vs. Top 50, 9-10 vs. Top 100
Penn State—46 RPI, 5 SOS, 4-6 vs. Top 50, 8-11 vs. Top 100
Tennessee—32 RPI, 2 SOS, 7-5 vs. Top 50, 11-9 vs. Top 100
Villanova—22 RPI, 24 SOS, 6-5 vs. Top 50, 10-5 vs. Top 100
Marquette—54 RPI, 31 SOS, 4-10 vs. Top 50, 6-11 vs. Top 100
Georgia—41 RPI, 34 RPI, 3-9 vs. Top 50, 5-9 vs. Top 100
UAB—35 RPI, 65 SOS, 0-5 vs. Top 50, 7-6 vs. Top 100
VCU—53 RPI, 114 SOS, 3-4 vs. Top 50, 6-6 vs. Top 100
USC—80 RPI, 49 SOS, 4-4 vs. Top 50, 6-6 vs. Top 100

Top 40 left out: No. 36 Southern Miss & No. 40 Colorado State
Top 50 left out: No. 36 Southern Miss, No. 40 Colorado State, No. 42 Harvard, No. 44 Cleveland State, No. 46 Missouri State, No. 48 Minnesota & No. 49 Wichita State

**2012-13 Oklahoma—34 RPI, 17 SOS, 3-6 vs. Top 50, 8-8 vs. Top 100**

*Denotes a team used for RPI & statistical data that eventually did not make the NIT either

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