Drake debuted as a 9-seed (36th overall) in the first edition of Bracketology on Jan. 7. Over the next nine weeks, as they became a favorite of college basketball bettors with an outrageous ATS run, the Bulldogs floated between Missouri Valley’s auto-bid 8- or 9-seed and the conference’s lone at-large 10-, 11-, or 12-seed. After losing to Loyola Chicago in the conference championship, where does Drake stand in the at-large bubble picture?
One day after the 10-point loss to Loyola, Drake was an 11-seed (43rd overall) in Bracketology. A day later, just five days before Selection Sunday, they didn’t move. And in Bracket Matrix’s March 8 aggregate update of more than 100 projections, the Bulldogs were a 12-seed (45th overall), four spots away from missing the NCAA Tournament.
"This team more than deserves it," Drake head coach Darian DeVries said after losing to Loyola. "Their body of work throughout the year is really impressive.”
Drake won’t play before Selection Sunday. Their overall record–25-4 and program-record .862 win percentage–is locked, but their résumé isn’t. They didn’t move from No. 47 in the NET Rankings after the first of seven idle days (Monday), nor did their quadrant records change. They could, however, before 6 p.m. ET on Sunday, as could dozens of other records and metrics.
Five days before Selection Sunday, where does Drake’s bubble résumé stand in seeking their first tournament bid since 2008? How does it compare to the First Four Out teams?
In comparing 11 areas for Drake, Xavier, Boise State, Syracuse, and Saint Louis, the Bulldogs rank first in only one area: road record.
The bad news: NET SOS, average NET wins and losses, and multiple bad losses (road losses to NET-170 Bradley and NET-229 Valparaiso). Drake ranks last in each of those four areas and last in two of the four big metrics, Sagarin and BPI.
The good news: While they lead in only one area, it’s the most convincing number of the board and one arguably most often cited by the committee in recent years. None of the other teams is above .500 on the road, and only Boise State has more than two road wins. (Drake ranks fourth in college basketball in total road wins, only trailing three teams with 10 apiece). That will allow the committee, in my opinion, to justify an at-large bid for Drake even if other metrics are favorable.
Keep in mind, this comparison doesn’t include the five at-large teams below Drake in Bracketology (Michigan State, Wichita State, Colorado State, Utah State, and Seton Hall). They’d have to fall below all five and at least one of these First Four Out teams.
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Andrew Doughty is a writer for BetMGM and host of High Motor by BetMGM, an NFL and college football podcast available on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else. He has written for Sports Illustrated, HERO Sports, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter: @DoughtyBetMGM