Don’t Be Lazy Evaluating West Virginia’s Tournament Résumé

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Andrew Doughty Jul 28, 2021, 8:01 AM
West Virginia NCAA Tournament Resume
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The NET Rankings don’t like West Virginia. The KenPom Ratings aren’t fond of the Mountaineers, either, nor is the BPI. I don’t care. 

West Virginia is a 3-seed in the latest edition of Bracketology, updated on Friday, one day after they lost to Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Ranked 11th overall, they’re only two spots away from falling to a 4-seed, though that better not happen come Selection Sunday because West Virginia’s NCAA Tournament résumé says they’re a 3-seed despite three major metrics suggesting otherwise.

Ten teams ranked below West Virginia in Bracketology are ranked higher than West Virginia in NET (25), KenPom (27), and BPI (27): Virginia, Purdue, Florida State, Texas, Creighton, Villanova, USC, Colorado, Texas Tech, Tennessee, and Loyola Chicago. There’s an argument each of those 10 teams should be ranked higher than West Virginia. The argument would suck but it exists only because we know the selection committee loves those metrics, all of which are listed on the official Team Sheets used in the committee room. The argument would be lazy. 

West Virginia has nine losses, none of which are bad according to the committee’s beloved metric, the NET. Only two losses fall outside Quadrant 1, both of which are nearly in Quadrant 1, a five-point home loss to NET-31 Florida, and a one-point double-overtime home loss to NET-37 Oklahoma. The line for a home Quadrant loss is NET top 30. 

West Virginia NCAA Tournament

Two of West Virginia’s other seven losses came against the NET’s top two teams, (1) Gonzaga and (2) Baylor, by a combined six points. (They lost to Baylor by five in overtime but the NET awards a 1-point scoring margin to all overtime games.) They led Gonzaga late in the second half, erased a 12-point deficit against Baylor (and an 18-point first-half deficit against Oklahoma), lost to Texas on a last-second 3-pointer, and lost consecutive games to Oklahoma State by a combined eight points.

West Virginia, despite midseason losses of Isaiah Cottrell and Oscar Tshiebwe, went 7-2 on the road, won six Quadrant 1 games, didn’t have a Quadrant 3 or Quadrant 4 loss, and lost one game by more than five points. Virginia didn’t do that. They didn’t win 78 percent of their road games, win six Quadrant 1 games, and avoid a loss in Quadrants 3 and 4. Purdue didn’t either, nor did Florida State, Texas, Creighton, Villanova, USC, Colorado, Texas Tech, Tennessee, and Loyola Chicago.

Even as they sit idle for the final two days of the Big 12 Tournament, West Virginia isn’t on shaky ground because their metrics are more reflective of a 6-seed than a 3-seed. As they sit idle for two days, West Virginia holds an NCAA Tournament résumé better than those metrics suggest.

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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

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Andrew Doughty

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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.

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.