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Updated Frogs O' War Bracketology

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Welcome to the second edition of Frogs O' War Bracketology! TCU's postseason fate hangs in the balance as the Big 12 Tournament begins tonight. What do the Frogs need to do in Kansas City to earn an NIT bid?

Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the second edition of Frogs O' War Bracketology! With the Big 12 Tournament beginning tonight in Kansas City, it is time for the Frogs to play their way into the NIT field. As it stands right now, the Frogs have likely earned a bid to participate in the College Basketball Invitational, at the very least. TCU is guaranteed to finish the season with a winning record overall, and recent history with the CBI suggests that a winning record from a power conference team should be good enough to get in.

The Frogs still have a shot to enter the NIT, but there are a lot of factors at play. Let's start with a little bit of technical details surrounding the NCAA Tournament. As you know, 68 teams are invited to the Big Dance every year. Of those 68 teams, 32 are awarded automatic bids by virtue of winning their conference's postseason tournament (except for the Ivy League, where the regular season champion is given an automatic bid), while the other 36 are awarded at-large bids.

The Frogs could, theoretically, play their way into the NCAA Tournament by winning the Big 12 Tournament, but that looks unlikely at this point. The NIT would be the next logical destination for TCU, but that is beginning to look like a longshot as well. The NIT consists of 32 teams, with a fluctuating number of automatic bids and at-large bids. Why does the number fluctuate? It all depends on the aforementioned conference tournaments. The NIT awards automatic bids to teams who win their regular season conference championship but fail to earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament by winning their conference tournament. This often happens with small conferences.

Take the Southwestern Athletic Conference, for example. In 2014, the Southern Jaguars were crowned SWAC Regular Season Champions and were awarded the #1 seed in the SWAC Tournament. However, the Jaguars were upset by the #8 seed Prairie View A&M Panthers in the Quarterfinals. Texas Southern would go on to win the SWAC Tournament and receive the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Southern's consolation prize was an automatic bid to the NIT. Make sense?

Therefore, TCU's odds of receiving an NIT bid are contingent on how many of these small conference regular season champions go on to win their automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. TCU fans should be rooting for all of the top seeds in these small conference tournaments, so that there are less automatic bids in the NIT. As of this morning, seven automatic bids to the NIT have been awarded. With eight more small conference tournaments still to go, let's assume that only half of the top seeds win out, thus resulting in a total of 11 automatic bids in the NIT. That leaves us with 21 potential at-large bids.

So, let's get down to it! Starting with the NCAA Tournament... Since it is unlikely that TCU wins the Big 12 Tournament and earns a bid to the Big Dance, let's (somewhat unscientifically) fill out the field of 68.

Let's start with the 32 automatic bids for conference champions. Eleven schools have already earned automatic bids. As for the rest, this is a pretty difficult task, as March is unpredictable and any team theoretically can win their conference tournament, especially in the smaller conferences. For the sake of argument, let's say that the teams that the highest remaining seeds in each of the remaining conference tournaments all win out. (I know - this is highly unlikely, if not impossible, but that's beyond the point.) Information is current as of March 11, 2015.

Conference

Champion

America East Conference

Albany*

American Athletic Conference

SMU*

Atlantic 10 Conference

Davidson*

Atlantic Coast Conference

Virginia*

Atlantic Sun Conference

North Florida

Big 12 Conference

Kansas*

Big East Conference

Villanova*

Big Sky Conference

Montana*

Big South Conference

Coastal Carolina

Big Ten Conference

Wisconsin*

Big West Conference

California-Davis*

Colonial Athletic Association

Northeastern

Conference USA

Louisiana Tech*

Horizon League

Valparaiso

Ivy League

Yale*

Mid-American Athletic Conference

Manhattan

Mid-American Conference

Central Michigan*

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference

North Carolina Central*

Missouri Valley Conference

Northern Iowa

Mountain West Conference

Boise State*

Northeast Conference

Robert Morris

Ohio Valley Conference

Belmont

Pac-12 Conference

Arizona*

Patriot League

Lafayette*

Southeastern Conference

Kentucky*

Southern Conference

Wofford

Southland Conference

Stephen F. Austin*

Southwestern Athletic Conference

Texas Southern*

Summit League

North Dakota State

Sun Belt Conference

Georgia State*

West Coast Conference

Gonzaga

Western Athletic Conference

New Mexico State*

* denotes current top seed

That leaves us with 36 at-large bids to distribute out. Let's start with teams that should be a lock to get in. These are the teams that aren't conference champions or currently leading their conference but should get into the NCAA Tournament no matter what. After that, let's look at everybody else - teams that are somewhere between locked and on the bubble.

Team

Status

Arkansas

Locked

Baylor

Locked

Butler

Locked

Cincinnati

Locked

Dayton

Locked

Duke

Locked

Georgetown

Locked

Georgia

Locked

Iowa

Locked

Iowa State

Locked

Louisville

Locked

Maryland

Locked

Michigan St

Locked

NC State

Locked

North Carolina

Locked

Notre Dame

Locked

Ohio State

Locked

Oklahoma

Locked

Oregon

Locked

Providence

Locked

San Diego St

Locked

St. John's

Locked

Utah

Locked

Virginia Commonwealth

Locked

West Virginia

Locked

Wichita St

Locked

Wisconsin

Locked

BYU

Comfortable

Oklahoma St

Comfortable

Ole Miss

Comfortable

Purdue

Comfortable

Xavier

Comfortable

Colorado St

On the bubble

Old Dominion

On the bubble

Temple

On the bubble

Texas

On the bubble

Every year there are teams "snubbed" from the NCAA Tournament. These teams usually highlight the NIT field. Now it's time to take a look at the 32 teams that could receive invitations to the NIT. But first, we need to make another important assumption. Remember those small conference teams that win their conference in the regular season but not the postseason tournament? Since 2007 when the NIT contracted from 40 to 32 teams, 77 small conference schools have received an automatic bid, an average of about nine per season. For argument's sake, let's assume that 11 teams will receive automatic bids to the NIT this season. That leaves 21 at-large bids for everyone else, including TCU.

After removing the 68 NCAA Tournament teams, let's assign these 21 remaining spots to the next best teams. I used a combination of overall record, RPI, strength of schedule, quality wins, quality losses, and conference strength to assign seeds to these 22 at-large teams, based on how they stand right now.


Team

D-1 Record

RPI

SOS

Conference

Record

Status

1-Seed

LSU

22-9

48

86

SEC

11-7

Comfortable

UCLA

19-12

50

32

Pac-12

11-7

Comfortable

Tulsa

21-8

47

103

AAC

14-4

Comfortable

Richmond

19-12

53

36

A-10

12-6

Comfortable

2-Seed

Miami (FL)

20-11

60

80

ACC

10-8

Comfortable

Texas A&M

20-10

55

85

SEC

11-7

Comfortable

Indiana

19-12

57

25

B1G

9-9

Comfortable

Illinois

19-12

59

66

B1G

9-9

Comfortable

3-Seed

Stanford

18-12

58

53

Pac-12

9-9

Comfortable

Pittsburgh

18-13

65

40

ACC

8-10

On the Bubble

Alabama

17-13

78

54

SEC

8-10

On the Bubble

Connecticut

17-13

80

68

AAC

10-8

On the Bubble

4-Seed

Harvard

19-7

64

157

Ivy

11-3

On the Bubble

Buffalo

21-9

32

67

MAC

12-6

On the Bubble

Rhode Island

20-8

69

172

A-10

13-5

On the Bubble

UTEP

21-9

74

126

C-USA

13-5

On the Bubble

5-Seed

Green Bay

22-7

62

201

Horizon

12-4

On the Bubble

Saint Mary's

20-9

72

106

WCC

13-5

On the Bubble

Illinois St

20-12

68

64

MVC

11-7

On the Bubble

Massachusetts

17-14

73

30

A-10

10-8

On the Bubble

6-Seed

Georgia St

21-9

71

164

Sun Belt

15-5

On the Bubble

Automatic







Automatic







Automatic







7-Seed

Automatic







Charleston Southern

16-11

164

270

Big South

13-5

Automatic

William & Mary

18-12

97

131

CAA

12-6

Automatic

Iona

26-8

54

217

MAAC

17-3

Automatic

8-Seed

Saint Francis

22-10

161

335

NEC

15-3

Automatic

Murray St

25-5

70

257

OVC

16-0

Automatic

Bucknell

18-14

142

187

Patriot

13-5

Automatic

South Dakota St

21-9

92

260

Summit

12-4

Automatic

These next teams are the ones barely outside the NIT picture, as of today. The inclusion of these teams are contingent on the number of automatic bids that are distributed over the next couple of days. You can keep track of that right here.


Team

D-1 Record

RPI

SOS

Conference

Record

Status

First Four Out

Memphis

18-13

82

45

AAC

10-8

First Four Out

Arizona St

17-14

84

52

Pac-12

9-9

First Four Out

Seton Hall

16-14

81

59

Big East

6-12

First Four Out

Toledo

19-12

77

92

MAC

11-7

First Four Out

Next Four Out

Vanderbilt

18-12

88

107

SEC

9-9

Next Four Out

California

17-14

101

71

Pac-12

7-11

Next Four Out

Minnesota

16-14

95

57

B1G

6-12

Next Four Out

TCU

17-14

129

113

Big 12

4-14

Next Four Out

Work To
Do

Florida

15-16

75

6

SEC

8-10

Work to Do

Kansas St

15-16

83

15

Big 12

8-10

Work to Do

South Carolina

14-15

96

26

SEC

6-12

Work to Do

Tennessee

15-15

105

61

SEC

7-11

Work to Do

As it stands right now, the Frogs are slightly on the outside looking in. TCU's RPI and strength of schedule measures just aren't high enough to legitimately put the Frogs in the field today. So that begs the question, what does TCU need to do to jump into the field?

To jump into the NIT bubble, the Frogs need to likely win at least two games in the Big 12 Tournament. TCU has proven that it can beat Kansas State, and the Frogs played the Jayhawks close in both meetings in the regular season. It would take a heroic effort from the Frogs to win two games and advance to the Big 12 Semifinals, but accomplishing that feat would increase the chances of a bid to the NIT. Three wins in Kansas City would give the Frogs 20 for the season and all but guarantee a spot in the NIT. However, that would mean that TCU would be in the Big 12 Championship Game as the #9 seed, a feat that has only been accomplished one time in the history of the league. In 2009, Baylor advanced to the title game as the 9-seed but fell to Missouri. Coincidentally, the Bears earned an NIT bid with 15 losses overall and a 5-11 mark in Big 12 play.

To further increase the Frogs' chances, each remaining top seed in the small conference tournaments would need to win out. The more at-large bids that are available, the higher the odds that TCU earns a spot in the NIT. But for now, the most important thing to worry about is the Frogs defeating Kansas State tonight.

Editor's Note: This is the just the second time I've ever done something like this, and it is quite difficult to predict so many moving parts all at once. I wouldn't go running to Las Vegas with this information.