Are the Baylor Bears NCAA-worthy?

March, 16, 2013
3/16/13
2:40
PM ET

AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte
Pierre Jackson (left) and the Baylor Bears deserve a second look on Selection Sunday.
After Thursday's two-point loss to Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament, it appears that the Baylor Bears will not make the NCAA Tournament this year. They fell to 4-9 in their last 13 games and are just four games above .500 overall.

Baylor ranks just 68th in the RPI, the organizational tool used by the NCAA Tournament selection committee, and are no longer on Joe Lunardi's bubble.

But taking a deeper look at the entirety of Baylor’s résumé – the Bears probably deserve strong consideration for the NCAA Tournament.

Competitive Against Very Good Competition
Baylor has played 13 games against the current BPI Top 50, so it makes sense that their record wouldn’t be as strong as those who have played weaker schedules.

Though the Bears are only 2-11 in those games, they were only outscored by 3.9 PPG – barely more than one possession per game. With seven of those games away from home, their BPI vs Top 50 works out to a very respectable 70.4.

High-Quality Losses
Baylor is weighed down by two bad losses, both in the first month of the season to teams outside the BPI Top 100: (144) College of Charleston and (140) Northwestern.

Both came by only four points, and the Charleston loss is de-weighted in BPI because the Bears were missing Brady Heslip.

But Baylor's other losses were against top competition, often with the Bears a play away from changing the result.

They had two chances at tying three-pointers in the last few seconds vs Oklahoma, lost on a shot with 0.2 seconds left in overtime at Oklahoma State, lost in heartbreaking fashion vs Kansas State, and came a Pierre Jackson three-pointer away from winning Thursday night.

Two Great Wins
It's not all near-misses for the Bears. In addition to a nine-point win at Kentucky with Nerlens Noel back in December, Baylor beat Oklahoma State by 10 and Kansas by 23.

Only four other teams have multiple double-digit wins against BPI Top-20 opponents: Georgetown, Illinois, Indiana, and Pittsburgh.

The blowout win over Kansas rated a 99.7 on the Game BPI scale, making it the fifth-best single-game performance by any team this season. To put the 23-point win in perspective, Kansas’ other four losses came by a combined 21 points.

Putting It All Together
It’s not just BPI -- which has Baylor 44th -- that rates the Bears highly. Ken Pomeroy’s well-respected system had Baylor ranked 40th entering Saturday's games.

KenPom’s “Luck” statistic looks at the deviation between the team’s actual record and their expected record based on offensive and defensive efficiency. Based on that, Baylor has been the 4th-unluckiest team in Division I this year.

The Bears will learn their fate tomorrow on Selection Sunday. If they're bound for the NIT, the numbers say it's by the slimmest of margins.

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