Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tell Me What it Takes...

Girl, before I met you, I was F-I-N-E, fine.
But your love made me a prisoner, now my heart's been doin' time...

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system since Steven Tyler's rendition of the song that shares this entry's title has been bouncing around my head, preventing me from writing anything for several minutes.

Now, as a Nebraska a fan, it may be a completely unnecessary exercise, but every year at about this time I like to try to set my own personal goals for the team, which if met, should result in an NCAA berth. Obviously, my goals have gone unmet since the nineties, but so far, it hasn't detered me.

Now, given the firestorm of excitement last week, a share of the conference lead, a smattering of AP and Coaches' votes, and Joe Lunardi jumping on the Big Red Bandwagon, I think a lot of us may have had brackets in our eyes.

That's been tempered now thanks to the hot hands of the Iowa State backcourt, but nonetheless, as unbelievable as it is, an NCAA Tournament berth isn't completely unrealistic if the Huskers can hold serve at home and steal a just few wins on the road.

But to address the question originally proffered by Tyler, Perry, et al., we need to look at what the NCAA committee has required from Big XII teams in the last several years in the way of overall record, conference record, and RPI. The following figures reflect the selection data since 1999, with the percentage of teams who were selected with the following bubbleicious variables:

Overall Record

NOTE: While this is probably the least predictive of any of the stats, its still worth looking at as there are certain 'landmark' numbers of wins or losses that prove to be very determinative.

Total Wins:

-21: 100% (4 for 4)
-20: 100% (6 for 6)
-19: 43% (3 for 7 thanks to 1999)
-18: 75% (3 for 4)
-17: 0% (0 for 4)

Total Losses:

-9: 80% (4 for 5, only 2005 aTm missed out)
-10: 75% (6 for 8)
-11: 75% (3 for 4)
-12: 33% (3 for 9)
-13: 0% (0 for 5)

Conference Record

10-6: 80% (8 for 10)
9-7: 88% (7 for 8)
8-8: 0% (0 for 2, but what is more amazing is that only 2 teams have gone 8-8 in 6 years)


30-39: 100% (3 for 3)
40-49: 78% (7 for 9)
50-70: 36% (4 for 11)

So, since Nebraska is currently setting 12-4 (2-1) with an RPI at 103, and 13 regular season games remaining, we can start to get an idea of what it takes for them to pull off the first trip to the Big Dance in eight years.

It looks like, at a minimum, the Huskers would have to finish the regular season at 7-6 to have a shot at the tourney. That would likely put them at 19-11 or 20-11 depending on what happened in the first two rounds of the Big XII tournament. But given the weakness of the Big XII this year, even a 9-7 conference record with 20 wins might not be enough.

Going 8-5 from here out in the regular season, however, would guarantee a 10-6 conference record, and at least 20 wins, which has been very predictive of NCAA Tournament teams from the conference, and would probably do what it takes.

So, here's what is left:

@ Kansas
@ Colorado
@ Okie St.
@ Texas
@ Iowa St.
Texas Tech
@ aTm
Kansas St.
@ Mizzou

Can you find 8 wins in there?


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