Every year, one or two otherwise worthy teams will miss the NCAAs because of a poor OOC schedule and some others will get a lower seed than they’d like. This year, some teams have already identified themselves as teams that will be affected by a weak slate.
In danger of missing the tournament:
Florida State – Despite an AP ranking, the Noles have zero Group One wins and the 201st-ranked OOC schedule. A sterling OOC record really didn’t help much.
Creighton – The Bluejays managed to beat UCLA in Kansas City, but that was their only Group One win to go with a 206th-ranked OOC schedule. How UCLA performs this year could end up being a deciding factor for the Jays, but my guess is they raise their game in Big East play and end up between an 8-10 seed in the NCAAs.
Boston College – Handing Duke their only loss so far is great. But their OOC schedule? Brutal. With no good wins out of league play, they’ll have to show very well in ACC play to overcome a 260th-ranked non-league slate.
Mississippi State – The Bulldogs have just one loss, but they have no notable wins. A 300th-ranked OOC slate will spell doom unless they leave no doubt they are tournament-worthy in SEC play.
Virginia Tech – Buzz Williams has a team capable of returning to the NCAAs for a second consecutive season, but like Mississippi State, they’ll need to leave no doubt in conference play to secure a bid. With a 266th-ranked OOC schedule, they better hope Washington can sneak into the top 50 to give them at least one non-conference Group One win to offset the brutal neutral court loss to Saint Louis.
Kansas State – I have no doubt KSU is a tournament quality team, but their 287th-ranked non-conference schedule leaves them zero OOC Group One or Two wins and one bad loss (Tulsa). Like last year, I expect the Wildcats to win so many tough games in Big XII play to make field. But it won’t be easy.
Baylor – The Bears are ranked in the AP Poll, but are in serious tournament danger. Baylor has zero Group One wins and their 293rd-ranked OOC schedule is going to be cannon fodder for the committee. Baylor is good enough to make the field, but their non-conference slate put them at such a disadvantage that I’m going to predict them to miss the NCAAs altogether.
Worse seed than they expect:
Cincinnati – Get ready for Mick Cronin to tell the media that his Bearcats are underseeded. Despite two Group One wins in OOC play, the Bearcats still have a 206th-ranked OOC schedule. And one of those Group One wins is Buffalo, which should end up being downgraded to a Group Two win by March. Considering the lack of quality win opportunities in AAC play, look for Cincinnati to once again pair a strong overall record with a non-protected seed.