Saturday, February 4, 2012

ISU Basketball Rankings for 2/4/12

Today's effort will be a little more substantial than last week.  Most NCAA Tournament prognosticators have ISU making the field at around an 11 seed.  I believe it too.  The ceiling gets raised every week for Iowa State.  

Ken Pomeroy rankings
Rank - 37 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)
Aggregate projected record - 21-10 (11-7 in Big XII)

Sagarin rankings
Rank - 39 (6th out of 10 in the Big XII)
Record by projected wins and losses - 19-12 (9-9 in Big XII)

First, this is incredible.  The overall projected record was 14-17, which they've already surpassed.  Sagarin only had ISU winning 3 games in conference play.  How has Iowa State surpassed expectations?  First, predictions are all based, at least to start the year, on last year's team.  As pointed out here before, more than half of the minutes didn't return from 2010.  Secondly, 3 of this team's starters hadn't played real basketball in a year (or two).  Iowa State has improved throughout the year because the players are finding their roles.  And Fred Hoiberg has become more aggressive in his coaching.  Thirdly, the Cyclones have been able to limit their bad losses.

With tourney time coming up, the talk of bad losses and good wins have come up.  Obviously, any win should be considered good (especially for ISU!), but some are bigger than others.  But bad losses really hurt a team's stock. The only two that are bad according to the Sagarin ratings are Northern Iowa and Drake. ISU hasn't had a bad loss in conference play, which means their last one came on November 30th of last year.  When the losses happened isn't looked at by the committee, but I'd bet there aren't many teams that have gone that long without a bad loss.  The only good win so far was the Kansas victory at home.  Not very impressive, but with ISU ranked in the 30's now, they're supposed to win most of their games.

Every game is big now.  There are some opportunities for good wins (vs Baylor twice, Missouri, Kansas St on the road), perhaps more importantly, there are a couple games left that would be bad losses.  Fortunately, all three of these are at home, where Iowa State has looked really tough.  If they don't have any more bad losses and can pick up one more good win, they should be a lock for the tournament.

Finally, I've been meaning to point this out for a while now - Tyrus McGee is top 10 in the country in kenpom's offensive efficiency rating.  He's currently 6th but has been as high as 2nd.  He's certainly part of the reason the Cyclones are playing well down the stretch.  He should have the green light whenever he's on the court.

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