Cougars Will Fall Just Short

Brad Burckel
Cougar 2nd baseman Brad Burckel


The Cougars continue to slip down projections. But we believe they are already out.

GoCoogs has been studying the NCAA Tournament projections for a few weeks. Thursday morning, we told you that the Cougars aren’t going to make it despite BA and D1 continually saying they would.
But in their most recent updates, published Saturday morning, both BA and D1 have dropped UH to the last team in the field. By tomorrow, both projections will have the Coogs out.
It’s a numbers game – if this were March Madness, with 68 teams, we’d be in the play-in game. As it stands, we’ll most likely be one of the last four out. Here’s why:

  • If either Cincinnati or UCF win the AAC tourney, we’re out. D1 and BA have UCF in but by them winning, that would push us down. A Wichita State win might help us (more below).

  • BC is 53 in the RPI and, if they win today and go to ACC final, they are likely a bid stealer.

  • TCU is still alive but would need to beat Baylor (suspended from last night, it’s 5-2 TCU in 8th). Then they’d need to beat Oklahoma State twice today to reach final. That would be a stolen bid.

    It’s a numbers game – if this were March Madness, with 68 teams, we’d be in the play-in game.

  • Either Ohio State or Minnesota will play for Big Ten title – each is a bid stealer with a tournament title.

  • If Cal Poly beats UC-Santa Barbara today, they tie for the Big West title and will win the tie-breaker (Big West does not have a tournament). With an RPI of 123, Poly would definitely steal a bid. In fact, someone would move from a four-seed to a three-seed if the Mustangs win.

  • Southern Miss is 52 in RPI but has 22 league wins in C-USA. I think they steal a bid with a win over Rice today (they have 2 chances). Both projections have them out.

  • Nevada and UNLV play this afternoon and the winner of that game will need 2 wins over Fresno to steal a four-seed.

  • Arizona (46 RPI) has won two games in Pullman on the final weekend of Pac-12 play. They are now 14-14 in the league but 3-16 vs. Q1. Does a win today and above-.500 in the conference steal a bid? I’m not sure. They are out in both prjections.

  • D1 says Texas State, with a 51 RPI, is in but there’s no way the Southland is getting 2 bids. By going 0-2 in their tournament, Texas State is out. D1 has them in.

The Cougars are 43rd in the RPI but finished 12-14 in the AAC including losses in 4 of the last 5. From studying the last few years of this, conference records matter quite a bit to the selection committee. Sub-.500 teams don’t make it from the fifth-best conference.
Go deeper: In each of the last two years, teams have made it into the field under-.500 in their conference. But in each case, the team was in the #1 RPI conference that season (Baylor & OU 2017, A&M 2018) and had a top-25 RPI of their own. That math might change this year out of necessity but it would be hard for it to aid the Coogs.
Houston is probably going to finish 42-45 in the RPI and in the 5th best league.
Yes, there’s a scintilla of a chance that UH makes it but the Cougars would need a lot of things to break our way. All of the bid stealers would need to lose and the Shockers probably have to win the AAC. Our three road wins at Wichita would look better than ever.

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