Bracketology: NCAA Bid Case for Baylor vs. Providence

Doug Upstone

Friday, February 23, 2018 2:54 PM UTC

Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 2:54 PM UTC

Our look at bracketology continues with two teams, Baylor and Providence, from what are thought to be the two best conferences in the country, the Big 12 and Big East. Both schools have double-digit loss totals and need strong finishes.

If you review the college basketball odds on futures below, the chances of each team winning the championship do not in any way correlate to their RPI rankings. The substantial difference comes into play because Baylor played six non-lined contests compared to just two for Providence.

Bracket boys Joe Lunardi (ESPN) and Jerry Palm (CBS) both have Baylor as "Last Four Out." Lunardi has Providence in the same group, while Palm has the Friars already in as 10 seed. KenPom.com has the teams' rating flipped, with the Bears 37th and Providence all the way down to 74th.

Baylor Bears

Conference: Big 12 (1st according to Sagarin Ratings)

Record: 17-11 SU (13-8 ATS)

Current RPI: 61

Best Wins: Kansas and Texas Tech (at home)

Worst Losses: @Iowa State

5Dimes Odds To Win NCAA Tournament: +20000

NCAA Tournament History: 13-13

Key Games Remaining: All -- @TCU, Oklahoma and @K-State

Assembling prolonged winning streaks in the Big 12 this season is very difficult. Nonetheless, Baylor had won five in a row but was beaten Tuesday 71-60 by West Virginia at home and played one of its worst halves of the season in the loss. Coach Scott Drew's squad needs an immediate reboot. That will require a 3-0 finish, which would mean two important road wins vs. teams already presumed in the field of 72. With a 2-7 (5-4 ATS) road record, that would appear to be a tall order.

If Baylor were to finish 1-2, it would need a fantastic finish in the Big 12 tournament. Anything less than an appearance in the finals would leave open the possibility the Bears could be relegated to NIT status.

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Providence Friars

Conference: Big East (2nd)

Record: 17-10 SU (9-16 ATS)

Current RPI: 35

Best Wins: Villanova and Xavier (at home)

Worst Losses: Massachusetts and DePaul

5Dimes Odds To Win NCAA Tournament: +50000

NCAA Tournament History: 14-20

Key Games Remaining: @Xavier

Providence is in a strange position in the Big East. Depending on how the Friars play the rest of the regular season, they could finish anywhere from third to seventh in the conference. One would not think they would win at Xavier, though it is not impossible. That would make it necessary to win at Georgetown and in the home finale against St. John's.

When taking an overview of Providence's season, it leans to the disappointing side, as the Friars brought back their top seven scorers from last year. There is no doubt there are some very good offenses in the Big East. Yet, Providence has permitted better than 50 percent shooting to opposing teams in their past eight outings, and that is not how you find a path to the Big Dance.

Who Has Stronger Case and Gets In?

No question this is a difficult choice for NCAA basketball picks. Because Providence has a higher RPI and a more user-friendly schedule remaining, it gets the nod. If the Friars could finish in the Top 4 of the Big East, that would mean they would they just need one victory to reach the semifinal round of the conference tournament, which would an easier path.

Nevertheless, Providence is only 3-6 (same ATS record) on the road, and if it loses to Georgetown and Xavier over the next week, that will curtail the Friars' chances. If Baylor had a better road record, it would be easier to back the Bears; thus, it seems they have to almost perfect unless others around them falter.

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