A friend tells me the Olympics are over. I'm going to have to take his word for it. If it's true, this is good news. Now MSNBC can go back to airing its compelling shows on true crime and politics and sometimes a blending of the two.
Contrary to what the panic button within you might be screaming, the Kansas University basketball season is not over. Saturday's debacle was an unsightly execution, even by Texas standards, but the Jayhawks will come back to life the way they did when they read their obituaries after starting the season 3-4. They responded to that by going 17-2 to earn a No. 16 ranking in the Associated Press poll, the only one that matters.
They'll drop a few notches after looking so overmatched in the 80-55 loss to a Texas team that had defeated projected No. 1 seeds Villanova and Memphis and appears bound for a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
So where does that leave KU as far as a likely seeding? Fortunately, those in the know seem convinced the tournament-selection committee is no longer as enamored of the bad RPI computer ranking (found at kenpom.com) as it was several years ago.
Surely, the Jayhawks' 42 RPI doesn't mean they are in danger of getting a No. 9 seed. Unfortunately, the selection committee does not put any stock in the superior Sagarin computer rankings carried by USA Today.
In that, KU is ranked 17th, which translates to the best No. 5 seed.
Sagarin also computes an even better indicator it calls "pure points" and accurately boasts the system is the "best single predictor of future games." It uses victory margins, not just strength of schedule. Even after losing to Texas by 25 points, Kansas remains sixth in the nation in that ranking.
A local math whiz e-mails that last year he filled out his bracket by advancing the team ranked higher in the "pure points" column and won the office pool.
Try winning an office pool by advancing the team with the higher RPI. Better yet, just donate your money to charity. It's time for the RPI to RIP. Consider what teams rank ahead of KU in the RPI: 23. George Mason; 25. Wichita State; 31. Northern Iowa; 32. Creighton; 36. UNC Wilmington; 37. Hofstra; 38. Bucknell; 39. Air Force; 40. Southern Illinois; 41. Kentucky.
Pretty ridiculous, huh?
The only teams, pardon me, schools, (the NCAA prefers this terminology, and don't forget to call the tourney participants "student athletes," instead of "players") that rank ahead of KU in the pure points system: 1. Duke; 2. UConn; 3. Texas; 4. Villanova; 5. Memphis.
Now that's more like it.
Let's suppose KU wins its final two regular-season games and two more, including one over Oklahoma, to get to the finals of the Big 12 tourney and loses to Texas. The Jayhawks would have an 8-2 record in their final 10 games, a 6-5 mark against teams in the RPI top 50 and a 9-6 road/neutral record. Its marquee victories would be a pair against Oklahoma. Its worst losses, by RPI standards, would be at Missouri (130) and at home to Kansas State (103).
The Jayhawks would be considered a hot team, especially if they gave the Longhorns a game the next time, and likely would be seeded 4 or 5, perhaps setting up a second-round showdown with North Carolina.