By Kyle Beery

Selection Sunday is less than a week away, and it’s time to start getting a feel for teams around the country. I’ll be writing a series of posts to give fans a snapshot of each “Power Conference” team that has a shot of making the NCAA Tournament — as well as a handful of mid-major teams.

I’ll look at each team’s best wins and worst losses, a key stat for each team, and a wild-card fact to know about each squad. Check back all the way up until the tournament tips off, as posts will be updated periodically to reflect most recent results.


Kansas Jayhawks (28-3 overall, 16-2 ACC) — No. 2 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: Baylor (No. 6 RPI) twice; at Kentucky (No. 7); *Duke (No. 14); West Virginia (No. 22); at Iowa State (No. 27)
Worst losses: *Indiana (No. 87); Iowa State (No. 27); at West Virginia (No. 22)

The Jayhawks’ 16 wins against the RPI top 100 are second in the country, only to Butler (17). With only three losses — the worst of which came in the first game of the season against an Indiana team ranked No. 11 in the AP Preseason Top 25 — and that many solid wins, the Jayhawks are vying for the No. 1 overall seed.

Key stat

Kansas ranks fifth in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency, scoring 121.2 points per 100 possessions. This is one of the most potent offenses in the country, led by a mix of freshmen and veterans.


Frank Mason III is a top candidate for the Wooden Award, averaging 20.5 points per game. Mason has evolved as a player over the last four years to become the best senior in the country, and he looks poised to break a four-year Final Four drought, which seems like an eternity in Lawrence.

Baylor Bears (25-6 overall, 12-6 ACC) — No. 6 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: *Louisville (No. 3); Oregon (No. 8); West Virginia (No. 22); *VCU (No. 23); Iowa State (No. 27)
Worst losses: at Texas Tech (No. 107); Kansas State (No. 57)

The Bears have put together a nice resume this season, posting a 9-4 record against the RPI top 50 and 14-5 against the top 100. They started 15-0 and reached No. 1 in the AP Poll before losing at West Virginia.

The loss at Texas Tech is what’s holding Baylor back from holding a 2-seed, or even contending for a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Bears will be able to make their case this week in the Big 12 Tournament.

Key stat

The Bears are a pretty sound defensive team. Baylor ranks 13th in effective field goal percentage defensively, allowing its opponents to shoot 44.9 percent. EFG% gives more weight to made three-pointers with this formula:

(three-point field goals made * .5) + field goals made / field goals attempted


Jonathan Motley led the Big 12 in rebounds (10 per game) and was third in scoring (17.3 PPG). He is also a solid defender, averaging 1.1 blocks per game to help patrol the paint with teammate Jo Lual-Acuil, who led the Big 12 with 2.6 blocks per game.

West Virginia Mountaineers (24-7 overall, 12-6 ACC) — No. 22 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: Kansas (No. 2); Baylor (No. 6); at Virginia (No. 16); Iowa State (No. 27) twice
Worst losses: Oklahoma (No. 151); *Temple (No. 121); at Texas Tech (107)

West Virginia went 6-3 against the RPI top 50 and 12-4 against the top 100. The Mountaineers let what would have been another major resume-booster slip away when they saw Kansas erase a 14-point deficit with under four minutes to play in Lawrence on Feb. 13. For the sheer magnitude of the letdown, that one could even be thrown in the “bad losses” category.

The Mountaineers also have three losses against teams outside the RPI top 100. That is without a doubt keeping them from being in the 2-3-seed range.

Key stat

We’ve all heard the mantra. Press Virginia. Bob Huggins’ team runs a full-court press, and that causes teams absolute fits. The Mountaineers force turnovers on 28.8 percent of their defensive possessions, according to kenpom, which ranks tops in the entire country.

They average 21.2 turnovers per game, also the best mark in the country. The next closest power conference team is St. John’s, which averages 15.5 per game.


We’ve all also heard this mantra: “you always press a pressing team.” To an extent, that can be true. That was certainly true for Kansas in their miraculous comeback, as the Mountaineers struggled mightily with pressure.

Teams hoping to knock off West Virginia in the NCAA Tournament can’t live and die by that adage, though. But you know Huggins has his team practice against the press every day — even if it is against the second unit — and they, in theory, should know how to handle a press.

Iowa State Cyclones (20-10 overall, 12-6 ACC) — No. 27 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: at Kansas (No. 2); Baylor (No. 6); Oklahoma State (35) twice; *Miami (FL) (41)
Worst losses: at Texas (No. 169); at TCU (79); at Iowa (No. 72)

Iowa State wasn’t garnering too much attention early on in the season, even into February. But then the Cyclones knocked off Kansas and things changed. They won seven of their last nine games, including the win over the Jayhawks, as well as one against Baylor.

With an 8-9 mark against the RPI top 100, Iowa State has compiled a very solid resume. The Cyclones came very close to adding two more great wins, losing their other two games against the Jayhawks and Bears by a combined six points.

Key stat

The Cyclones take very good care of the ball, turning it over on just 14 percent of their possessions, which ranks third in the country. Point guard Monte Morris has control of this team, and he turns it over just once per game, owning a 6.1 assist-to-turnover ratio.


Morris (16.2 PPG) isn’t the only scoring threat for the Cyclones. Nazareth Mitrou-Long puts up 16.0 per game and shoots 39 percent from three-point range. The team as a whole shoots 39.9 percent from deep, ranking in the top 15 nationally.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-11 overall, 9-9 ACC) — No. 35 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: at West Virginia (22); at Wichita State (28); Arkansas (29)
Worst losses: at Texas (No. 169); Kansas State (No. 58)

Oklahoma State went 3-9 against the RPI top 50, but made up for it by going 17-2 in all of its other games.

The Cowboys will get a second crack at Iowa State in a matter of 10 days when they face off in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. If they were to beat the Cyclones, it would be their first win against a top-50 team since early February.

Key stat

The Cowboys own the most efficient offense in the country, according to kenpom. Their 125 points per 100 possessions, adjusted to competition, rank tops in the entire NCAA.

While offense is their strong point, defense is the complete opposite. The Cowboys’ adjusted defensive efficiency (102.4) ranks outside the top 120 in the land.


The Cowboys have lost two in a row heading into the postseason after riding a five-game win streak. Their potent offense makes them a force to be reckoned with throughout March, but they will have to show up on the defensive end of the floor to make a run.

Kansas State Wildcats (19-12 overall, 8-10 ACC) — No. 58 RPI

Best wins/worst losses

Best wins: at Baylor (No. 6); West Virginia (No. 22); at Oklahoma State (No. 35)
Worst losses: at Oklahoma (N0. 151); at Texas Tech (No. 107); TCU (No. 79)

Kansas State is the only bubble team in the Big 12, trying to make it a six-bid league. While the Wildcats struggled against the RPI top 50 (3-8), it’s not those games that are dragging them down. It’s the bad losses.

They suffered four losses outside the top 50 and had three more games against bad teams that were decided by one possession. Sure, there is no such thing as a bad win or a good loss, but there is such a thing as the eye-test, and at times Kansas State hasn’t even come close to passing it. They’ll need a win or two in the Big 12 Tournament to have a shot at getting in the Big Dance.

Key stat

Much of the Wildcats’ struggles can be derived from their ball security issues. They turn the ball over on 19.3 percent of their possessions and average 13 turnovers a game.


Aside from two seniors with relatively big roles, Bruce Weber’s team is very young. That could come into play this postseason. They are pretty experienced and have struggled against quality, more veteran opponents.


Make sure to check out my bracketology projections and keep tabs on the rest of the March Madness Snapshot series: ACCBig Ten | Big East