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Bedlam Bubble Battle: With 10 Regular Season Games to Go, This Bedlam Matchup Could Be All the More Important

OSU and OU square off at 8 p.m. Wednesday.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

STILLWATER — There might not be room in this town state NCAA Tournament for the Cowboys and Sooners.

Oklahoma State and Oklahoma play at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Lloyd Noble Center with both teams planted squarely on the bubble of The Big Dance. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Sooners as the last team in entering Monday. Meanwhile the Pokes are among the first four out. An OSU win (and Bedlam sweep) could flop the two in Tournament standing. A loss could make it all the more difficult for the Pokes to overtake the Sooners down this final 10-game stretch of the regular season.

“I don’t know if it can increase the importance [of Bedlam] more than than it already is,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “The bubble talk is still, in my mind, fairly early. Probably a couple of weeks from now I think there’ll be a little bit more clear a picture in two weeks. We’re not quite halfway through league play yet, so the truth of the matter, when you look through the league with 10 games remaining, there’s is 10 great opportunities to prove that you belong in that conversation, and you got to be ready to play well to garner that attention.

“So, I don’t put as much stock in the bubble talk at this point as much as I do it being a really important road game for us, one that certainly wouldn’t hurt as we move toward having those type of conversations.”

Although it still might be early to pencil in NCAA Tournament teams, it hasn’t felt as if both of the state schools have been in such a bubble scrap since the 2017-18 season, Mike Boynton’s first year.

That one somehow didn’t go in the Pokes’ favor after OSU went 2-1 against OU in the regular season, beating the Sooners in their final regular season tilt before beating them again at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. Both teams finished with 8-10 Big 12 records, but OSU got the nod in conference tournament seeding because of tiebreakers. But even after all of that, the committee decided it wanted to watch Trae Young and the Sooners, a team that lost eight of 10 entering the Tournament, get bounced in the first round by Rhode Island.

That was before the NET rankings were implemented. Back then, RPI was the fad. The final 2017-18 RPI ranking had OU at No. 53, and OSU at No. 83 — somehow.

The NET this season is more favorable to the Pokes entering this matchup. Entering Monday, Oklahoma State is ranked 43rd in the NET. OU is ranked 56th. The NET isn’t the end-all, be-all, but as one of the major metrics the committee looks at, that should fare better for the Pokes than what the RPI did back in 2017-18.

That’s further exemplified by how close these Bedlam teams are in the RPI compared to the NET entering Monday.

RPI NET Team Record Quad 1 Quad 2 Quad 3 Quad 4
64 43 Oklahoma State 12-9 2-6 2-2 3-1 5-0
63 56 Oklahoma 12-9 4-7 2-2 2-0 4-0

As most things described as a “metric,” the NET isn’t the easiest thing to understand. Here is an in-depth thing explaining it in further detail, but the differences between the RPI and the NET come down to the amount of components factored in. The RPI has three components: a team’s winning percentage, average opponent’s winning percentage and average opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage. The NET factors in game results, strength of schedule, game location, scoring margin, offensive and defensive efficiency, and quality of wins and losses.

It feels like a bunch of 1s and 0s. Enough for one to go crazy trying to keep track of, but for Boynton, the metric will take care of itself as long as his team plays well on the hardwood.

“I don’t know if I quite understand [the NET] yet,” Boynton said. “Here’s what I know: we play in the toughest league in the country, and so usually if you get to .500 in this league, you’ll be in pretty good shape for being able to continue to play good basketball. That’s not the goal, but that’s a real thing out there. I mean, we had a 7-11 team [Iowa State] in our conference make the Sweet 16 last year. So this league prepares you for the opportunity to compete in the national tournament. What the numbers go into it? I don’t know. It’s not something I look at daily. I’ll glance at it occasionally. I think our numbers are still fairly competitive with teams that are in that conversation. The most important thing you can do is prepare well, which gives you a chance to play well in these games.”

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