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Former NFL coach Bill Parcells once said “You’re only as good as you’re record shows,” and Murray State is 9-0.

But while that may be true in the NFL, where the seasons are only 16 games long, and there are only 32 teams, college basketball is a much different beast. Double the length of the seasons, and over 10 times as many teams.

In other words, not all undefeated teams are equal.

So where do the Racers fall?

Murray State is one of 15 undefeated teams remaining in Division I. Who else is on the list? 10 Major conference teams, and 4 other Mid-Majors.

  • Harvard (8-0)
  • Ohio State (8-0)
  • Syracuse (8-0)
  • Louisville (7-0)
  • Kentucky (8-0)
  • Marquette (7-0)
  • Xavier (6-0)
  • Creighton (7-0)
  • Kansas State (5-0)
  • Illinois (8-0)
  • Baylor (7-0)
  • Indiana (8-0)
  • Missouri (7-0)
  • Tulane (9-0)

For purposes of this discussion, I’m simply going to compare the Racers to these other 14. Does this mean that the Racers are better than every 1 or 2 loss team? No. But we wouldn’t be having this discussion if Murray State had 1 or 2 losses, and the same goes for many of these teams as well. When’s the last time anyone noticed Harvard basketball? (Don’t answer that.)

The first mark of how strong you are as a undefeated team is to look at how strong your opponents are. Thankfully, the RPI takes care of this for me with a Strength of Schedule rating. But it doesn’t paint the Racers 9-0 record as especially impressive:

  1. Marquette (17)
  2. Syracuse (22)
  3. Louisville (28)
  4. Kentucky (52)
  5. Ohio State (94)
  6. Harvard (103)
  7. Creighton (127)
  8. Kansas State (140)
  9. Missouri (142)
  10. Xavier (144)
  11. Illinois (155)
  12. Murray State (238)
  13. Indiana (243)
  14. Baylor (298)
  15. Tulane (338)

So why is the Racers SOS ranking so low?  Of the Racers 9 wins, 3 were against teams outside of NCAA Division I (Harris Stowe, Tennessee Temple, Alaska Anchorage)  Another issue: Teams that the Racers have played that were supposed to be good, just haven’t been. Last season, UAB was 22-9, and a top 50 RPI team. This season: 1-6, with a loss to UT Martin as well as the Racers. Morgan State, the Bracketbuster return game for the Racers, are 0-7; The Hilltoppers are 3-6, Dayton is 5-3 after a loss this past Sunday. It doesn’t matter how good teams are supposed to be, it matters how good they are.

Another problem falls with the Racers “opponents SOS,” which is 333rd, 12th worst in the nation. Not only are the Racers opponents not winning, they’re losing to bad teams.

Tempo-free statistics are becoming more popular this season, and for good reason: It gives us a way to compare teams without having to be concerned with the number of possessions each team has in a game. We’ll start with offensive efficiency, which is essentially the number of points scored per possession. Here, the Racers fare a bit better, but not much:

  1. Missouri (1.25)
  2. Creighton (1.21)
  3. Indiana (1.18)
  4. Syracuse (1.16)
  5. Ohio State (1.16)
  6. Marquette (1.15)
  7. Kentucky (1.13)
  8. Baylor (1.10)
  9. Murray State (1.09)
  10. Illinois (1.08)
  11. Tulane (1.05)
  12. Kansas State (1.04)
  13. Xavier (1.03)
  14. Harvard (1.02)
  15. Louisville (1.02)

A note about these ratings. Although they’re 9th on the list, they’re 36th in the nation. But if you listen to head coach Steve Prohm, he wants the Racers to be a defensively team. So, defensive efficiency is a much more important statistic to him. But again, the Racers don’t impress.

  1. Tulane (0.75)
  2. Ohio State (0.76)
  3. Louisville (0.76)
  4. Baylor (0.77)
  5. Kansas State (0.79)
  6. Kentucky (0.79)
  7. Marquette (0.80)
  8. Syracuse (0.82)
  9. Missouri (0.83)
  10. Indiana (0.84)
  11. Illinois (0.85)
  12. Xavier (0.85)
  13. Harvard (0.85)
  14. Murray State (0.95)
  15. Creighton (0.95)

We've seen this look a few times before from head coach Steve Prohm when his team is on defense

The rank is one thing, but look at the drop off from Harvard to Murray. Harvard is 13th on the list, but tied for 21st in the nation. Murray State? Tied for 127th. Not even in the top third of teams.

This really shouldn’t be surprising. The Racers haven’t exactly blown teams out this year, instead clingling onto close wins. Thankfully, the Racers are hitting 79.5% from the free throw line, 5th in the nation.

There is one more area that the Racers have excelled, and it’s one I’ve pointed out all season long. The Racers are 4th in the nation in turnovers forced per game, behind only Syracuse in the list of undefeated teams. (Tied for 15th in the nation if you use the tempo free equivalent, 3rd for undefeated teams.) But it doesn’t do any good if you turn over the ball yourself. Here’s where things kind of fall apart again. The Racers are 214th in the nation in turnover rate, despite just having 12+ turnovers a game.

A lot of Racer fans are clamoring for top-25 votes this week. But it may be a bit premature.  If they beat Memphis on the road to move to 10-0, then I can see a legitimate claim for votes. But today? It’s hard to make that claim. Not yet, anyway.

But in all this analysis, I guess I forgot the most common way we compare teams: RPI.

  1. Marquette (3)
  2. Syracuse (5)
  3. Louisville (6)
  4. Kentucky (7)
  5. Ohio State (14)
  6. Harvard (17)
  7. Creighton (22)
  8. Kansas State (28)
  9. Missouri (29)
  10. Xavier (30)
  11. Illinois (34)
  12. Murray State (57)
  13. Indiana (58)
  14. Baylor (83)
  15. Tulane (147)

So it could be worse. The Racers could be Tulane.

(All statistics come from BBState, and were pulled on December 5th at 9 a.m.)

  1. Dan:
    Much will be learned on Sunday. Should the Racers come out with a win, speculation will start on what their win total will be for the year. A sound defeat and it's back to basics and concentrating on winning the conference and the tournament.
OVC Ball
Compiling all OVC non-conference games

2016 Football Standings

OVC Overall
Jacksonville State 7-0 10-2
UT Martin 6-2 7-5
Tennessee Tech 5-3 5-6
Tennessee State 4-3 7-4
Eastern Illinois 4-4 6-5
Murray State 4-4 4-7
SEMO 3-5 3-8
Eastern Kentucky 2-6 3-8
Austin Peay 0-8 0-11

2016-17 Basketball Standings

OVC Overall


Belmont 15-1 23-7
Morehead State 10-6 14-16
Jacksonville State 9-7 20-15
Tennessee State 8-8 17-13
Tennessee Tech 8-8 12-20
Eastern Kentucky 5-11 12-19


UT Martin 10-6 22-13
SEMO 9-7 15-18
Murray State 8-8 16-17
Austin Peay 7-9 11-19
Eastern Illinois 6-10 14-15
SIUE 1-15 6-24