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We’re nearly a month into the college basketball season, and for most teams more than halfway through non-conference play. But, records don’t tell the entire story.

(Looking at you, Tennessee Tech)

Through December 3rd, here are the current team records, and SOS rank (out of 351 teams) according to KenPom, sorted by the strength of schedule:

TeamRecordSOS Rank (Conf.)
Belmont5-3105th (1)
Murray State5-3109th (2)
Austin Peay3-5115th (3)
Eastern Illinois1-4124th (4)
SEMO0-6130th (5)
UTM2-6166th (6)
Jacksonville State3-7209th (7)
Tennessee State4-2220th (8)
SIUE1-5225th (9)
Morehead State5-1298th (10)
Tennessee Tech6-2342nd (11)
Eastern Kentucky6-2343rd (12)

A few quick takeaways:

I’m not sure I can fully buy into the “East is better than the West again” narrative through the first month. Sure, the East has by far the best combined record, but two of those in particular, EKU and TTU, have played virtually nobody — both schedules rank among the 10 easiest in the nation. Six wins is great by any measure out of the first eight games, but it’s worth noting that the Colonels are 0-2 against the KenPom top-150, and the Golden Eagles have played just one game against the KenPom top-200, that 13-point loss at New Mexico State.

…but, that being said, at least the East is winning games they should be winning. SIUE has two losses against teams outside the top-200, Austin Peay and UT Martin have a pair, and SEMO? Well, we’ll get to them.

At 0-3, I said it was too early to worry about Eastern Illinois. At 1-4, it’s still too early — all five Panthers opponents rank in the top-200, and unlike most of the rest of the conference, the Panthers first game against an Non-Division I opponent doesn’t come until December 28th. Their next two: at home against Northern Kentucky and on the road against Marshall are, statistically, their easiest games yet.

I had zero doubt Belmont would be atop the SOS list to this point in the season. I was somewhat surprised to see Murray State second. They’ve played a lot of good mid-major teams, although not necessarily “big” names, and that trend continues throughout December. In fact — the only sub-200 ranked teams left on their schedule are in conference foes.

Sure, Southeast Missouri has played a challenging slate — but they also played UT Rio Grande Valley, a bottom-10 ranked team, and lost by nine on the road. Alabama A&M is ranked 267th, Loyola Marymount 259th, both of which were double-digit point losses. At the beginning of the year, KenPom had the Redhawks pegged at 8-8 in the conference. Now? Just 5-11.



The NCAA has also just started releasing RPI numbers — it’s far too early to put too much stock into these, but here they are along with the KenPom rankings.

TeamNCAA RPI (Conf.)KenPom Rankings (Conf.)
Murray State32nd (1)180th (3)
Belmont87th (2)89th (1)
Eastern Kentucky168th (3)210th (4)
Tennessee Tech189th (4)260th (6)
Morehead State221st (5)119th (2)
Austin Peay228th (6)284th (8)
Tennessee State241st (7)239th (5)
Eastern Illinois258th (8)301st (9)
Southeast Missouri266th (9)326th (11)
UT Martin291st (10)280th (7)
SIUE295th (11)327th (12)
Jacksonville State311th (12)319th (10)

Again, I’d warn about putting to much into these — just look how much they differ for one. This early in the season, KenPom’s numbers are generally much more resistant to change, where as the RPI will have major fluctuations every day for the next two months.

  1. Bret:
    You have to remember EKU lost on a fluke shot to WKU.
    • Catlin Bogard:
      They did -- EKU's probably in a better position that TTU thanks in huge part to their offense. They're simply outscoring a lot of (not-all-that-great) teams right now. But, that's also the lower half of the OVC. I just worry a bit if they can keep up their shooting pace through an entire season.
  2. RickW:
    Not sure how you don't give a big edge to the East. It is a little early for all the stats but if you use Sagarin the results are solid in favor of a stronger East Division. I have always liked Sagarin and many years ago I liked the Dunkel, Listing the OVC by Sagarin: Belmont 85 Morehead 93 Murray 150 EKU 173 TTU 211 TSU 235 JSU 282 UTM 284 AP 287 SIUE 300 EIU 301 SEMO 323 I have watched every OVC team at least once and some more than that. The eye test more than supports the above. I hope the West comes around but I don't think it will change all that much which is very unfortunate for the league. Murray will have a skewed conference record but you can only play the teams on your schedule.
    • Catlin Bogard:
      Edge? Sure. Big edge? I dunno. Of course the East does better in the Sagarin (and RPI) -- they're winning more games. But that's kind of the point of this article. Give EIU's schedule to Eastern Kentucky, for instance, and they're not a 6-2 team. Part of the reason teams like TTU pass the "eye test" is because they're playing lesser competition.
  3. BP:
    RPI is a bit weird right now. Houston and Weber State both beat Murray by double digits, and they are 90th and 63rd respectively, yet Murray is 32nd. I think it might have a bit to do with just how tough Murray's schedule has ended up being. I mean, take a look at the current RPI of their opponents. Southern Illinois Weber State Middle Tennessee Georgia Evansville Houston Milwaukee Alabama A&M Illinois State Pepperdine Wright State That's about as tough a Murray State non-conf schedule as I have ever seen. There's not one game on there that'll be easy. That being said, I think Murray will get better, although I certainly don't agree with the 32nd ranking as of right now.
    • Anonymous:
      That didn't get formatted like I submitted it: 48 Southern Illinois, 63 Weber State, 73 Middle Tennessee, 74 Georgia, 77 Evansville, 90 Houston, 115 Milwaukee, 135 Alabama A&M, 166 Illinois State, 171 Pepperdine, 203 Wright State.
    • Catlin Bogard:
      Yeah -- for some reason, comments don't format at all. I haven't been able to figure that out yet. RPI is insanely weird, but it makes sense if you know the formula. Essentially it's just -- who you've beaten, and who they've beaten. It'll level out throughout December -- and Murray SOS gets much lower when they start conference play.
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