Murray State: Undefeated But Overrated [Top 25 Breakdown]

posted in NCAA Basketball

The newest AP and Coaches polls were released today, with the top 5 in both polls remaining unchanged.

Take a look at our College Basketball Polls Comparison page, and you’ll see that the top 5 most underrated and overrated schools according to our NCAA basketball predictive power ratings also contain some familiar faces.

Underrated/Overrated Report

Last week we highlighted Mississippi State as the most overrated team in the land, and pointed out that Indiana was among the more underrated squads, along with St. Mary’s and Wisconsin. Here are the results for those highlighted teams over the past seven days:

St. Mary’s: Won vs San Diego
Wisconsin: Won at Penn State, Lost vs Ohio St
Indiana: Lost at Michigan, Won at Purdue

Mississippi State: Won vs Auburn

At first it might look like the Underrateds had a worse week — they did, after all, lose 2 of their 6 games. But closer inspection reveals that Indiana was actually an underdog in both their games — they beat expectations in their 17-point road win over Purdue, and their loss to Michigan was a forgivable one away from home against a top 25 team. Likewise, Wisconsin’s loss to Ohio State was as an underdog, and certainly nothing to be embarrassed about.

On the other hand, Mississippi State squeaked by #123 Auburn at home by only three points in a game where they were favored by 11.5.

The Bulldogs remain the most overrated team in America, though the San Diego State Aztecs are close behind. A bit less overrated, but still getting more respect than they deserve, are the Murray State Racers. Does anybody really think the Racers are better than Michigan State (for example)?

Overrated: San Diego State Aztecs

People’s inflated opinions of the Aztecs can be explained fairly simply. SDSU is 8-1 in games decided by 5 points or less, and ranks #1 in the nation in our Luck Rankings. The Luck Rankings measure how many extra wins a team has recorded compared to what we’d expect given their predictive rating — or how badly we’re underrating them, depending on who you ask.

San Diego State also leads the Mountain West by a game thanks to a two-point home win over UNLV. The Runnin’ Rebels will get a chance to even up the conference race next weekend, as they host the Aztecs on Saturday.

Overrated: Murray State

Right behind SDSU in the Luck Rankings are the Racers of Murray State.

Everyone knows that Murray State is the lone remaining unbeaten team, and so they assume the Racers must be dominating the Ohio Valley Conference.

They are in first, yes, but they’ve won by double digits barely half the time against an in-conference strength of schedule that ranks only 303rd-toughest. They’ve also been forced to come back from halftime deficits twice in the last five games, against #212 Morehead State and #246 SE Missouri.

We’re not saying the Racers are a bad team, but they aren’t one of the ten best in Division I basketball.

To see our complete list of underrated and overrated teams, be sure to check out the College Basketball Polls Comparison page.

  • Mike Sullivan

    David —  Given this article, what is the value/meaning of the Team Rankings “Overall Ranking” — Murray State #8 on 2/7?

  • David Hess

    Mike — The difference between our various rankings are explained in this blog post:

    To summarize, the Predictive Ratings use margin of victory as the main input, and are the best at picking the better team and predicting future games. The Win Ratings ignore margin of victory, so are not as good at predicting games, but they rewards wins and losses, which some people like to do. And Overall is a blend of the two.

  • Pattimigaine

    The rating is high but, you still have to play the game and any team can over achieve when put to the task. Give credit where credit is due, Murray is a quality team and on any given night they could beat anyone. Remember villi nova in the NCAA finals or north carolin state. Let’s play the games before we predict who is better then someone else. Remember a good team will win the close ones and Murray has done that. Murray does have quality players and they didn’t recruit players with booster involvement ask some of the larger programs what it cost them to be ranked. Murray ranking is based of wins, team wins.

    Msu graduate 1970 class.


    True, if we had a metric of Wins Per Booster Dollar, Murray State would certainly rank near the top!