Regardless of how good or bad your favorite college is during any given basketball season, even the most casual of sports fans find themselves tuning into the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament every year.
The thrilling upsets, the Cinderella stories and the company-wide bracket pools make it uniquely interesting to watch even without having a dog in the fight.
But it’s always a little bit more fun when you do.
Luckily for LSU fans, the Tigers have put themselves in a good position to make the tournament again this season. Will Wade’s crew has compiled a 14-7 (9-5 SEC) record, which is good enough for third in the conference and all but secures them a spot in the big dance.
Now the magical question is where LSU will land?
Most recently, bracket experts have the Tigers pegged as either a 7 or an 8 seed in the tournament, with a little bit of wiggle room to rise or drop a couple more spots depending on how the final week of the season goes, as well as the conference tournament.
LSU plays No. 20 Arkansas on the road Saturday, which is a big opportunity for the Tigers to add another ranked win to their resume. The Razorbacks are currently 18-5 (10-4) and sit one spot ahead of LSU in the SEC.
The Tigers then close out their season against Vanderbilt and Missouri—neither of which would be considered a marquee win, but losing could be damaging.
It’s all a guessing game at this juncture, but one stat to keep your eye on that could be an indicator of where LSU might land is the NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) rankings.
If you followed the tournament in the past, you may have heard of the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) being used to rank teams. The NET is essentially just a new and improved version of the RPI and consists of several factors: a team’s winning percentage, the average opponent’s win percentage, the average opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage, strength of schedule, score margin, etc.
Long story short, it takes in a lot of factors, runs it through its algorithm and spits out a fairly reliable ranking. As of Friday morning, LSU at No. 29 in the NET, while Arkansas is slightly ahead at 21. A win over the Razorbacks would help move the Tigers even higher up the national board.
This would be the second time LSU has made it into the NCAA Tournament under Wade’s tutelage after making it to the Sweet 16 in 2019, although the Tigers were destined to make it last year before COVID-19 ended the season early.
So far Wade has seen positive progression every season in Baton Rouge. His first season, the Tigers didn’t make the tournament. They made the Sweet 16 his second year in charge, and last year was cut short.
This year’s Tigers have had a mix of some really high highs as well as a few tough low points. Whatever happens moving forward, it should be a fun and exciting ride.