Wichita State: 31-0 is likely, BPI says

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BPI says Wichita State is a heavy favorite to win Saturday and finish its regular season unbeaten.ESPN’s Basketball Power Index rates teams using a system that takes into account factors such as the pace of a game, margin of victory, game site and absence of key players.

In addition, BPI can be used to make projections of each team’s chance of winning a specific matchup. The team with the higher chance to win according to BPI has won about 73 percent of the time this season.

Here is a preview of five of this weekend’s matchups, examined using information produced by BPI (through games of Feb. 27):

BPI No. 126 Missouri State at 5 Wichita State (Saturday, 2 ET on ESPN)

BPI Projection: Wichita State 97 percent likely to win

Missouri State extended Wichita State to overtime in their first meeting, but BPI doesn’t project the Shockers to suffer their first loss in their regular-season finale. Their closest margin of victory at home has been nine points, and that was to a BPI Top 40 team (Tennessee).

BPI No. 7 Syracuse at 12 Virginia (Saturday, 4 ET on ESPN)

BPI Projection: Virginia 61 percent likely to win

Of Virginia’s four best performances by BPI Game Score this season, two were in the team’s last two games. The importance of game site is evident in this matchup: Syracuse would be projected as 68 percent likely to win if the game were at the Carrier Dome.

BPI No. 3 Kansas at 20 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 9 ET on ESPN)

BPI Projection: Kansas 58 percent likely to win

Oklahoma State lost to Kansas by two points on Jan. 18 in Lawrence, Kan., earning the third-best Game Score of the season by a losing team. The Cowboys, who broke a seven-game losing streak on Feb. 22, are the third-most inconsistent team in the BPI Top 20, whereas Kansas is the sixth-most consistent team among the Top 20.

BPI No. 25 Saint Louis at No. 21 VCU (Saturday, 6 ET on ESPN2)

BPI Projection: VCU 67 percent likely to win

This game offers a sharp contrast between BPI and the perception of media members who vote in The Associated Press poll. Saint Louis (which was 19th in BPI before Thursday’s loss to Duquesne) is ranked 10th in the AP rankings, and VCU is not among the 33 teams that received votes this week. Although the Rams have seven losses, all have been away from the Rams’ home court, and two (by a total of seven points) are to BPI Top 30 teams. The Rams’ strength of schedule ranks 20 spots higher than the Billikens’.

BPI No. 22 Cincinnati at No. 24 Connecticut (Saturday, Noon ET on ESPN)

BPI Projection: Connecticut 63 percent likely to win

Cincinnati won the first meeting of the season, beating the visiting Huskies by five points on Feb. 6. That is among nine games against BPI Top 50 teams the Bearcats have played (5-4). Last Saturday, a close game (decided by five points or fewer) finally went against the Bearcats; their 58-57 loss to Louisville made them 6-1 in such games. Connecticut is 5-5 against Top 50 teams, including a one-point win over No. 2 Florida in early December.