Syracuse received an at-large bid into the 2016 NCAA Tournament despite a 71st-ranked RPI. The Orange were the lowest-ranked team to ever earn an at-large bid and though they reached the Final Four, their inclusion in the field was highly controversial.
Use the promo code HeroSports to get your 50% Bonus
Oklahoma State entered Thursday's jam-packed conference tournament schedule ranked 85th in RPI, a whopping 14 spots below the 2016 Orange team. Undoubtedly, the Cowboys are playing like an at-large-caliber team, but following their loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, they are facing steep odds to earn a bid.
Oklahoma State won't play another game before Selection Sunday but their RPI will move up and down through Sunday's games. It's highly, highly unlikely to settle inside the top 75 and more likely to be around 85th. And while the NCAA Tournament selection committee has adjusted the selection process, adding metrics and emphasizing certain outcomes, they still rely heavily on the RPI. If they reached for Syracuse two years ago, sure, it's possible they could reach again, this time rewarding Oklahoma State for numerous high-end wins while largely ignoring an NAIA non-conference schedule.
Don't bet on them reaching this far.
Oklahoma State has the away wins the committee loves (e.g. Kansas, West Virginia) and no terrible losses the committee hates (worst losses are at home vs. Baylor and Kansas State). Still, the Cowboys would demolish the old record for lowest-ranked RPI for an at-large tourney team, which would be effectively admitting their selection process is not what they claim it to be.
No one would question whether Oklahoma State was a tournament team. They are a damn good team that, like Syracuse, could win four games. Everyone, however, would question whether they should've deserved a spot.
Sadly, one of the best stories of the season does not deserve to continue in the NCAA Tournament.