- Jordan Brenner, ESPN The Magazine contributing writer
All season long, Insider will be keeping a close eye on teams from conferences that haven't usually produced multiple NCAA tournament bids to see which squads outside of the spotlight look the strongest come tournament time. To that end, we'll be ranking the top performers from all conferences outside of the A-10, ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Mountain West, Pac-12 and SEC. One new caveat for this season: With the movement of BYU to the WCC, we will not be including the Cougars because of their established performance record. Likewise, Gonzaga and Memphis will not be considered in these rankings.
They're ranked ninth in the latest coaches' poll. Joe Lunardi pegs them as a 7-seed in the NCAA tourney. And they still haven't lost a game.
So how in the world do the Murray State Racers only place eighth in this week's Mid-Major Power Rankings?
It's a great question. And the only answer is that while the Racers keep beating teams, they're not doing so particularly efficiently. Murray State ranks 40th in the nation in offensive efficiency and 70th at the defensive end. In barely beating a weak Morehead State team last Wednesday, the Racers turned it over 14 times in a slow-paced game and shot just 43.2 percent. Factor in a woeful schedule (266th in the nation, according to Kenpom.com) and this much is clear: The Racers have a perfect record, but they are far from a perfect team.
But there's a twist to this plot when it comes to how Murray State will perform in March. While these power rankings are built solely on efficiency margin, the secret sauce behind Giant Killers uses many more ingredients and targets different strengths in teams that are likely to knock off top dogs. At this point in the season, Murray State is already building a frighteningly good GK résumé.
ESPN Insider uses advanced metrics to track teams that might bust your brackets come March. In this week's edition of the Mid-Major Power Rankings, Jordan Brenner evaluates the Murray State Racers.