- 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.
The slate of BracketBusters games this weekend gave us the opportunity to get a meaningful look at many of the teams we've been monitoring all season. While this past weekend's results don't negate long-term efficiency trends, they do add context. So what did we learn? Here are five lessons:
1. The Murray State Racers' efficiency problems aren't exactly dire.
Yes, the Racers are still short of the top 10 in efficiency margin (they're 13th at 12.5), but that didn't matter as the Racers handled the Saint Mary's Gaels at home, 65-51. Granted, the ongoing efficiency issues foreshadowed some close conference games and the eventual loss to Tennessee State, but there are some things the team does exceptionally well, most notably shooting and defending beyond the arc. Both skills were on display against Saint Mary's, as the Racers went 9-for-17 from deep while holding the Gaels to just 2-of-14 shooting.