College Basketball Content

Is a top 40 RPI rank a done deal for an NCAA tournament at-large spot? Not necessarily

Selection Sunday is quickly approaching, and there are plenty of teams that are considered to be on the bubble for securing an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament. That list will grow as upsets occur in conference tournament play, especially in those conferences that will be sending multiple teams to the tournament.

Although teams with a top 30 RPI rank through all games of the regular season may feel assured that they are securely in the tournament field, history shows that is not necessarily the case. Not including teams ineligible for the tournament,
4 top 30 teams have been left behind by the men's basketball committee since 1992. As the list below details, Missouri State was ranked No. 21 in 2006 and was not selected, and Oklahoma (1993), Hofstra (2006), and Air Force (2007) were all ranked No. 30 in the RPI and were not selected for the tournament.

Thirty-three (33) teams shown in the list below were eligible for their respective tournaments, and 14 of those teams were ranked either No. 39 or No. 40 in the RPI. That is 42% of the eligible teams in the list.
 
Why were these 33 teams left out of the tournament? Of course, each one has to be compared with the other teams that were in the running for at-large spots. However, Division I winning percentages lower than about 60%, and triple-digit non-conference schedule strength rankings, were sure to play at least a partial role in why these teams were not selected.

Note that since 1992, there have been only 3 years, 1996, 2002, and 2012, when all eligible teams in the top 40 of the RPI made the NCAA tournament. That fact may be enough to keep some people awake at night.

 Teams Ranked in RPI Top 40 Not making NCAA tournament, 1992-2013
 
* Ineligible;  NA - Not Available
                           NDI   D-I          NC
 Year RPI  Team            W-L   W-L    SS    SS
 2003   5  Georgia*        0-0  19-8     1     1
 1992  15  UNLV*           1-0  25-2   135    NA
 2006  21  Missouri St.    0-0  20-8    35   166
 1993  22  Syracuse*       1-0  19-9    36    NA
 1997  29  Texas Tech*     0-0  19-9    45    97
 1993  30  Oklahoma        3-0  16-11   25    NA
 2006  30  Hostra          0-0  24-6   133   184
 2007  30  Air Force       1-0  22-8    75   118
 2013  31  Southern Miss   2-0  23-9    55    68
 1992  32  Notre Dame      0-0  14-14    1    NA
 2008  32  Dayton          0-0  21-10   26    27
 1994  33  Oklahoma        0-0  15-12    4    NA
 2008  33  Illinois St.    1-0  23-9    70   106
 2000  34  Missouri St.    0-0  22-10   48    32
 2009  34  San Diego St.   2-0  21-9    33    83
 1993  35  Ohio St.        0-0  15-12   19    NA
 1994  35  Charlotte       0-0  16-12    7    NA
 1998  35  Wake Forest     0-0  15-13    2    15
 2011  35  Harvard         2-0  21-6   142   131
 1995  36  Virginia Tech   0-0  20-10   43   108
 2000  36  Kent            2-0  19-7    82    70
 2007  36  Missouri St.    1-0  21-10   39    42
 2007  38  Bradley         1-0  20-12   21    15
 1992  39  Butler          0-0  21-9    41    NA
 1994  39  Georgia Tech    0-0  16-12   26    NA
 2000  39  Vanderbilt      0-0  19-10   60   255
 2004  39  LSU             0-0  18-10   32   120
 2006  39  Creighton       0-0  19-9    54    71
 2007  39  Drexel          1-0  22-8    96     7
 1997  40  Michigan        0-0  19-11   43   109
 1999  40  Oregon          1-0  15-11   23    45
 2001  40  Miss. St.       0-0  16-12    7    34
 2003  40  UNLV            0-0  21-10   59   170
 2005  40  Miami-Ohio      1-0  18-10   79   161
 2006  40  Cincinnati      1-0  18-12    7    73
 2009  40  Creighton       0-0  26-7   111   133
 2010  40  Rhode Island    0-0  23-9    75    30

		

Bracket Bits from The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report

Tidbits from recent issues of The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report

From The RPI Report:  Should Stephen F. Austin lose in its conference tournament, will they make the tournament with an at-large bid? With a 26-game winning streak (including 3 non-Division I games) and a 29-2 overall record, the Lumberjacks would be hard to overlook even with a conference tournament loss. However, 4 of those are non-Division I wins, their non-conference schedule was not the best, and they have an 0-1 record against top 50 teams. There would be plenty of discussion if they do not make the tournament, because that would be the most wins for a team not to make it at-large, and would be one of 5 teams with 2 or 3 losses to not make the field all-time.
 

From The Women's RPI Report:  Which conference will have the most teams in the NCAA tournament this season? The ACC probably has the best chance, with 8 teams that may see their names on the draw chart on Monday evening. The SEC also has 8 or 9 teams that will receive at-large consideration, and 5 SEC teams have 7-9 conference records. A couple of those SEC team that might be on the bubble have non-conference schedule strengths that are less than impressive. It is rare for a team to make the tournament with a losing conference record of 2 games below .500, and it is unlikely that any team will make it this season sporting such a conference record.

Teams with No. 1 schedule strength rankings can usually look forward to NCAA tournament invitation

Duke captured No. 1 overall and non-conference schedule strength rank at end of regular season, went 3-1 in NCAA tournament

Duke finished in second place in the ACC standings in 2013, lost in its first conference tournament game, but still captured the No. 1 overall and non-conference regular-season schedule strength titles. The Blue Devils also had the best opponents' won-lost record of 641-394 (.6193) in the regular season, and the sixth-best RPI rank of opponents played, which is an alternate way of determining schedule strength. Duke received a No. 2 seed and eventually lost to eventual NCAA champion Louisville in the Midwest Regional Final by a score of 85-63. Since 1991, 18 of the 23 teams holding the No. 1 regular season schedule strength rank were in the NCAA tournament, and 19 of those 23 teams were in post-season play. However, having the No. 1 schedule strength does not guarantee success in the NCAA tournament. In six of the last thirteen seasons, the team holding top schedule strength honors has lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. In the ten years prior to that, no teams with the No. 1 schedule strength that made the NCAA tournament lost in the first round. The best that a team has done in the NCAA tournament that had the best regular-season schedule strength was North Carolina in 1997, losing in the national semifinals to eventual national champion Arizona. Notre Dame had the best regular-season schedule strength in 1992 with a 14-14 record and finished second in the NIT. List

Several conferences use CBN's RPI data to break tournament seeding ties

Administrators have complete confidence in CBN's RPI

Nearly all conference offices subscribe to both The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report because they know they can count on the most accurate weighted RPI for the men and the women anywhere this side of the NCAA tournament selection committees. CBN first made the Adjusted RPI ratings (which are no longer used for either the men nor the women) available to The RPI Report and The Women's RPI Report subscribers during the 1998-99 season. The NCAA used the Adjusted RPI ratings from the 1993-94 through the 2003-04 season for the men and have used the weighted RPI since the 2004-05 season, while the women used the Adjusted RPI through the 2010-11 season and began using the weighted RPI during the 2011-12 season. The weighted RPI gives more credit to teams that schedule tough opponents and that beat good teams at home and on the road. Story

AP carried the Men's RPI Ratings for 16th consecutive year during the 2009-10 season

2009-10 was the 13th season that AP distributed the Women's RPI Ratings

During the 2009-10 season, the Associated Press (AP) carried the CBN's RPI for both men's and women's college basketball, for the 16th consecutive year, for at least part of the season. In addition, 2009-10 was the 13th consecutive season that the AP distributed the women's RPI for at least part of the season. Story