77% of automatic bids went to first- and second-place finishers in regular-season conference standings for 2013Conference tournaments are now upon us, and Selection Sunday will be here before we know it. This year there will be 32 automatic qualifiers and 36 at-large teams in the NCAA tournament, which means there is one less team for the bracketologists get wrong in the hectic madness leading up to 6 p.m. on March 16.
How might the 2014 automatic and at-large tournament selections relate to the positions they finished in regular-season conference play? Nobody can say for sure, but we can get an idea from the 2013 tournament. A total of 24 out of the 31 automatic qualifiers (77%) for the 2013 NCAA tournament finished in first or second place in their conference standings. Of the remaining automatic qualifiers, 1 finished in 3rd place, 3 finished in 4th place, 2 in 5th, and 1 in 6th place in their conference standings.
30 out of the 37 teams that were selected at-large in the 2013 tournament finished in the top 4 positions in their conferences. The other 7 at-large teams finished in 5th place (3 teams), 6th (1 team), 7th (2 teams), and 8th and 9th places (1 team each), as shown in the table below.
Every team in the country has a chance at winning their conference tournament (except for the Ivy League and the lone independent this season), although it is not an equal chance. While conference tournaments are wide open for any team to win, historical data shows that the champion usually is a very good, solid team finishing within the top 2 or 3 in its conference, as in 2013. Also, 85% of the at-large teams in 2013 finished in the top four places in their conferences, which is on par with seasons prior to 2013.
Has any team finished in last place in its conference and won its conference tournament for an automatic bid? Florida International (4-12, 11-18) finished tied for last place in 1995 in the Trans America and won the automatic bid, while Fairfield (2-12, 11-18) finished alone and dead last in the MAAC in 1997 and won its tournament. In 2008, Georgia finished last (4-12, 17-16) in the SEC East, which tied them with Auburn (SEC West, 4-12) for the worst conference record in the SEC that year. That year is also notable because Georgia won 2 conference tournament games on the same day when a tornado struck the Georgia Dome during tournament play and complicated the SEC tournament schedule, sending the remaining games to Georgia Tech's arena.
Conf. Automatic At-large Total
Finish Bids Bids Teams
1st 16 7 23
2nd 8 8 16
3rd 1 8 9
4th 3 7 10
5th 2 3 5
6th 1 0 1
7th 0 2 2
8th 0 1 1
9th 0 1 1
Totals 31 37 68
Note: Conference finish includes ties, and finish in conference division, if applicable
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