Will Washington get the cold shoulder on Selection Sunday?
It's possible Washington win a share of Pac-12 title, but not make NCAAs
A win at Kansas could make Texas the sixth Big 12 team to make field of 65
Despite a loss to Colorado, Cal still has the best at-large resume in the Pac-12
Championships of top 10 conferences are considered gold in terms of NCAA tournament selection, but since 2000, six teams have won at least a share of a top 10 league (in Conference RPI terms) and not made the NCAAs. The victims include 2001 Wyoming and Utah (Mountain West), 2001 Southern Mississippi (Conference USA), 2005 Miami, Ohio (MAC), 2007 Massachusetts (Atlantic 10), 2009 Creighton (Missouri Valley) and 2009 New Mexico (Mountain West).
(Thanks to my Twitter followers and CollegeRPI.com's Jerry Palm for helping compile.)
This season, Washington, currently a half-game ahead of Cal (one in the loss column), looks set to nab at least a share of the Pac-12 crown. A sweep in L.A. will ensure a solo championship of the No. 10-rated league. Could the Huskies become No. 8 on that ignominious list, and the first victim from a traditional "power conference"?
Washington will finish without a top-50 win and likely will be 3-8 against the RPI top 100 entering the Pac-12 tournament. After the league went 1-29 in nonconference play against RPI top 50 teams, there simply were no good wins to get in league play. Well, there was one ... but Washington lost at home to Cal in the teams' only meeting.
Should the Huskies fall into the at-large pool, the selection committee will have a quandary. Washington likely would have an RPI north of 50 and an at-large profile much more representative of the mid-major and quasi-high major teams excluded above. Here are some recent comparables to the Huskies' projected profile for an at-large:
As you can see, if they don't get the auto bid, the Huskies will have a rather anxious wait. The Pac-10 two years ago was a better league, and Cal had a better profile. So did last year's UAB team that barely got in. Last year's Saint Mary's profile wasn't much worse, if it even actually was.
Do I think Washington, at 15-3 and with a solo title, would slip into the bracket? Probably. Would it be egregious if the committee left them out, especially if the Huskies drop a game this weekend? Not at all.
A quick reminder on the standard rules of engagement:
1) Auto bids go to the best RPI of the conference leaders (based on fewest league losses).
2) Records listed are Division I only, per NCAA tournament selection guidelines. All RPI and SOS data are from Monday's collegerpi.com RPI report. GW = good wins. BL = bad losses. (N) = neutral-site game.
Locks: Duke, North Carolina, Florida State
The league title race is a two-horse show after Florida State lost at Reggie Johnson-less Miami Sunday night. Duke's at Wake Forest and North Carolina is hosting Maryland before Saturday's showdown at Cameron, so that one likely will be for the outright crown. Virginia ambles along as the fourth team looking for NCAA tourney fun, but is that where the cutoff line will be?
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Virginia (21-7, 8-6; RPI: 39, SOS: 83)
Staving off Virginia Tech on the road became even more important when the Cavaliers couldn't handle North Carolina at home. They get Florida State at home and at Maryland to close things up. This is a surprisingly sparse resume, but given the landscape, 9-7 may well be enough. If it's a win over Florida State, all the better. The top-100 mark is solid, but it's mostly lean beef.
GW: Michigan, at LSU??
BL: Virginia Tech?, TCU(N)??, at Clemson
Miami (17-10, 8-6; RPI: 48, SOS: 32)
The Hurricanes may have saved their season with Sunday's home thumping of Florida State sans Reggie Johnson, who was ruled temporarily ineligible before the game. While I joked on Twitter afterward that the performance undercuts the pre-Johnson nonconference excuses a bit, it's a huge boost for the Canes. Now they close at NC State and home to Boston College. Getting both would be very big.
GW: at Duke, Florida State
BL: None, really
North Carolina State (18-11, 7-7; RPI: 72, SOS: 29)
This is probably not happening now that the Wolfpack missed on all three chances for a profile-defining win and then topped it off with a loss at Clemson in OT. The Pack have to sweep Miami and then win in Blacksburg, and then win several ACC tourney games. They're currently 0-8 against the RPI top 50 and have three sub-100 losses.
GW: at Miami?
BL: Georgia Tech, at Clemson, at Stanford?
Locks: Kansas, Missouri, Baylor
Kansas' massive second-half rally edged Missouri and a Monday night win gave the Jayhawks an eighth straight Big 12 title and the inside track to a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. It also makes you want to see Part 3 in the Big 12 final ... and Part 4 in New Orleans? Baylor's fine for a high seed and Iowa State and Kansas State took big steps to make this at least a five-bid league. Do I hear six, Texas?
SHOULD BE IN
Iowa State (21-8, 11-5; RPI: 31, SOS: 59)
The Cyclones took a large step toward making the NCAAs with a Saturday win in Manhattan which gives them a sweep of Kansas State. With the Wildcats themselves looking pretty solid to get in, how can you nix the team that's three games ahead of them in a true-round robin, plus beat them twice? ISU has a chance to make it official this week if they can pick off Missouri (in Columbia) or Baylor at home.
GW: Kansas, Sweep of Kansas State
BL: at Drake?, at Oklahoma State?
Kansas State (19-9, 8-8; RPI: 45, SOS: 41)
The Wildcats looked to have punched their way into the NCAAs with the most impressive back-to-back wins of the season (at Baylor and at Missouri), but then they fell again to Iowa State, this time at home. Things still look pretty solid. Both games this week (at Texas A&M and against Oklahoma State) are very winnable. If they get both, hard to see the Wildcats needing more than that in this bubble year. Even a split might be fine, barring a first-round crash out in the Big 12 tournament on top of that.
GW: Sweep of Missouri, at Baylor, Alabama (N), Long Beach State (N)
BL: Swept by Oklahoma, Swept by Iowa State
IN THE MIX
Texas (18-11, 8-8; RPI: 55, SOS: 26)
The Longhorns couldn't handle Baylor at home and now are staring at a fairly mediocre profile and a 9-9 league mark (at best) unless they can win at Kansas in the season finale. The Horns are just 4-9 against the RPI top 100, with eight of those losses against top-50 teams. Maybe too many blown chances?
GW: Temple, Iowa State?, Kansas State?
BL: Oregon State (N)
Locks: Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville, Notre Dame
Five are in. Five more are in contention to get in. Since only eight can make the Big East quarters, that probably implies at least two will miss, and then we'll see who shows up in that round. The differences between the five bubble teams in contention are very, very marginal at this point. Order them how you want -- the last week of the season and the tournament will be the shredder.
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Connecticut (17-11, 7-9; RPI: 30, SOS: 1)
The Huskies' effort against Syracuse showed heart and intensity that have been noticeably lacking for large chunks of the season. It also shows up as another loss, which means the Huskies can finish .500 at best in the league. They still have some decent wins on their resume, but it would be a dangerous mistake to drop either one this week (at Providence or home to Pitt).
GW: Florida State (N), at Notre Dame, Seton Hall?, West Virginia??, Harvard?
BL: at Rutgers, at Tennessee
Seton Hall (19-10, 8-9; RPI: 44, SOS: 33)
The Pirates beat Georgetown and then tossed away the positional advantage by losing at home to Rutgers. With the West Virginia and UConn home wins weakening rapidly, the Pirates' profile is not that good. They have to win at DePaul in the finale and then make the Big East quarters and see.
GW: Georgetown, UConn?, West Virginia?, Saint Joseph's??
BL: Rutgers, at Villanova
Cincinnati (20-9, 10-6; RPI: 77, SOS: 108)
Had the Bearcats won at South Florida, they'd be in fairly strong position, but the 46-45 setback not only brings the Bulls further into the picture, it means some more work is needed. The RPI is a direct result of the Bearcats' dreadful nonconference schedule, and that will be held against them, just like Alabama '11.
GW: at Georgetown, at UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Seton Hall
BL: St. John's, at Rutgers, Presbyterian
West Virginia (17-12, 7-9; RPI: 50, SOS: 10)
The Mountaineers have now dropped seven of nine after an awful performance at Notre Dame and then blew a big second-half lead and lost at home to suspension-weakened Marquette. They're now in significant trouble and the schedule doesn't help at all. They have to beat DePaul and win at South Florida this weekend, and then very likely will face a first-round game against DePaul or Providence, which is no help either. Looks like a W4 streak (or more) now is needed. One possible saving grace: wins over potential bubble teams Miami and Kansas State.
GW: Georgetown, Kansas State (N), Miami?, Cincinnati?, Oral Roberts?
BL: Kent State?, at St. John's, Pitt?
South Florida (17-11, 11-5; RPI: 46, SOS: 24)
The Bulls showed pretty well at Syracuse and then nabbed a huge one-point win over Cincinnati to strengthen their position. This week is no bargain: at Louisville and home to West Virginia in what should be a massive game for both teams. A 12-6 USF team, given the Big East schedule and a lack of quality wins, would be a very difficult evaluation. I don't think a BET quarterfinal appearance would be enough.
GW: Seton Hall
BL: Old Dominion (N)??, Penn State (N), at Auburn
Locks: Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana
Michigan and Indiana join the lock party, so that makes five for the Big Ten. Michigan State is now arrowing toward a 1-seed in the NCAAs and the league should have a large handful of protected seeds. How many more will make it? Looks like it's up to Purdue and Northwestern to decide, although Illinois is, to quote Monty Python, "not dead yet."
SHOULD BE IN
IN THE MIX
Purdue (19-10, 9-7; RPI: 40, SOS: 19)
A huge, huge win at Michigan helps move the Boilermakers closer to an NCAA berth. With an earlier win over Temple, that's two high-quality Ws to go with the demolition of the middle of the conference. Now 10-8 looks pretty likely with Penn State coming in on Wednesday, and they get a shot to punch their ticket in Bloomington on Sunday. Somehow lose both? Hmm...
GW: at Michigan, Temple (N), Iona??, sweep of Northwestern?, Miami (Fla.)?
BL: Butler (N), at Penn State
Northwestern (17-11, 7-9; RPI: 43, SOS: 12)
The Wildcats were very fortunate to escape at Penn State with their hopes intact. Now they host a sliding Ohio State team in the game that could be the difference between making the tournament and losing out on a bid. Northwestern needs this win. There are no truly bad losses on the resume, but not nearly enough good wins given the number of chances.
GW: Michigan State, Seton Hall (N)?, at Illinois???
Illinois (17-12, 6-10; RPI: 74, SOS: 25)
If the Illini can win their next four and make the Big Ten semis, they would not be a ridiculous at-large consideration. It may take making the final, though, which likely would provide another marquee win.
GW: Ohio State, Michigan State, Gonzaga, at Northwestern?
BL: at Penn State, at Nebraska