Frank Haith’s Miami Hurricanes beat Clemson, 75-72, today in a key ACC match-up that may ultimately serve to support NC State’s slim chances to earn an NCAA Tournament bid when the 2007-2008 college basketball regular season comes to a close.
I definitely understand that Clemson will have a stronger mathematical impact on NC State’s RPI than Miami in light of the fact that the Wolfpack plays Clemson twice this season and Miami only once. But, as important as I believe a strong RPI is to any NCAA Tournament bid I also recognize the need for any NCAA Tournament resume to include as many ‘good wins’ as possible.
The more ‘good wins’ a team can add to their resume, the stronger a ‘bubble’ resume will look; and, victories over teams who earn NCAA Tournament helps define a ‘good win’.
If the NCAA Tournament were to hypothetically select their field before today’s games only North Carolina, Duke and Clemson would have been guaranteed to receive bids from the ACC. BUT, Miami’s win today improved the Hurricanes record to 14-4 and their RPI from the bubble of #40 to a safe number of #32. Hypothetically, the Hurricanes now would be an NCAA Tournament team and therefore provide the Wolfpack another win over a (hypothetical) NCAA Tournament participant. (Don’t be too concerned for Clemson right now, the Tigers are still #27 in the RPI with a 14-5 record).
Excluding Florida State whose wins over Florida and Minnesota are becoming heavily diluted by other losses, NC State currently has five wins over eams who have legitimate chances of securing NCAA Tournament bids this season – Rider, Miami, Villanova, Davidson, Seton Hall. Assuming that Clemson stays above water then the Wolfpack has four more games remaining on the schedule – three of which are at home – against the ACC’s guaranteed NCAA Tournament teams of UNC-CH, Duke, Clemson. An upset in one or more of these match-ups would be huge for State’s resume and RPI.
The Atlantic Coast Conference exhibits phenomenal balance across twelve teams and is currently the top rated conference in the RPI. For example, the ACC doesn’t have a team with an RPI currently worse than #86 while the Pac-10 four teams with RPI’s worse than the 12th team in the ACC – Washington, Arizona State, California and Oregon State. You read that correctly. The great Arizona State that the media has been lauding as such a succeess story currently sits at #91 in the RPI, forty spots behind NC State and five spots behind the ACC’s worst team.
The ACC’s balance is fantastic. But after listening to idiots like Doug Gottlieb last night who extolled his unwaivering conviction that the Pac 10 is clearly the best conference in America because it is so difficult “from to to bottom”, I am concerned that the ACC’s depth of balance is not being appreciated by the college basketball community and therefore will ultimately hurt the league’s chances of obtaining our fair share of NCAA Tournament bids.
Therefore, I think that it is imperative that the ACC needs more teams to establish themselves as clear NCAA Tournament teams while creating a more clear differentiation between the haves and the have nots. Basically, it would be better for the conference for some teams to start succeeding at the expense of other teams. For example, it would be particular helpful if Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest started losing more to NC State, Clemson, Miami, Maryland and Florida State.
Here’s a cheer for Miami. Keep up the good work.