It’s time for our last look at RPI Rankings as we assess where the ACC teams fit with respect to the Bubble. Usually, we discuss what various teams need to do in order to clear the bubble and make the NCAAT. This year is dramatically different in that seven teams are rated by nearly everyone as “currently IN” and the remainder of the conference can barely even see the Bubble (and some not even with a telescope).
Last week I listed the remaining games for the top seven (ignoring L’ville) to get a sense of the key matchups over the last week of the season. Here is that same list with the wins highlighted. I rearranged the teams on the basis of who had the best week transitioning to the worst week:
UVA – UNC, @Clemson, L’ville
Miami – L’ville, @ND, @VT
UNC – @UVA, SYR, @Duke
Pitt – Duke, @VT, @GT
SYR – NCSU, @UNC, @FSU
ND – @FSU, UM, NCSU
Duke – @Pitt, WF, UNC
And those results lead us to the final regular season standings:
Four teams entered Saturday with nine wins. Clemson beat BC and VT upset Miami in B’burg to move to 10 wins and ahead of Pit and SYR who were both upset on the road. So we’re left in the strange situation of two teams generally considered as being in the NCAAT behind two who aren’t particularly close to anything other than the NIT. Pitt and SYR meet on Wed in the 8 vs 9 matchup so we’ll need to consider if the loser is still in good shape to make the NCAAT.
Note that Sunday’s results may shuffle the rankings some.
Ignoring L’ville, it seems that the top 5 teams could lose their first game in the ACCT and still make the NCAAT. Let’s look the trend graphs and The Dance Card before discussing the Bubble Teams.
To reduce the visual clutter, I’m only including the results since Feb. 1 in both graphs.
I expanded the RPI rankings in the Bubble graph so that we could see Pitt’s and SYR’s ups and downs over the last month.
THE DANCE CARD
Now for some discussion:
ND has lost three of their last five games, so is not ending the regular season on a great note. But with a current RPI ranking of 35 and the following Top-50 wins, they should be comfortably in the NCAAT even with a loss on Thursday.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse
Pitt tried to screw up an impressive win against Duke by losing to both Techs on the road to end the regular season. Both the RPI Rankings and The Dance Card place Pitt above Syracuse…which isn’t surprising since SYR lost four out of their last five to end the regular season. Those stumbles explain their RPI Rankings falling into the Bubble Zone. But here are both team’s Top 50 wins:
Since Pitt is 2-0 against #57 Syracuse, I don’t know that there is a substantial difference between the two resumes. It’s a no-brainer to say that the winner will certainly get in. The real question is, can the loser of the 8/9 game expect an at-large bid?
I’m leaning towards “probably”. Previous year’s selections can’t be used as justification for this year’s decisions, but State has gotten in at least three times with worse resumes than either team. Plus it’s unlikely that enough teams below SYR and Pitt will win enough to move either one out. But there’s still a chance that I could be wrong, so it will be interesting to see what the pundits have to say about the loser as the conference tournaments finish up.
Another thing that we can watch as the conference tournaments finish up is to use the “Chance of Bid” column in the Dance Card along with the absolute ranking. The Dance Card first displayed this column in 2009. Since then, only one team rated at 100% has failed to get a bid….Temple last year (Which we discussed in last year’s post-mortem on the selections.) So I’ll be checking that column on Thursday morning. But it’s only fair to point out that Miami was a Dance Card miss last year with a probability of 99.65%.
Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech
I was surprised that VT showed up above FSU in the Dance Card…but the difference is small enough that it doesn’t really matter. With an RPI ranking of #86, VT is quite a way beyond the highest RPI to ever been given an at-large bid. But we can wrap up all three teams with the same conclusion….if they don’t win on Thursday, then they have no chance….and a Thursday win might not be enough.
But there is historical precedence for a trip to the finals earning a bid….Arkansas in 2008. Ignoring the slim chances of any of these three going that far, a win against a bubble team followed by a win versus a Top 10 team should be good enough.
NUMBER ONE SEED
Now let’s look at the other end of the conference and look at the possibility of an ACC team getting a #1 seed.
Here is a summary table for the RPI Top 10 to give a quick summary of the likely candidates:
As usual, Kansas has played an insane schedule and did quite well against it. Personally I would give them a #1 seed even if they lose in the B12 tournament.
Villanova and Oregon won their regular season conferences, so it would be hard to pass over either if they also win the conference tournament. Virginia didn’t do quite as well as those two, but it’s hard to imagine UVA getting passed over if they win the ACCT.
Lundardi had UNC as one of his one-seeds, even before the win @Duke. But look at their paucity of Top-50 wins…even Xavier has more. UNC also has one of the lower SOS in the Top 10 with Xavier being the only one with a weaker schedule. It just seems to me that a losing record against the RPI Top-50 shouldn’t be rewarded with a one-seed. But on the other hand, if UNC wins both the conference tournament along with the regular season, then that might be good enough…even though a number of Top-10 teams will still have more good wins.
Miami’s good points are all contained within the summary table. But let’s add one more piece of data from Miami’s season: Three losses to teams outside the RPI Top 100:
I’ve never really studied the seeding process, so I can’t say for sure whether their three horrible losses matter or not. But it just seems to me that a one seed shouldn’t have warts quite that big.
If anyone is interested in keeping track on how upsets in mid-major tournaments affect the selection process, the Dance Card highlights the conference leaders in their rankings. Using that as a guide, here are some tourneys to watch. If these top seeds lose, then these teams might fall off the bubble (and then become discussion points, ie media whining, on Selection Sunday). If these conferences get more than one bid because of a tourney upset, then a bubble team will lose out.
Mountain West – San Diego St
Horizon – Valparaiso
West Coast – Saint Mary’s (meaning Gonzaga needs to do really well in their tournament to get a bid)
MAAC – Monmouth
ACC TOURNAMENT BRACKET
The same wiki article lists the State/WF game as starting at noon on Tuesday. BWW here has a wing special on Tuesday, so we already have group heading there for lunch. Hey, I have to eat something and I really like their parmesan garlic wings. The only bad thing about going there is that it will be impossible to turn my back to the game if it turns ugly.