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SEC Hoops Warning: It’s Not Just Who You Play, But Where You Play Them

plane-travelIn an effort to improve the SEC’s strength of schedule in basketball next season, Mike Slive invited former NCAA Tournament executive Greg Shaheen to this week’s league meetings in Destin.  Shaheen prepared a 20-page dossier for the SEC’s hoops coaches and athletic directors to peruse.

What they found amidst all the RPI and strength of schedule data surprised more than a few of them.  According to Florida’s Billy Donovan, “One of the things that was eye-opening to coaches was how much every team’s schedule impacts the other teams.”

But it’s not just a matter of SEC squads adding better teams to their schedules.  Shaheen says schools have to be willing to hit the road, too:

 

“It’s not only who you play.  It’s where you play them.  They need to be serious about this from the first game to the last.  If they don’t go on the road and don’t play quality competition, it will be reflected at the end of the year.”

 

Last year the SEC’s poor scheduling led to an measly three NCAA tourney bids for the conference.  As we noted yesterday, fewer bids means less revenue for the league.  And that’s why Slive has decided that the SEC office should take a look at team’s non-conference schedules before they’re finalized.  That’s a decision that Florida AD Jeremy Foley backs:

 

“The commissioner overseeing (scheduling), that’s a good business decision.  If scheduling is holding us back, holding some institutions back, it needs to be fixed.”

 

Overseeing scheduling, creating an SEC/Big XII Challenge, bringing in a tourney insider for a crash course on how RPI and SOS work… clearly Slive is trying everything he can to fix what needs fixing.

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Paths To Glory: The SEC’s Tourney Draws

crystal-ball-fortune-teller2Just gotta pencil an SEC team into the Elite Eight of your office bracket?  Take a chance on Florida’s defense.

Looking for a potential Sweet Sixteen surprise?  Write in Ole Miss and hope that Marshall Henderson gets hot… or unnerves UM’s foes.

Think an SEC team will go out early?  Missouri’s been pretty shaky away from home.

Below is our thumbnail, by-the-numbers look at the SEC’s teams’ hopes for advancement in the NCAA Tournament.  Now, all it takes is one cold-shooting night or a well-timed foul call to make or break a bracket’s worth of predictions.  Knowing that, we won’t be placing any bets in Vegas based on the opinions you’ll find below.  But this is how we at MrSEC.com see things as of today.

And we’re just not wowed by the SEC’s chances.

 

Florida

Seed: 3

Region: South

First Games: Austin, TX

 

  Game   School   Record   RPI   SOS   Vs Top 50   Away/Neutral
  FLORIDA   26-7   7   21   5-4   11-7
  1st   14 Northwestern St.   19-8   78   194   0-1   10-7
  Potential 2nd   6 UCLA   25-9   26   20   5-4   10-6
  Potential 2nd   11 Minnesota   20-12   34   4   5-8   5-10
  Highest Potential 3rd   2 Georgetown   25-6   11   16   9-4   9-5

 

Projection:  Florida’s defense (#2 nationally in efficiency) should smother Northwestern State in the Gators’ opener.  But then will come a test.  UCLA and Minnesota both have SOS numbers that suggest they’ve been battle-tested.  But the Bruins are the more dangerous club, not Tubby Smith’s Gophers.  A UF/UCLA tilt would be fun to see.  The Gators ousted UCLA from the NCAAs in 2011 (2nd round), 2007 (Final Four), and 2006 (Finals).  In January, we’d have picked UF to reach this Final Four as well.  But the SEC looks weak in hindsight and Florida’s struggles late in the season have made them appear vulnerable.  With the potential of games against UCLA and Georgetown back-to-back, we now think the Gators will likely bow out before Atlanta.

We’d love to be wrong about that one, because we see no other SEC team capable of making a Final Four run.

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There’s No Room For Crying Across The SEC Today

crying-baby-boyThere should be no crying in the land of popped bubbles today.  No whining should emanate from Dixie.  The NCAA’s selection committee made its choices yesterday and 11 of the SEC’s 14 teams simply didn’t deserve to go dancing this year.

Alabama ended its season at 20-12 with an RPI of 60 and a strength of schedule of 76 (non-conference of 84).  Worse, the Tide was 0-6 against RPI top 50 teams and had three losses outside the top 100… plus another outside the top 200.  If Anthony Grant’s team wanted in, it needed more than a win over Tennessee in Nashville (as we told you on Friday).  UA needed to take down Florida but it didn’t/couldn’t.

Kentucky had a slightly better record at 21-11, but it’s RPI was 57.  It’s strength of schedule was 70.  It’s non-conference SOS was 73.  While the Cats did manage three top 50 RPI wins, they also suffered three sub-100 losses.  But the real undoing of John Calipari’s fourth squad was the season-ending knee injury to Nerlens Noel back on February 12th.  Needing to prove that they could thrive without their big man, UK instead went 4-4 down the stretch.  That includes three losses in the Wildcats’ last four games, all to teams with RPI of 95 or worse.

Tennessee had a bubble-worthy resume, but there should be no complaining from the Volunteer State.  Good enough for the conversation?  Yes.  Definitely better than some other teams who landed at-large bids?  Hardly.  UT’s strength of schedule was 58 and its RPI 59.  It’s non-conference SOS was a solid 47.  Tennessee was 3-5 against top 50 RPI foes.  All pretty good.  But the Vols had a pair of sub-100 losses.  Those twin losses to Georgia (RPI 140) and an annual SEC Tournament flop — this time against Alabama — sealed the Vols’ fate.  UT surely had its chances.  Even going back to November the Vols went three-of-11 from the foul line against Georgetown in a 37-36 loss.  Hit two more free throws and beat the Hoyas (RPI 11 and a #2 seed in the tourney) and the Vols might have made the field.  In the end, UT left too much fruit hanging on the tree.

As for Arkansas and LSU not making the NIT field, well, that’s just further proof that the NIT has improved since the NCAA has taken it over.  Still a bracket for also-rans, the NIT is now forced to take those teams who won their conference’s regular season title only to be upset in their conference tourney.  That’s a good thing for the little guy.  It’s a bad thing for all the middle-of-the-road, big conference teams that used to fill the field.

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Updated SEC Bubble Numbers And Bracket Hopes

gfx - by the numbersTwo days into the SEC Tournament, it’s time to update the CVs for the four teams described as being on the NCAA tourney bubble by post prognosticators.  As of 8:30pm last night, BracketMatrix.com — a site that combines nearly 90 different internet projections into one list — had four SEC teams in the field of 68.  The current belief is that Florida and Missouri are clearly in, Kentucky and Tennessee are barely in, and Ole Miss and Alabama are barely out.

If you’ve been reading this site all hoops season, you know that that’s the way we’ve been calling the race for weeks — Florida and Missouri in, Kentucky and Tennessee in if the SEC gets four bids, Ole Miss and Alabama doomed by bad scheduling, bad losses, or both.

Let’s see if there’s any reason to change our thinking today…

 

    Kentucky   Tennessee   Ole Miss   Alabama
  Div. I Record   21-10   20-11   23-8   19-11
  Non-Conf. Record   9-4   8-4   11-2   7-5
  Winning % Rank   64   85   40   90
  Avg. RPI Win   157   148   171   152
  Avg RPI Loss   56   64   93   89
  SOS   61   57   130   88
  Non-Conf. SOS   72   45   284   86
  RPI   48   55   56   63
  Vs. RPI 1-50   2-4   4-4   1-4   1-4
  Vs RPI 51-100   4-4   4-5   5-1   5-3
  Vs RPI 101-200   6-2   4-2   6-1   7-3
  Vs RPI 201+   9-0   8-0   11-2   6-1
  Non-Conf. Away/Neutral   1-2   2-3   3-2   3-2

 

So what’s changed since our last (even more) in-depth bracket breakdown on Monday?

*  Tennessee’s resume has changed the most.  Yesterday’s win over Mississippi State got the Vols over the 20-win plateau and boosted their winning percentage rank from 92 to 85.  However, UT’s resume overall has taken a hit by a) having to play a team as bad as MSU and b) the poor work turned in this week by teams the Volunteers had already played.  Since Monday, UT’s average RPI win has fallen from 144 to 148… it’s average RPI loss has dropped from 61 to 64… it’s overall SOS has cratered from 42 to 57… its now played an additional sub-200 team in RPI (MSU).  All of those numbers appear on the info sheets handed out to the tournament selection committee, by the way.  Aside from grabbing a 20th win, the Vols have caught very few breaks this week.

*  Kentucky has seen an RPI boost from 50 to 48 (though their RPI is a tad different in every computer model you look at it).  Going up is a good thing.  Texas A&M has falled outside the RPI top 100 (again that depends on the RPI you look at) and that’s caused UK to now show two sub-200 losses on its data sheet.  Still, UK looks to be more of a lock today than at any point in recent weeks.

*  It’s non-conference foes from early in the season have done Ole Miss a bit of a solid this week.  While the number will still likely be a killer on Selection Sunday, UM’s non-conference strength of schedule has at least improved from 290 to 284.  Hurrah?  Overall, however, the Rebels’ average RPI win and average RPI loss have both dropped a point.  Also, Texas A&M’s fall from inside the top 100 to outside the top 100 has given Ole Miss another sub-100 loss to go along with two sub-200 losses.  Carrying three losses outside the RPI top 100, Mississippi really needs to do some winning in Nashville.

*  There’s been very little movement on Alabama’s resume aside from an RPI drop from 62 to 63.  As we’ve mentioned numerous times, fewer than one sub-60 RPI team per year has received an at-large bid since 1995.  The last two years — with an expanded field — three teams outside the RPI top 60 have gotten at-large berths (out of 74 total invitations extended).  The Tide still has a lot of work to do.

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Tourney Hopes: A Deep Dive Into The SEC’s Bubble Resumes – 3/11/13

Florida and Missouri are in.

Arkansas, LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, South Carolina, Mississippi State, and Auburn are out (unless one of them wins the SEC Tournament).

Alabama, Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Tennessee remain on the NCAA Tournament bubble — or at least within striking distance of it — depending on the source you choose to believe.  So with only the tourney in Nashville to go, we wanted to give you a look at four teams’ resumes, side-by-side, using much of the same info that appears on team sheets provided to the NCAA selection committee:

 

ncaa team sheet tourney 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So armed with all the important data, which SEC teams are better positioned to receive NCAA at-large tourney bids?

Read on (teams listed in order according to current RPI)…

 

  Kentucky   Tennessee   Ole Miss   Alabama
  Div. I Record   21-10   19-11   23-8   19-11
  Non-Conf. Record   9-4   8-4   11-2   7-5
  Winning % Rank   65   92   38   92
  Avg. RPI Win   158   144   170   152
  Avg. RPI Loss   54   61   92   90
  SOS   61   42   130   87
  Non-Conf. SOS   72   46   290   88
  RPI   50   55   56   62
  Vs RPI 1-50   2-4   4-4   1-4   1-4
  Vs RPI 51-100   5-5   5-5   6-2   6-3
  Vs RPI 101-200   5-1   3-2   5-0   6-3
  Vs RPI 201+   9-0   7-0   11-2   6-1
  Non-Conf. Away/Neutral   1-2   2-3   3-2   3-2

 

Observations

*  Looking at the NCAA’s example team sheet, it’s clear that a team’s conference record is not listed (though it’s easy to figure out with a little subtraction).

*  A team’s record over it’s final 10-12 games is not listed.  Team schedules are not arranged by date, either.  The NCAA wanted teams to schedule better in November and December so it de-emphasized a team’s play at season’s end.  That said, most basketball aficionados would probably have some idea of which teams are hot and which aren’t.

*  All numbers on NCAA’s team sheets are rounded.

*  Conference names are not listed and neither are conference RPI ranks, but the committee knows that information.

*  As for the SEC’s four bubble teams, let’s take a look at these resumes line by line…

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SEC Tourney Files and Bubble Talk Heading To New Orleans

Before we dive into the bubble debate, here’s a quick look at your final 2011-12 SEC standings:


Tourney Seed
School
SEC Record
Overall Record
1
Kentucky
16-0
30-1
2
Tennessee
10-6
18-13*
3
Vanderbilt
10-6
21-10
4
Florida
10-6
22-9
5
Alabama
9-7
20-10
6
Miss. State
8-8
21-10
7
Ole Miss
8-8
18-12
8
LSU
7-9
17-13
9
Arkansas
6-10
18-13
10
Auburn
5-11
15-15
11
Georgia
5-11
14-16
12
S. Carolina
1-14
10-20


* Tennessee’s actual record — according to the NCAA selection committee — is 17-13 as a win over Division II Chaminade does not count.


Your tournament schedule for this week’s games in New Orleans is as follows:


Game One, Thursday, 1:00pm ET — #8 LSU vs #9 Arkansas

Game Two, Thursday, 3:30pm ET — #5 Alabama vs #12 S. Carolina

Game Three, Thursday, 7:30pm ET — #7 Ole Miss vs #10 Auburn

Game Four, Thursday, 10:00pm ET — #6 Miss. State vs #11 Georgia

Game Five, Friday, 1:00pm ET — LSU/Arkansas winner vs #1 Kentucky

Game Six, Friday, 3:30pm ET — Alabama/S. Carolina winner vs #4 Florida

Game Seven, Friday, 7:30pm ET — Ole Miss/Auburn winner vs #2 Tennessee

Game Eight, Friday, 10:00pm ET — Miss. State/Georgia winner vs #3 Vanderbilt

Game Nine, Saturday, 1:00pm ET — #1 bracket winner vs #4 bracket winner

Game Ten, Saturday, 3:30pm ET — #2 bracket winner vs #3 bracket winner

Game Eleven, Sunday, 1:00pm ET — Finals


Now some analysis.  In our view, Kentucky has a #1 seed wrapped up in the NCAA tourney.  Heck, that’s everyone’s view.  So they’re in.  Ditto Florida and Vanderbilt.  Their bodies of work have earned them slots in the field.  We believe Alabama has earned an at-large bid, too.

That said, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina aren’t going to the Big Dance unless they win the SEC Tournament.  Speaking yesterday with former Tennessee and — for a single interim season — Florida head coach Don DeVoe — a member of the NIT selection committee — we at MrSEC.com learned that he believes LSU and Arkansas will receive strong consideration for bids into that tournament.

That leaves us with three other squads who are currently on the proverbial NCAA bubble — Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Tennessee.  (DeVoe said all three would be likely to make the NIT if they miss out on the NCAA tourney.)

Below are the NCAA files on the other nine league members.  We’ll save MSU, UM and UT for later.

The numbers below — according to NCAA officials and those media members who’ve gone through mock selection sessions run by the NCAA — are most often used to select the field: strength of schedule, RPI, wins versus RPI Top 50 and Top 100 teams, quality road or neutral site wins over RPI Top 100 teams, and bad losses to teams outside the Top 100.

There is a science to Selection Sunday.  We’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: Guys like Joe Lunardi wouldn’t be so accurate with their tourney projections each year if the selection committee didn’t rely so heavily on math.  There are always an exception or two, but any team not already fitting the usual NCAA profile has plenty of reason to sweat to this week.

Here are the files for nine of the SEC’s 12 squads:


School
RPI
SOS
W vs Top 50
W vs Top 100
R/N W vs Top 100
L vs RPI 101+
NCAA Status
Kentucky
2
36
8-1
18-1
5
0
In
Vanderbilt
26
6
4-4
11-9
5
1
In
Florida
29
37
3-5
8-7
3
2
In
Alabama
32
20
3-5
9-9
3
1
In
LSU
89
61
2-6
5-10
0
3
Out
Arkansas
99
60
2-5
4-10
0
3
Out
Georgia
112
16
2-7
6-13
2
3
Out
Auburn
141
74
1-7
4-14
0
1
Out
S. Carolina
193
40
1-8
1-14
0
6
Out



Now let’s have some fun with the three teams on the NCAA bubble.  Below you’ll find the exact information we used above.  But the teams are not identified.  You decide who has the best case for the SEC’s 5th bid — if the SEC gets a 5th bid — entering the SEC tourney:


School
RPI
SOS
W vs Top 50
W vs Top 100
R/N W vs Top 100
L vs RPI 101+
NCAA Status
Team A
58
39
1-6
7-11
2
1
Bubble
Team B
67
67
3-4
8-8
2
2
Bubble
Team C
75
33
4-7
7-9
2
4
Bubble



So who gets the 5th bid?

If you said Team A — higher RPI, worse record versus Top 50 and Top 100 — then you picked Ole Miss, the SEC’s #7 seed.

If you said Team B — poor RPI and SOS, best records versus Top 50 and Top 100 — then you chose Mississippi State, the SEC’s #6 seed.

And if you said Team C — bad RPI and more bad losses, best SOS — then you picked Tennessee, the SEC’s #2 seed and the hottest team in the league not named Kentucky.


There’s an argument to be made for each squad.  And remember, during the season, MSU beat UT… UT beat UM… and UM and MSU split their two meetings.

Also keep in mind that a team’s last 10-12 games are no longer emphasized by the selection committee.  Last year, Tennessee started hot and finished cold while Alabama started poorly and then put up the SEC’ second-best league mark.  Tennessee got in due to body of work.  Alabama — which like Tennessee this year passed “the eye test” — was left out to its body of work.

The final bid — and again, that’s if there’s a 5th SEC bid — could be determined in New Orleans and ironically all three teams are on the same side of the bracket.  Luckily for all three, they’re on the opposite side from Kentucky which means they could each put together a lengthy run before having to face the Cats.

Below is what we feel to be the best bet for each team to grab an at-large bid.  (Obviously, winning the whole darn tourney would mean an automatic bid, but capturing the flag from UK will be easier said than done.)  Since we’re talking about gaining an at-large bid rather than winning the tourney, instead of hoping for an easy road through the tourney, the league’s bubble teams should be hoping they face the best teams possible:


#2 Tennessee’s Best Bet For An At-Large Bid

* The Vols grabbed the #2 seed and a first-round bye but that meant exactly nothing for Alabama last season.

* UT should hope that #7 Ole Miss knocks off #10 Auburn in the first round.  Beating RPI 58 UM would slightly help the Volunteers’ RPI and SOS while just playing Auburn (RPI 141) could hurt them.  Also, if Tennessee beats Ole Miss, it would be their second win over the Rebels and eliminate a rival bubble team from the SEC tourney.

* Tennessee should want to face #3 Vanderbilt in the semifinals.  The Vols have the worst RPI of the SEC’s bubble squads and beating the Commodores — for the second time in a week — would boost their computer numbers.  It would also give UT a win of the season series against Vandy (two games to one), which might look good to the selection committee.  Especially considering that UT already swept its two games with Florida this year.

* If UT can reach the finals, it will have a 19-13 record (remember: Chaminade doesn’t count) and the Vols would have won 10 of their last 11 games.  Whether committee members are supposed to consider that or not, it’s hard to imagine that fact not rattling around in some voters’ minds.  Finally, you’ll see this again and again below, but if the Vols face Kentucky in the finals, even a loss could help their RPI and SOS.


#6 Mississippi State’s Best Bet For An At-Large Bid

* The Bulldogs will face #11 Georgia in a first-round game that won’t do much for State’s RPI or SOS.

* Beat UGA and MSU would then face #3 Vanderbilt.  A win over the Commodores would give State a two-game sweep of Vandy on the season and aid their computer numbers.

* Bulldog fans have already beaten Tennessee while they split their regular-season games with Ole Miss.  A win over the Rebels might do a bit more for State’s RPI and SOS than a win over the Vols.  Either way, MSU would likely be popping the bubble hopes of a competitor.  What they don’t want is a surprise encounter with poor RPI Auburn.

* If State reaches the finals they’ll do so with a 24-10 record and they’ll have gotten past the SEC’s other two bubble squads.  Win or lose against Kentucky — their likely opponent in the finals — the Bulldogs might have done enough by that point to earn an NCAA bid.


#7 Ole Miss’ Best Bet For An At-Large Bid

* The Rebels will face #10 Auburn in their first-round game and that’s not going to help their RPI or their SOS.

* Beat the Tigers and UM will face #2 seed Tennessee.  Knocking off the Vols won’t do much for their RPI, either, but it might eliminate one of their competitors from the NCAA tourney bubble.

* Ole Miss fans should be pulling for #3 Vanderbilt to reach the semifinals at that point.  Beating the Commodores would improve the Rebels’ record to 21-12 and help both their RPI and SOS. 

* Even losing to Kentucky in the finals — if UK makes it — would help UM’s computer numbers.


Our best bet right now?

The SEC is a four-bid league.  Tennessee, Ole Miss and Mississippi State — in that order — still have more work to do.  At least that’s what the math says.

Starting the tourney, we’d handicap the race for a potential 5th SEC bid as UT #1, UM #2 and MSU #3.

We shall see.

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UK Could Have Gotten A #3, But Should They Have?

Folks in the Bluegrass State are up in arms today because their Wildcats landed a #4 seed rather than a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  Looking at the #3 seeds in the field, UK does compare favorably with them in a couple of categories.

Below are each school’s RPI and SOS numbers as well as their records against the Top 50 and Top 100 RPI teams in the country:


School
Overall Record
RPI
SOS
Vs RPI Top 50
Vs RPI Top 100
Last 10 Games
BYU (#3)
29-4
5
21
9-2
12-4
8-2
Purdue (#3)
25-7
12
25
8-5
16-6
7-3
Syracuse (#3)
26-7
18
29
9-5
12-6
7-3
UConn (#3)
26-9
14
7
12-8
15-9
6-4
Kentucky (#4)
25-8
7
8
9-5
12-7
8-2



So who should Kentucky be seeded above? 

Scratch BYU.  The Cougars have a better record, better RPI, and an 8-2 finish equal to UK’s.  That 81% winning percentage against Top 50 foes is eye-popping, too.

As for the Big East squads, it’s apparent the selection committee gave the nod to that league for its #1 RPI rank overall.  The SEC ranked #5 in the RPI among conferences.  (In UConn’s case, the Huskies also played a staggering 20 games against Top 50 opponents and beat the Cats by 17 way back in November.)

In our view, Purdue would be the most likely school to have flip-flopped with UK on the 3-4 line.  While the Boilermakers had a slightly better record, the Cats had a slightly better RPI and a tougher strength of schedule.  However, Purdue played three more games against Top 100 foes than UK did.  Comparing conferences, the Big Ten was also #2 in RPI to the SEC’s #5.

If you’re looking for a clear-cut reason to put UK ahead of anyone in the field, you can find it.  But if you’re objectively looking at their seed, you see that there are reasons for and against moving them up.  (As we stated earlier today, UK’s 2-6 mark on the road in SEC play likely stood out to the committee.  Syracuse was 7-3 in conference road games, UConn was 4-4 in league road games, and Purdue was 5-4 in those type games.)

John Calipari said of his team’s #4 seed, “Wow.  It stinks.”  Stinks is a pretty strong word.  Coaches and fanbases usually feel they’ve been slighted by the selection committee. 

But the selection and seeding processes are hardly scientific.  There’s not a school in the field that can’t split hairs and claim it deserved a better seed.  It just depends on the hairs they choose to split.

Could Kentucky have been a #3 seed?  Yes.  Should they have been a #3 seed?  If you ask someone in Kentucky, you betcha.  If you look at the above numbers without bias, you see that it’s not quite as clear cut as some Big Blue fans might make it out to be.

On the positive side of things, the way UK has been playing since February 26th — 6-0 with two wins over Florida, one over Vandy, one over Tennessee and one over Alabama — the Cats are peaking at the right time.  The difference between a #3 and a #4 shouldn’t be that great.


(Sidenote — Don’t forget, while Kentucky’s SEC Tournament championship was impressive to the eye, the Cats collected wins over RPI #83 and RPI #80 before besting RPI #8 in the finals.)

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Blind Comparisons: Who Would You Put In The Tourney?

On Tuesday, we’ll be bringing you a comprehensive look at the resumes of each and every SEC basketball team.  Not only will you be able to compare tournament contenders with one another, but you’ll also be able to see just how bad the SEC’s bad teams were as well as just how average the league’s average squads were.

But tonight, we wanted to have a little fun with some of the teams currently sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubble.  Taking the lists compiled by bracket gurus Jerry Palm, Joe Lunardi and Andy Glockner, we’ve created one master list of 22 bubble teams who are currently competing for NCAA at-large bids.  But before we show you the list, let’s do some blind comparisons.


If only two of the five teams below could be given berths in the tournament, which two teams would you give them to?


Team
Overall Record
Current RPI
Strength of Schedule
A
21-9
37
71
B
22-9
38
55
C
20-10
39
36
D
19-12
40
17
E
19-11
45
28



If we were on the selection committee, Team D would definitely get a bid.  Their record and RPI are comparable to the other teams, but they played by far the toughest schedule of the bunch.  The final bid would come down to teams C and E.  One has the better RPI, the other the better SOS.  Team C has a better record by one game, so we’d hand C the final at-large bid.


(Scroll down to find out who Teams A-E are.)




In this case, Team A is Butler, Team B is Memphis, Team C is Georgia, Team D is Illinois, and Team E is Boston College.  So we would have given the slots to Illinois and Georgia.  You?


Try this one…


Team
Overall Record
Current RPI
Strength of Schedule
V
25-8
42
127
W
19-11
75
86
X
18-12
76
73
Y
19-11
78
65
Z
20-10
79
125



If we were on the selection committee, Team V would get one of our two bids despite the low strength of schedule.  Their RPI and record are far stronger than anyone else in this group.  Of the remaining teams, we’d dump Team Z because their SOS is so much lower than those teams with comparable RPI.  With their record and a slightly tougher SOS, we’d give the other bid to Team Y.


(Scroll down to find out who Teams V-Z are.)




In this case, Team V is Missouri State, Team W is Washington State, Team X is Colorado, Team Y is Nebraska, and Team Z is Alabama.  We would have extended bids to Missouri State and Nebraska.  Would you?


The blind comparisons are an interesting exercise and a good way to take bias and prejudice out of the mix.  If you want to send a couple to your friends, feel free to use the info below.  The 22 teams most commonly listed as bubble teams are as follows:


Team
Overall Record
Current RPI
Strength of Schedule
Butler
21-9
37
71
Memphis
22-9
38
55
Georgia
20-10
39
36
Illinois
19-12
40
17
Missouri St.
25-8
42
127
Boston Coll.
19-11
45
28
Washington
20-10
47
52
Michigan St.
16-13
48
9
VCU
23-10
49
91
Penn St.
16-13
54
7
Richmond
24-7
55
138
Michigan
18-12
56
18
Clemson
20-10
57
74
Gonzaga
22-9
62
103
Virginia Tech
19-10
64
87
Marquette
18-13
68
31
Southern Cal
18-13
69
42
Washington St.
19-11
75
86
Colorado
18-12
76
73
Nebraska
19-11
78
65
Alabama
20-10
79
125
Baylor
17-12
84
39


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