March 18th, 2013 11:41 AM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: NIT, RPI, SOS, UT
There 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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