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The Outlook For RPI Outliers

Analysis

Everywhere you look, teams are jockeying for position. Some are looking for national seeds. Others are eyeing hosts. Even more are trying to elbow their way into the NCAA bracket regardless of where they play.

For those teams looking to snag one of the eight national seeds or one of the 16 host spots, there are a few more opportunities to boost their resumes. In today’s column, we will focus on national seeds and hosts.

This season, 11 teams seem to be leading in the race for the eight national seeds. Oregon State, Stanford, North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson, Texas Tech, TCU, Florida, LSU and Kentucky (no order) are in the driver’s seat with a few teams trying to play their way into the race. Fans of those teams looking to crash the party should pay special attention to the RPI rankings. While RPI is only one of the categories that matters, when it comes to national seeds it seems to play a more important role.

That could be because the teams with the best seasons often have the best RPI ranks – that is the way it is supposed to work after all – but there are often exceptions. There have been just two seasons since the national seeds began in 1999 where the national seeds have followed the top eight in the RPI (2003 and 2006). Typically there are a few outliers, but when we say outliers, we mean top 12 or so.

Last season Texas Tech was a national seed with a No. 14 RPI on selection day. The Red Raiders also won the Big 12 conference, which served to offset the worse RPI than their national seed competitors. Illinois (RPI No. 13) had a similar case in its 2015 Big Ten title year.


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