Postseason Buzz: The Burning Q’sAnalysis
On Monday, we’ll get many of our questions answered as the NCAA regional bracket is revealed. Until that time, we are left searching for answers about which teams will host, will teams will travel and which teams will pack up for summer.
In this piece we focus on three burning questions and review how the selection committee has handled similar situations in the past and try to apply those lessons to today.
The Question: How important are the RPI rankings when it comes to awarding host sites?
The Commentary: On last week’s Nerdcast, Aaron, Kendall, and I debated how to assess Arizona for the final host spot for this week’s projections. None of us really felt all that sold on the Wildcats’ resume but they got the nod – largely due to my insistence that the RPI typically matters on borderline cases. I based this largely on memory, which admittedly can be a bit unsteady at times, so I went back and checked the numbers for the last five years.
In those last five seasons, eight teams have been passed in the RPI for teams with worse rankings. That would be a ratio of three occurrences every two seasons. The fact that this happens occasionally is interesting but it really doesn’t provide any insight into what the conditions are that led to the occurrence. So, strap on your scuba gear and let’s dive in.
Last season went according to plan except for #12 Coastal Carolina getting skipped for #17 Virginia. The Chanticleers were hampered by their 3-7 top 25 mark, their 7-8 top 50 mark and while they dominated the Big South at 21-3, it was the 17th rated conference. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers were 11-11 vs the top 25, 15-16 vs the top 50 and went 19-11 in the top rated conference.
A similar situation occurred in 2015 when #15 Radford and #16 College of Charleston hit the road in favor of #20 UC Santa Barbara and #25 Cal State Fullerton. In this case, the two West Coast teams were considered to be better than their RPI rankings and got the nod pushing out the champs from the 10th and 14th rated conferences.
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