It’s that time of year when we argue over who the 37th and 38th best at-large college basketball teams are and whether they deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. According to Jason Lisk of TheBigLead.com, one of the biggest factors to get teams over the hump is picking the right type of crappy schools to beat up on.
One of the most important criteria used by the NCAA tournament selection committee is RPI. And strength of schedule is an important component of RPI.
But as Lisk, who correctly picked all 68 tournament teams, points out, RPI does not factor games against non-Division I opponents. This may have been the reason Boise State made the tournament and a team like Maryland did not.
Boise State played four “weak non-conference opponents” according to RPI, while Maryland played six. And overall, Boise State had a better strength of schedule (SOS=0.492) than Maryland (0.446).
But Boise State also played two non-division I foes (Corban, Walla Walla) which were not included in the RPI calculations. If Maryland’s two weakest opponents were dropped from the RPI formula, their SOS improves 0.500, which would be 40 spots ahead of Boise State in the SOS rankings.
Sure, quality wins are important. But when looking for cupcakes to fill out the schedule in November, schools are better off including a few non-division I opponents since those games won’t hurt their RPI.
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