Conference tournaments in college basketball are here and for the first time in the season, teams will watch carefully what happens outside of their conference. The ramifications of conference upsets in historic one-bid leagues will put the selection committee in a bind choosing between a Louisiana Tech team that is 28-6 or a third team from the SEC in what is another down year for the conference.
Let’s look at the resume of three of these programs and how the selection committee might look at them.
Currently 26-4, one road conference game left before WAC Tournament.
Strength of Schedule-210
Record Against Top 50: 1-0 Record Against 51-100: 4-3
Strength of Conference: No. 12
Best Wins- Southern Mississippi, Denver
Bad Loss: Road loss at McNeese State
Key Stats-No home losses, won 17 consecutive prior to Mar. 7 defeat at New Mexico State; started March Ranked in AP Top 25
Computer Projection- 61 percent chance to get at-large bid due to TeamRanking.com and their latest simulation. Final game at Los Cruces is crucial this weekend.
2012 Comparison – Drexel 29-7 RPI: 66 Strength of Schedule: 189 Strength of Conference: No. 13 Outcome-DENIED
THE GUT- If the Bulldogs make the WAC title game, they are in the tournament. This is a good team and better than many of the borderline teams from the power conferences.
Currently 24-6, in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinal
Key Numbers RPI-22
Strength of Schedule-88
Record Against Top 50 -1-0 Record Against 51-100 5-0
Strength of Conference: No. 21
Best Wins- Stanford, Middle Tennessee State
Key Stats-No home losses Computer Projection- 25 percent chance to get at-large bid due to Team Rankings latest simulation
2012 Comparison – Southern Mississippi 23-9 RPI: 26 Strength of Schedule: 52 Strength of Conference: No. 10 Outcome-ACCEPTED THE GUT- The Bruins have respect from the tournament committee from years of dominating the Atlantic Sun Conference. Their RPI number is very strong. A Belmont team that advances to the conference title in Nashville and loses to a good Eastern Kentucky or Murray State squad is worthy of an invitation.
Strength of Schedule-146
Record Against Top 50 -1-2
Record Against 51-100 3-1
Strength of Conference: No. 15
Best Wins- Ohio, Middle Tennessee State
Bad Losses-A road loss at Buffalo
Key Stats-No home losses and won 19 straight during the season
Computer Projection- 44 percent chance to get at-large bid due to Team Rankings latest simulation
2012 Comparison – Iona 25-8 RPI: 48 Strength of Schedule: 142 Strength of Conference: No. 20 Outcome: ACCEPTED
THE GUT- Last year, it was the MAC’s Ohio Bobcats that were the darlings of the NCAA Tournament and that gave the conference respect. Big blow to the Zips with the suspension of junior guard Alex Abreu but even with that adversity, if Akron advances to MAC tournament championship they should warrant an at-large bid.
Major Conference note- For teams like Ole Miss, Kentucky, Alabama, Providence, Arizona State, Maryland, Temple and others, it is vital that their form holds in the double-digit rated conferences. That is the only way to insure that only one of these other teams from a lesser known conference goes “dancing.”
Leigh Klein was formerly on staff at Texas and Rhode Island and now owns Five-Star Basketball Camps, the nation’s top basketball camp. He contributes to 247Sports.com’s coverage of college basketball. Klein can be followed at @LeighAlanKlein