One Week To Go: NCAA Tournament Projections

Posted on April 29, 2013 by

Categories: D1

The NCAA playoff picture is a lot clearer. Last week there were about 10-12 teams fighting for 8 At-Large bids. This week, there are 9. However, all of that can change with conference tournaments this week. Teams like Yale, Ohio State, Penn, and even Loyola and Maryland, have to win next week and hope there are no upsets in conference tournaments.

Let’s start by taking a look at the likely conference champions to earn Automatic Qualifier bids. For each conference we took the conference leader and where there was a tie we selected the team with the higher RPI.

Big East- Syracuse
ECAC- Denver
Colonial- Penn State
IVY- Cornell
Northeast- Bryant
MAAC- Marist
Patriot- Lehigh
America East- Albany

Now let’s look at teams who would need to win at-large bids. Here are their chances of getting into the tournament (see a team-by-team explanation below):

Locks: Notre Dame, North Carolina, Bucknell, Duke
Likely In: Maryland
Bubble In: Loyola, Ohio State, Yale
Bubble Out: Pennsylvania, Princeton
Out: Johns Hopkins, Drexel

Keep in mind that only teams 1-8 are seeded, with the other teams matched up according to a variety of factors, including geography. With that in mind, we are projecting the NCAA tournament field to look something like this:

1. Notre Dame vs. Bryant
2. Denver vs. Marist
3. North Carolina vs. Bucknell
4. Penn State vs. Ohio State
5. Syracuse vs. Yale
6. Cornell vs. Albany
7. Maryland vs. Loyola
8. Duke vs. Lehigh

What do you think? Sound off below with your opinion or write a question and our bracket expert will respond to you.

Please note, this is if the season were to end TODAY. We are not projecting future contests. So how did we get to this? The NCAA selection criteria states that teams will be selected based on:

• won-lost record
• strength of schedule
• eligibility and availability of student-athletes.

And further notes that SOS and won-lost record should be based on using the RPI and evaluating the following primary criteria:

• Strength of schedule index [based on a team’s 10 highest Results of the RPI]
o record against ranked teams 1-5; 6-10, 11-20; 21+;
o average RPI win (average RPI of all wins)
o average RPI loss (average RPI of all losses).
• Head-to-head competition.
• Results versus common opponents.
• Significant wins and losses. (wins against teams ranked higher in the RPI and losses against teams ranked lower in the RPI)
• Locations of contests

Below is a chart detailing out where teams fell in these evaluations, as well as on overview of each team. Because NCAA RPI was not yet available for this week, LaxPower’s RPI data was used, as was the SOS and quality win ranking information. They do a great job of updating this information and we encourage you to visit their page with links to rankings that relate to NCAA Selection Criteria.


Summary of each team

1. Notre Dame (10-3)
Type of bid: At-Large
RPI: 1
SOS Rank: 2
Quality Win Rank: 3
Top 10 wins: Denver, North Carolina, Penn State, Ohio State
Wins 11-20: Duke
Bad Losses (RPI 21+): Hofstra
Why they are here: Despite losses to Hofstra and St. John’s, Notre Dame has a pretty ideal tournament resume: the top RPI, the second best SOS and wins over the #2, 3, and 5 RPI-rated teams. They are a clear top seed for the tournament.

2. Denver (11-3)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (ECAC)
RPI: 2
SOS Rank: 5
Quality Win Rank: 1
Top 10 wins: Loyola, Ohio State
Wins 11-20: Duke, Penn, Lehigh
Bad Losses: Fairfield
Why they are here: Denver and North Carolina were neck and neck when it came to the #2 seed. They have a similar RPI, similar # of good wins, and similar records against common opponents. When it came down to it, what separated these two was the SOS, with Denver #5 and UNC #15.

3. North Carolina (12-3)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 3
SOS Rank: 15
Quality Win Rank: 2
Top 10 wins: Maryland
Wins 11-20: Duke, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Virginia (twice)
Bad Losses: Massachusetts
Why they are here: If we are being honest, North Carolina probably playing more like a National Championship team than any other team out there (OK, Cornell is looking pretty good, too). But the Tar Heels come in just behind Denver for seeing because of fewer top 10 wins and a lower SOS.

4. Penn State (11-3)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (Colonial)
RPI: 6
SOS: 11
Quality Win Rank: 4
Top 10 wins: Denver, Bucknell
Wins 11-20: Drexel
Bad Losses: None.
Why they are here: Penn State is in as the CAA automatic qualifier, but has two top 10 wins and a great RPI. They have also avoided any bad losses and come in seeded #4.

5. Syracuse (10-3)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (Big East)
RPI: 6
SOS: 11
QW Rank: 5
Top 10 wins: Cornell, Notre Dame
Wins 11-20: Virginia, St. John’s, Johns Hopkins, Princeton
Bad Losses: Hobart, Villanova
Why they are here: What a difference a week makes. Last week Syracuse had four top 20 wins, but none in the top 5. This week they have a total of 6 top 20 wins, two of which are top 5 wins. Syracuse does have two bad losses, to Hobart and Villanova, but their top 10 wins, along with a head-to-head win over Cornell, are what got them seeded #5.

6. Cornell (12-2)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (IVY)
RPI: 4
SOS: 22
QW Rank: 4
Top 10 wins: None
Wins 11-20: Virginia, Yale, Penn, Princeton
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Cornell benefited more from other teams dropping versus anything they did this week. One thing the Big Red is still missing is a signature win: they haven’t beaten a top 10 RPI team. However, it is hard to ignore a resume where there are just two losses to top 10 teams, each by just one goal.

7. Maryland (9-3)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 7
SOS Rank: 23
Quality Win Rank: 9
Top 10 wins: Loyola
Wins 11-20: Duke, Yale, Virginia
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Last week we said that the Terps were in a precarious position and could find themselves seeded much lower if they lost to Virginia. With a RPI of 7, a very low SOS and just one top 10 win, we have the Terps seeded at #7. We will remind everyone that while Maryland is likely in the tournament, they are not a lock. Should they lose to Colgate this weekend and there be upsets in conference tournaments (for example Princeton and Villanova taking their respective AQs and Loyola and Yale losing their first-round games), then Maryland’s RPI and SOS will fall even further and they may be put squarely on the bubble.

8. Duke (11-5)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 11
SOS: 4
Quality Win Rank: 8
Top 10 wins: North Carolina, Loyola
Wins 11-20: Virginia
Bad Losses: None.
Why they are here: Duke stumbled against North Carolina, but still finds themselves seeded, largely because of one of the top strengths-of-schedule. As long as Duke beats Marquette this weekend their spot should be safe.

Unseeded Teams (in order)

Loyola (11-3)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 9
SOS: 14
QW Rank: 10
Top 10 wins: Ohio State
Wins 11-20: Johns Hopkins
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Loyola can feel better about where it sits than it did last week, but the Greyhounds can’t breathe easy yet. To lock up a tournament spot Loyola will need to, at the very least, beat Ohio State next week in the ECAC tournament. This would likely help secure them a bid. Otherwise, if there the Colonial, IVY, or Big East see upsets in their conference tournaments, it could leave Loyola on the outside looking in.

Lehigh (12-4)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (Patriot)
RPI: 14
SOS: 10
QW Rank: 11
Top 10 wins: Bucknell (twice), Penn State
Wins 11-20: None
Bad Losses: Air Force, Massachusetts
Why they are here: Lehigh needed to win the Patriot League tournament to get into the NCAAs, and they’ve done that. The Mountain Hawks are the first team to get a bid to this year’s tournament and have looked dangerous the past few weeks. With a RPI of 14 and a SOS of 10 Loyola won’t likely be seeded, but with three top 10 wins they could sneak in as a seeded team should Maryland and Loyola falter this weekend.

Bucknell (12-4)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 8
SOS: 3
QW Rank: 12
Top 10 wins: Cornell
Wins 11-20: Drexel, Albany
Bad Losses: Mt. St. Mary’s
Why they are here: With one top 10 win, a top 10 RPI and a top 5 SOS, Bucknell is in a good position come selection Sunday. To ensure a seed, though, Bucknell will be rooting for Cornell, Drexel and Albany in their conference tournaments to help bolster the quality wins.

Ohio State (10-3)
RPI: 10
SOS: 16
QW Rank: 7
Top 10 wins: Penn State
Wins 11-20: Virginia
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Ohio State is really hoping Penn State wins its conference tournament right now, because that top 5 win is the signature win that has the Buckeyes in the NCAA tournament. Otherwise, Ohio State has a solid resume, but they are competing for the last spots with teams like Yale and Penn, which have no top 5 wins.

Yale (9-4)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 13
SOS: 12
QW Rank: 15
Top 10 wins: None
Wins 11-20: Albany, Penn
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Yale and Penn have extremely similar resumes. Penn is one ahead in the RPI, Yale is one ahead in the SOS. Penn has three top 20 wins, Yale has two top 20 wins. Penn has a bad loss to Harvard. Yale has no bad losses. Ultimately, this was a tossup and came down to a head-to-head matchup, which Yale won. However, these two teams face each other Friday in the IVY League tournament. Whoever wins that game will be ahead of the other one in terms of making the NCAA tournament.

Albany (11-4)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (America East)
RPI: 16
SOS: 25
QW Rank: 16
Top 10 wins: Syracuse
Wins 11-20: Johns Hopkins
Bad Losses: Siena
Why they are here: Albany’s loss to Siena shut the door on any chance of an already long-shot at-large bid. The Great Danes are the favorites to win the America East tournament.

Marist (10-3)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (MAAC)
RPI: 30
SOS: 60
QW Rank: 20
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: Delaware, Manhattan
Why they are here: Marist showed its vulnerability this week with a 12-14 loss to Manhattan. They are the top seed in the MAAC so we have slotted them as in the tournament, but the MAAC AQ is wide open and up for grabs. With a low RPI and SOS, without the AQ Marist would not get an at-large bid.

Bryant (5-9)
Type of bid: Automatic Qualifier (Northeast)
RPI: 46
SOS: 43
QW Rank: 50
Good Wins: None
Bad Losses: Colgate, Fairfield, Vermont, Harvard, Providence, Mt. St. Mary’s, Brown
Why they are here: While Bryant is the top-seeded team from the Northeast conference, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart and Robert Morris also all earned NEC conference bids and the fight for this spot is wide open.

Just Missed (First Four Out – In Order)

Pennsylvania (8-4)
Type of bid: At Large
RPI: 12
SOS: 13
QW Rank: 14
Top 10 wins: None
Wins 11-20: Duke, Lehigh, Princeton
Bad Losses: Harvard
Why they are here: Ultimately Penn’s loss to Yale is what kept them out of the tournament. However, if Penn beats Yale this Friday in the IVY League tournament (and there are no upsets in any conference tournaments), Penn would likely sneak their way in as an at-large bid and Yale would be sitting on the outside.

Princeton (8-5)
RPI: 18
SOS: 7
QW Rank: 18
Top 10 wins: None
Wins 11-20: Johns Hopkins, Yale
Bad Losses: Dartmouth
Why they are here: Princeton has an average RPI with only one top 15 win (Yale). Princeton COULD be in the mix for an at-large bid again with a win over Cornell on Friday, but to be safe they might need to win the IVY tournament.

Johns Hopkins (8-5)
RPI: 17
SOS: 18
QW Rank: 17
Top 10 wins: Maryland
Wins 11-20: Virginia
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Even if the Blue Jays were to beat Army this weekend, a 9-5 record with an average RPI and SOS isn’t good enough to get them into the tournament. Hopkins will likely end its streak of consecutive tournament appearances at 41.

Drexel (11-3)
RPI: 15
SOS: 28
QW Rank:13
Top 10 wins: None
Wins 11-20: Albany
Bad Losses: None
Why they are here: Despite only 3 losses, Drexel only has one top 20 win over #16 Albany. Drexel will need to win their conference tournament to make it into the NCAAs.

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