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Archive for Saturday, March 2, 2002

RPI key to determining at-large berths

March 2, 2002

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The final days of numbers-crunching for the 35 at-large bids to the NCAA tournament have started, and what keeps it interesting is that there is no formula.

The berths are decided by the 10-member selection committee and there isn't a number or fact they miss through the NCAA's exhaustive research on each of the contending teams.

The biggest number for the average person remains the RPI. And though that three-factor formula that is available to the public isn't perfect, a look back at the last 11 seasons shows it's pretty reliable.

The Collegiate Basketball News, which is based in Carmel, Ind., compiles the RPI that the general public has access to. According to its numbers, the teams the figures say deserve to get in have made the field.

From 1991 through 2001, all but one of the 324 teams eligible for the NCAA tournament and ranked from No. 1 to 30, made the field.

Of the 110 ranked from No. 31 to 40, 96 made the field; and 71 of the 110 ranked No. 41 to 50 made it. The next group No. 51 to 60 has had 44 of 109 get in, and only four teams with an RPI over 60 have been at-large selections since 1991.

The one team that didn't get in despite being 30th in the RPI was Oklahoma in 1993. The Sooners were 19-11 on Selection Sunday, having lost to Iowa State in the first round of the Big Eight tournament. However, three of the wins were over non-Division I teams Chaminade, Alaska-Anchorage and West Texas State and that cost them the bid.

The team with the worst RPI to ever make the field with an at-large bid was New Mexico in 1999. The Lobos were 74th in the RPI when the picks were made and were seeded No. 9. They beat Missouri in the first round and lost to eventual national champion Connecticut in the second.

New Mexico was 24-8 when it was selected for the field and was 7-3 in its last 10 games, including losing to Utah in the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game.

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Tourney TV: ESPN's Championship Week runs from today through Selection Sunday on March 10, an eight-day stretch when the games deciding 25 of the 31 automatic NCAA tournament berths will be shown.

Three title games will be shown today Atlantic Sun, Ohio Valley and Big South.

Before the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big 12 close it out with title games on March 10, there will be 45 men's games and six women's, all championship games, televised on either ESPN or ESPN2.

The additions to this year's Championship Week are a first-round game from the Big 12 and the title games from the Mountain West and Conference USA.

The entire ACC and Big East tournaments will be shown.

Dan Shulman will be the front-runner for any hustle awards. He will call three title games in four days: Ohio Valley in Louisville, Ky., on March 2; MAAC in Albany, N.Y., on March 4; and the Horizon League from Cleveland on March 5.

ESPN will also televise the NCAA tournament's opening-round game between the 64th and 65th seeds on March 12.

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Michigan Order: There are seven Division I schools from the state of Michigan and it might take a few guesses before anyone gets their correct order in the RPI. Michigan State led the way at No. 36 and Detroit was second at 86. Here comes the tough one, figuring out which school was third, before Michigan at 142. At No. 116 was Oakland, Mich., of the Mid-Continent Conference. The other schools from Michigan were Western Michigan (142), Central Michigan (216) and Eastern Michigan (296).

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Road Woes: Hofstra led the nation last season with 12 road wins. The Pride changed conferences, moving from the America East to the Colonial Athletic Association, and coaches, as Jay Wright moved to Villanova and was succeeded by assistant Tom Pecora. They also had seven seniors graduate and with five freshmen in the eight-man rotation, Hofstra finished 1-11 away from home.

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