Just how valuable playing games away from home can be when it comes to making the NCAA tournament has been a point of discussion for quite some time now. Programs in higher-profile conferences can play the majority of their non-conference games at home, with league play providing enough opportunities for quality wins when it comes to getting into the NCAA tournament.
Programs in lower-profile conferences don’t have that luxury, as they spend much of non-conference play on the road as home games against power conference teams are tough to come by. That is what makes Tuesday’s announcement such an important one when it comes to the NCAA tournament selection process.
The selection committee has adjusted its team sheets to give teams more credit for playing road/neutral games, with results now being placed into any one of four quadrants.
The four quadrants are as follows, according to Andy Katz of NCAA.com:
Quadrant 1: Home 1-30; Neutral 1-50; Away 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home 31-75; Neutral 51-100; Away 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home 76-160; Neutral 101-200; Away 136-240
Quadrant 4: Home 161-plus; Neutral 201-plus; Away 241-plus
While this shift comes a couple years too late for a program like Monmouth (2016), it is a step in the right direction. The previous system used by the selection committee simply divided games into Top 50, 51-100, 101-200 and 201 or higher categories, without regard for where the game was played. Of course the location could be cited in discussions, but it’s more helpful to have that factored into the numbers being used as well.
In addition to giving teams more credit for playing and winning games away from home, the new system could also lessen the damage that a road conference loss can do to the résumé of an at-large candidate from a non-power conference.
Tuesday’s news should help matters when it comes to dissecting the résumés of teams. The next step: getting rid of the RPI.