We often talk about teams playing their way in or out of the NCAA Tournament during the final month of the regular season. With a very large – and weak – bubble in front of the us, comparing various teams becomes even more tedious. Basketball minds can differ on what’s most important to a team’s resume; that’s why there is an extensive voting process used by the actual NCAA Selection Committee.
Ultimately, the Committee has to answer one of two questions … 1) Why should we invite Team A? … 2) Why should we leave Team A out?
Plenty of teams on the current bubble have a least one reason to potentially leave them out: non-conference strength of schedule. In a given season, teams have no control over who they play within their conference. But teams do have a choice when building their non-conference schedule. We acknowledge certain mid-major difficulties with regard to home-and-home games, but we’ve seen programs such as Gonzaga and Butler work through these issues. As the Selection Committee pours over data in Indianapolis, here is a look at some potential bubble teams whose non-conference SOS might give the Committee a reason to leave them out – we credit CollegeRPI with the SOS data …
- Non-conference SOS | 150-200 … Maryland (153), UAB (159), Washington State (162), Utah State (170), Missouri State (191), Richmond (192)
- Non-conference SOS | 200-250 … Marquette (210), New Mexico (221), Florida State (228), Clemson (236), Southern Mississippi (243)
- Non-conference SOS | 250-plus … Baylor (251), Alabama (263), Cincinnati (280), Colorado (307)
Certainly, a team’s overall performance, including conference record, quality wins, and road success can override taking a month or two off in November and December. Then again, we’ve seen how that choice ended for Virginia Tech last year. Something to keep in mind between now and Championship Week. If teams give the Committee a reason to leave them out, it might just happen.