No. 1 Duke (22-3, RPI: 1) vs. No. 16 Charleston Southern (Big South auto bid)/Norfolk State (MEAC auto bid)
Please see the final slide for a more in-depth analysis of the No. 1 seeds.
No. 8 Illinois (19-8, RPI: 28) vs. No. 9 Colorado (17-8, RPI: 21)
Four straight wins have taken the Illini off of life support and placed them safely in the tournament, for now. Home games against Penn State and Nebraska should get them to eight conference wins. A road game against Michigan should get them to eight conference losses. The last two games of the season (at Iowa, at Ohio State) will decide their fate.
A home split against the Arizona schools was the expected outcome for the week for the Buffaloes, even if it didn’t split in the expected order. They’re 7-6 in a fading conference with a difficult upcoming road trip to Stanford and California. The rematch with Oregon (March 7) should determine whether they finish above .500 in the Pac-12.
No. 5 Colorado State (???) vs. No. 12 Ole Miss/Saint Mary’s (Last Five In)
Time for a blind resume comparison!
Team A: 21-4 overall, 8-2 in conference, RPI 13, SOS 54, 9-3 vs. RPI Top 100
Team B: 22-4 overall, 9-4 in conference, RPI 6, SOS 34, 10-4 vs. RPI Top 100
Team A is Colorado State. Team B is Michigan. The Rams need to be taken more seriously.
No. 4 Butler (21-5, RPI: 18) vs. No. 13 Louisiana Tech (WAC auto bid)
If it weren’t for recent losses to La Salle, Saint Louis and Charlotte, Butler would be a No. 2 seed and the A-10 would be lucky to send three teams to the tournament, rather than lobbying for a fifth (Temple) and sixth (Charlotte).
No. 6 Oregon (21-5, RPI; 38) vs. No. 11 Iowa State (17-8, RPI: 46)
Prior to losing Dominic Artis, the Ducks had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.00. In the seven games without Artis, that ratio is 0.55. That was good enough for wins over Utah and the Washington schools, but it won’t cut it this week against Cal and Stanford. A pair of losses would submerge them in a bit of hot water.
When Iowa State visits Baylor on Wednesday, it’s a do-or-die game for both teams. The Cyclones are 0-7 away from Ames against the RPI Top 150. If they don’t beat Baylor, they might not win any road games against the RPI Top 150, which wouldn’t sit well with the selection committee.
No. 3 New Mexico (???) vs. No. 14 Stephen F. Austin (Southland auto bid)
How about one more blind resume comparison?
Team A: 22-4 overall, 9-2 in conference, RPI 3, SOS 5, 13-4 vs. RPI Top 100
Team B: 23-3 overall, 11-2 in conference, RPI 11, SOS 39, 9-3 vs. RPI Top 100
Team A is New Mexico. Team B is Indiana. Yet, the Lobos are 15 spots behind the Hoosiers in the latest AP poll. Media bias is a crazy thing.
No. 7 Notre Dame (21-6, RPI: 47) vs. No. 10 Missouri (18-7, RPI: 37)
In a span of two days, Notre Dame went from giving up 71 points to Providence to holding Pittsburgh to just 42. The Irish aren’t often going to put up a lot of points—unless you give them five overtimes to do so—but when they’re defending and rebounding to the fullest of their ability, they can beat anyone.
Missouri is 0-6 in true road games against the RPI Top 150. Unless they reverse that trend in their remaining games against Kentucky and Tennessee or pick up a home win over Florida—or a little of both—the Tigers could be bound for the NIT.
No. 2 Gonzaga (25-2, RPI: 12) vs. No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun auto bid)
The Zags are abusing the West Coast Conference en route to a potential No. 1 seed. They’re currently sitting at No. 7 overall with significantly fewer potential stumbling blocks than the six teams ahead of them.