Boston College vs Colorado State: Which Team Makes the NCAA Tournament
Updated March 9
Boston College (19-11, 9-7 ACC); RPI: 39, SOS: 18
Colorado State (18-11, 9-7 MWC); RPI: 45, SOS: 37
Why Boston College Gets In
Boston College picked up a win in the same arena where Duke could not just three days earlier against Virginia Tech. If Virginia Tech had won, it may have all but guaranteed an NCAA tournament bid for the Hokies. Instead, BC came out and stole the show—the Eagles got out to a 27-10 lead—and went on to win by 15 in Blacksburg..
For Boston College, the win was the second over Virginia Tech this season. BC moved over .500 in conference play to 8-7. Although the Eagles still trail Tech by a game in the ACC standings, they now should move ahead of the Hokies in line for the ACC’s fourth NCAA bid.
The win that should carry the most weight for Boston College is their early season win over Texas A&M at the Old Spice Classic. A win over a team ranked in the Top 25 most of this season—and on a neutral court—should help further prove Steve Donohue’s team can compete in and win a similar matchup in the NCAA tournament.
Including the wins over Virginia Tech and Texas A&M, the Eagles have four wins away from home against the RPI (Rating Percentage Index) top 100. That’s more than a lot of bubble teams can claim, and could be an important reason they ultimately get into the NCAA tournament.
Why Boston College is Left Out
While BC’s overall strength of schedule (15) is very high, their win over Texas A&M is their only win over a team inside the RPI top 50. The next best win outside the ACC is over California, who is NIT-bound. Without a depth of quality non-conference wins, the Eagles may have hurt themselves a bit with losses to Rhode Island and Yale—two sub-75 teams in the RPI.
Two other losses that may ultimately cost BC a tournament bid are the ones to Miami. The Hurricanes don’t have a terrible RPI (69) or ACC record (6-9), and have played most ACC teams very close this year. However, losing both games to them will partially offset the good done with sweeps over Virginia Tech and Maryland.
Obviously, the ACC does not have the depth of legitimate NCAA tournament teams as usual. As of now, the league has two for certain—Duke and North Carolina—and an almost-certain third in Florida State. The lack of additional teams who have punched their dance tickets will hurt Boston College.
The Eagles have lost all four of their games against the ACC's top three teams: Duke, UNC and FSU. Unless Virginia Tech does sneak into the field of 68, BC will not have any conference wins over teams heading to the NCAA tournament. It’s not entirely their fault—the ACC hasn’t provided as many opportunities for true quality wins—but that fact could be tough to look past.
Why Colorado State Gets In
The Mountain West has remained No. 4 in conference RPI. The MWC is ranked ahead of the ACC, as well as the SEC—a league likely to receive at least five NCAA bids.
Three teams from the MWC—BYU, San Diego State, and UNLV—are already guaranteed to play in the tournament, while Colorado State is currently fourth in the MWC at 9-6 with one game remaining.
Normally, the fourth-placed team in the fourth-best conference in the nation is more than good enough to make the NCAA tournament. That guideline should not change just because the conference is the Mountain West and not the Big Ten or SEC.
In non-conference play, Colorado State lost to Kansas and Colorado from the Big 12, but helped themselves by winning the Cancun Classic in December. The Rams beat Mississippi and Southern Miss—a top 50 RPI team—to win the title. Nothing overwhelming, but Colorado State proved they could succeed in a tournament on a neutral floor, which is important.
Colorado State’s key win this season came over one of the top three in the league against UNLV on the road. Even more impressive was that the Rams won by 15.
Despite coming up 0-for-3 thus far against top-10 rivals BYU and SDSU, Colorado State has only lost those games by an average of six points. That should help put the Rams in perspective in comparison to two teams who expect to receive No. 2 or No. 3 seeds in the tournament.
Why Colorado State is Left Out
Colorado State has just five wins against the RPI top 100; three of them against teams from the MWC. Not an overly impressive number, considering the conference has six of their nine teams in the top 100.
Which team shoulde make the NCAA tournament?
Outside of the Cancun championship, there is very little else for Colorado State to display on their non-conference profile. The Rams’ next best wins are against Northern Colorado and San Francisco. The loss to state rival Colorado—a bubble team themselves—was a missed opportunity on a schedule that did not have an excessive number of them.
In MWC play, Colorado State has had more opportunities to prove they belong in the NCAAs but have come up short on most of them. In addition to the losses to BYU and San Diego State, CSU missed out on a chance to sweep UNLV when they lost in Fort Collins a couple weeks ago. A win there could have kept the Rams in third place, and would have really raised the Rams’ at-large likelihood.
A 17-point loss at Air Force last week may not do much to help CSU’s chances either. Neither will an 11-point loss to Sam Houston State back in December.
Who Gets In?
If this was just about any year prior to 2011—times before three more teams and less overall quality teams—neither of these teams would have enough to make the NCAA tournament. Luckily for both, times have changed just a bit, and each still has a shot.
Each team has just one win over a certain NCAA tourney-bound opponent, while coming up short on their opportunities against the top teams in their conference.
Boston College has a little better non-conference profile—thanks to the win over Texas A&M. The Eagles also picked up two key road wins late in the season—including the win at Virginia Tech—to help validate their ability to win on the road.
Colorado State, meanwhile has missed several opportunities to earn their spot in the tournament, but have continued to struggle when it matters most.
Boston College: IN
Colorado State: OUT
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