The Florida Gators and Vanderbilt Commodores may have gotten some bad news last night in the results from a couple of mid-major tournaments. Two teams' bubbles burst last night, but it's impossible to say right now whose they were.
First up, Iona knocked off Monmouth and its famous celebrating bench 79-76 to claim the MAAC title. Monmouth had an RPI of 49 as of yesterday, and the Hawks' claim to fame was a pair of big wins back in November over Notre Dame and USC, respectively. They also have a win over UCLA if all you care about is Power 5 affiliation. Monmouth does have three RPI 150+ losses—actually, they're all 200+ if you must know—so the team may not get an at-large bid. Still, there is now uncertainty around whether the MAAC will get two teams in, whereas there wouldn't have been if Monmouth had won.
Next, Valparaiso lost in the Horizon League semifinals to Wisconsin-Green Bay 99-92. Valpo was a bit ahead of Monmouth at 41 in the RPI yesterday, but UWGB was lower than Iona at 138. The Crusaders only have one headlining win, as they won back in November over RPI No. 29 Oregon State. They have three RPI 150+ losses, but unlike Monmouth's worst losses, they're barely past the 150 barrier.
So if you're on the Selection Committee, what do you value?
|Record vs. D-1||24-5||19-12||27-6||23-8||18-13|
|vs. RPI Top 50||1-1||2-8||2-2||1-3||2-9|
|vs. RPI Top 100||4-2||7-10||4-3||4-7||7-12|
|vs. RPI Top 150||9-2||10-12||10-3||10-8||11-13|
Vanderbilt and Florida have much stronger strength of schedule ratings because they play in a Power 5 conference and are better able to line up and play big non-conference games. At the same time, they each have no more wins against the RPI top 50 than Monmouth does. They had more chances to win big games, but they didn't actually win that many of those games.
Valparaiso and Monmouth easily have the best records against the RPI top 100, but they also have the most 150+ losses. Wichita State is at least above .500 against the top 150, while VU and UF are below .500 there. The Crusaders and Shockers have the best scoring margins, while the the Hawks' margin isn't so great despite playing the worst rated schedule. The computer numbers just LOVE Wichita and are high on Vandy, while they're not sold on Monmouth and are iffy on Florida.
There are a lot of teams on the bubble right now with resumes like these: little jumps out as exceptional to boost a team up, but there is little to definitively knock one team out instead of another. Years like this make the committee's job at once harder and more forgivable. The committee will have to leave some teams out despite them having records that are virtually indistinguishable from a few teams in the bracket. Those teams on the outside looking in will be so flawed, however, that they will have only themselves to blame.
Monmouth and Valparaiso's losses knocked two teams off of the bubble on Monday night. We won't know whether they were themselves or other at-large hopefuls until Sunday.
Let's look at the Bubble Big Board now:
|Conference||Acceptable Champions||Bubble Teams|
|A10||Dayton, St. Joe's||VCU, St. Bonaventure, G. Washington|
|AAC||UConn, Cincy, Tulsa, Temple||UConn, Cincy, Tulsa, Temple|
|ACC||UVA, Miami, UNC, Duke, ND, Pitt||Syracuse, Florida State|
|Big 12||Baylor, KU, ISU, OU, Texas, TTU, WVU||None|
|Big East||Villanova, Xavier, Seton Hall||Butler, Providence|
|Big Ten||MSU, UMD, Indiana, Purdue, Iowa, UW||Michigan, Ohio State|
|Mountain West||San Diego State||San Diego State|
|Pac-12||Oregon, Utah, Cal, Arizona, Colorado||USC, Oregon State|
|Sun Belt||Arkansas-Little Rock||Arkansas-Little Rock|
|WCC||St. Mary's||St. Mary's, Gonzaga|
The West Coast Conference staved off the creeping disorder last night with St. Mary's cruising past Pepperdine and Gonzaga holding off BYU in the league tournament semifinals. Those two play tonight for the auto-bid. If you're a fan of Vandy or Florida, the Bracket Matrix suggests you root for the Gaels.