With a little over 12 hours until the NCAA field is announced, let’s take a look at what to expect on Selection Monday.
It would be logical to say that LSU is the favorite to receive the top overall national seed. The Tigers have a top 10 RPI and won both the regular season and conference tournament championships in the toughest conference in the nation. The thirty wins they have against the RPI top 100 are second only to Cal State Fullerton’s thirty one.
After that, the picture gets a little more clouded. Texas won the Big 12 regular season championship and locked up the Big 12 Tournament championship today with a win over Missouri. The Longhorns have nineteen wins against the RPI top 50 and did not lose a game to a team outside the RPI top 100 all season. Arizona State won the Pac-10 title, but they only have eight wins against the RPI top 50. Cal State Fullerton has thirty one wins against the RPI top 100, but they are going to finish at least five games back of UC Irvine in the final Big West standings. North Carolina played a strong schedule, have sixteen wins against the RPI top 50, and twenty five wins against the RPI top 100, but they finished in second place in the ACC and ended the season with a 5-5 record. UC Irvine won the Big West title going away and have twenty three wins against the RPI top 100, but they only have five wins against the RPI top 50 and a relatively weak RPI for a prospective national seed. Florida State won the ACC regular season championship and lost in the ACC Tournament title game to Virginia today, but twenty of their forty two wins came against teams outside the RPI top 100, with ten being outside the RPI top 200.
If each of those teams are seeded in the two through seven range, that leaves one national seed up for grabs. There are probably two, maybe three teams, that could possibly receive the nod. Rice, winners of the Conference USA Tournament, have an RPI of around ten and twenty two wins against the RPI top 100. Ole Miss, the SEC regular season co-champs, have an impressive nineteen wins against the RPI top 50 and a 14-5 road record, but their low RPI and bad showing in the SEC Tournament aren’t helping their cause. The third possibility for the last national seed is Florida. The Gators finished a game back of the SEC regular season championship and lost two of three at home to Ole Miss, but they have a great RPI and have a nation’s best twenty four wins against the RPI top 50.
The NCAA released the list of the regional hosts today. There were no real surprises, but I would be mildly surprised if all the hosts were one seed hosts. Virginia won the ACC Tournament championship today over Florida State, have a top ten RPI, and finished with a very solid 16-11-1 record in ACC regular season play. It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Cavaliers pop up as a traveling 1 seed in the East Carolina Regional. East Carolina won the Conference USA regular season championship, but they were not impressive in the conference tournament and have a borderline RPI for a one seed.
American East – Auto-bid: Binghamton
Atlantic 10 – Auto-bid: Xavier; Probable: Rhode Island
ACC – Auto-bid: Virginia; Locks: North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL); Probable: Boston College; Possible: Duke
Atlantic Sun – Auto-bid: Jacksonville
Big 10 – Auto-bid: Indiana; Locks: Minnesota, Ohio State; Possible: Illinois
Big 12 – Auto-bid: Texas; Locks: Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Texas A&M; Probable: Kansas; Possible: Baylor, Oklahoma State
Big East – Auto-bid: Louisville; Possible: Notre Dame
Big South – Auto-bid: Coastal Carolina
Big West – Auto-bid: UC Irvine; Locks: Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly; Possible: UC Riverside
Colonial – Auto-bid: Georgia State; Probable: George Mason
Conference USA – Auto-bid: Rice; Locks: East Carolina; Possible: Southern Miss, Tulane
Horizon – Auto-bid: Wright State
Independents – Probable: Dallas Baptist
Ivy – Auto-bid: Dartmouth
MAAC – Auto-bid: Marist
MAC – Auto-bid: Kent State
MEAC – Auto-bid: Bethune-Cookman
Missouri Valley – Auto-bid: Wichita State; Possible: Missouri State
Mountain West – Auto-bid: Utah; Locks: TCU, San Diego State; Possible: BYU
Northeast – Aut0-bid: Monmouth
Ohio Valley – Auto-bid: Tennessee Tech; Possible: Eastern Illinois
Pac-10 – Auto-bid: Arizona State; Locks: Oregon State; Probable: Washington State
Patriot – Auto-bid: Army
SEC – Auto-bid: LSU; Locks: Ole Miss, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Vanderbilt; Possible: Auburn
Southern – Auto-bid: Georgia Southern; Locks: Elon; Possible: Western Carolina
Southland – Auto-bid: Sam Houston State; Locks: Texas State; Possible: Southeastern Louisiana
SWAC – Auto-bid: Southern
Sun Belt – Auto-bid: Middle Tennessee State; Probable: Western Kentucky
Summit – Auto-bid: Oral Roberts
WCC – Auto-bid: Gonzaga; Possible: Loyola Marymount, San Diego
WAC – Auto-bid: Fresno State; Possible: San Jose State, Hawaii
With 30 auto-bids and 26 “locks”, there are eight open spots in the field of 64. If you take the seven “probables” and add then to the field, that leaves only one slot open.
A few teams to look out for in the last at-large spot are Baylor, Oklahoma State, Southern Miss, and Western Carolina. Baylor needed an impressive showing in the Big 12 Tournament to even have a shot at making the field after a collapse to end the season, and the Bears answered the bell. They posted a 2-1 mark in pool play, beating Texas and Kansas, to give themselves twenty RPI top 100 wins on the year. Oklahoma State has a very impressive resume if you ignore their Big 12 record. The Cowboys have a top thirty RPI and twenty one top 100 wins, but they posted only a 9-16 record in the Big 12 and missed the conference tournament. Southern Miss took advantage of the Conference USA Tournament being on home turf, reaching the finals before losing a close game to Rice. The Golden Eagles have an RPI in the mid-fifties, have a solid 12-6 road record, and have twelve wins against the RPI top 100. Western Carolina posted a nice 19-10 record in Southern Conference play which helped them earn a RPI in the low fifties, but they are a very unimpressive 2-9 against the RPI top 50.