Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Davidson mentioned in SN article about RPI

Take care of your RPI early
By: Mike DeCourcy

November and December sometimes are treated like the leftover meatloaf of college basketball. It's hard to get the media interested while football is raging. It's even harder to get fringe fans excited.

People notice Gardner-Webb beating Kentucky and maybe even Eric Gordon scoring 33 points in his debut for Indiana, but why does it seem so few pay attention when North Carolina opens its season with a compelling game against Stephen Curry and Davidson? That is not an exhibition; it is not Findlay vs. Ohio State. Carolina-Davidson matters.

Maybe this loud declaration will get everyone involved: Aside from March, November and December are the most important months in college basketball. What occurs in these two months will determine roughly how many teams each conference places in the NCAA Tournament.

"For a lot of teams, this is the time of year that can make or break their tournament hopes," says Jerry Palm, who runs the CollegeRPI.com site.

These are the months that establish the worth of victories in each league. Big East coaches still haven't come to understand how poor preconference play last season devalued the currency of a win in their league. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who has acted the part of most aggrieved coach since his Orange missed the 2007 tournament, needs to understand every Big East team was climbing uphill by the time conference play commenced.

That also was true in the Big 12. Those leagues brought it on themselves.

Their 28 members received only 10 NCAA bids because they didn't line up enough challenging nonleague games and didn't win enough of the few they scheduled. On January 1 of last season, Big East teams had won 75.6 percent of their games but owned an average Ratings Percentage Index standing of 94. Only two of the league's teams ranked in the RPI top 15, and six were outside the top 100. Things were nearly as bad in the Big 12.

Meanwhile, the leagues that got the most bids, the ACC and Pac-10, were busy tearing it up. The ACC's average RPI was 68 and the Pac-10's was 75. Combined, they had only four teams outside the top 100.

"While teams get bids and not leagues," Palm says, "it's easier for a team from a better league to get a bid than a team from a lesser one with a similar conference performance."

Kentucky might not be punished forever for losing to Gardner-Webb. But early-season results aren't going away, either. Kentucky and the rest of the SEC will continue to deal with the consequences.

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